"Dead Vlei: The Dunes of Tintin" Top 5 Page for this destination Desert and dunes Tip by GillianMcLaughlin

Desert and dunes, Namibia: 72 reviews and 93 photos

  Dead Vlei Camelthorn
by GillianMcLaughlin

As a child, when you thought of the desert, I'm sure you pictured mountains of bright red sand. Namibia has the desert of your dreams. The dunes are high, there is no scrub, and you will not be disappointed with the colour of the sand.

Travellers head to the area of Sessreim in the hope of getting up before sunrise, to enter the Namib Naukluft Park, and capturing a wonderful sunrise over the red dunes of the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world. Sessreim is one of four entrances to the Park, and the most popular starting point for visitors wishing to see the dunes. It is about 65 km from Sossusvlei, the holy grail of dune visitors. The last 5 km can only be travelled in a 4x4 vehicle. Once you reach the last part of the paved road there is a car park, and you can continue in special vehicles for the last part of the journey.

We opted to avoid the crowds (well the other 3 people who joined us in the 4x4 vehicle) and headed off to Dead Vlei rather than to Sossusvlei. Nothing could have prepared us for the view that greeted us as we emerged from the path into the Vlei. The hard white pan in the midst of the desert tells the story of centuries of infrequent flooding from a river whose route has long since changed. The ground is baked hard and reflects the sun?s heat very effectively.

It is huge. I have yet to see the photo that gives the true impression of the size. The only break in the white of the ground, the red of the sand and the blue of the sky is a scattering of dead camelthorn trees. They are extremely photogenic, and indeed, this place is a photographer?s dream.

At the far end from the path you follow from the car park, is one huge dune, Big Daddy, which we climbed (read about that in the sports tips!).

Address: Sessreim entrance of the Namib Naukluft Park
Directions: Just over 200 km south of Windhoek. 3-4 hour car journey depending on the route selected. Park is accessible from 1 hour before dawn. Dead Vlei is some 65 km into the park.
Website: http://www.namibweb.com/naukluft.htm

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 29, 2004
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