When the first light of the day hits the tall dune, the sands glitter to the golden hour sunlight radiating a dramatic landscape view to everyone from the wanderlust souls to nature lover photographers. Often seen on the postcards of Namibia, Dune 45 is one of the iconic dunes standing at the height of 170m in the Sossusvlei region of Namib Desert in Namibia.
Literally meaning ‘dead-end marsh’, Sossusvlei is referred to the accumulation of large dunes that prevented the flow of Tsauchab River to flow any further in to the Atlantic Ocean.
Located in the large the Namib-Naukluft National Park that stretches over 50,000 square km, Sossusvlei is one of most beautiful and a unique landscape in the world. The area is characterised by the large salt pan contrasting the dark camel thorn trees thinly dispersed around the desert on the backdrop of the majestic red dunes of Namibia. Rare exceptional rain that fills the salt pans reflects the majestic dunes is a treat to watch.
The splendid ever changing red dunes are easily accessible by paved roads by a 2 wheel drive although a 4 wheel drive is highly recommended to pass on the sands that often cover the roads.
Thinly dotted lines often seen in the landscape pictures of Sossusvlei are the camel thorn tress that continues to thrive in the Desert despite the lack of rainfall. These trees have formidable root system which stretches deep in to the Earth tapping the underground water bodies. Nara melons, a round yellow fruit bearing plant with yet another excellent deep running root system are also found the in the region. Another plant Welwitschia also called Tree Tumbo is found only at the Namib Desert in Namibia and Angola.
The yearlong dry desert landscape led to evolution of few animals that are adopted to the Desert landscape and vegetation. The top layer of sand is home to the many species like beetles, spiders and reptiles, such as geckos and survives on water droplets found on the rocks, plants from the early morning fog. Large species like ostrich, springbok and gemsbok are found in region that has adopted to the dry condition and minimal vegetation found in the desert. Predators like spotted hyena are also found and when the night comes, the cool surface invites other animals like bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, porcupine, Cape fox and aardwolf.
The iconic Dune 45, named after the fact that it is located at the 45th kilometre on the road that connects Sesriem and Sossusvlei is an iconic and one of the most photographed dune in the world. Another dune, named Big Daddy standing at the height of nearly 325m is the highest dune in the region is one of the major attraction along with Elim dune featuring unique vegetation around it. Close to the Sossusvlei lies Sesriem Canyon, formed by the Tsauchab River that carved the canyon by flowing in the region for thousands of years and is the only place where water can be found in dry season. Another attraction that lacks even a tiny bit of moisture leading to dry dead tree that doesn’t decompose making up a living fossil contrasting the beautiful dunes is found at Deadvlei.
Best time to visit
Due the scant rainfall, the region is dry throughout the year with temperature going up to 40°C /104°F on a very hot day and dipping down sharply during the cold winter nights. Although one can visit the dunes throughout the year, May to October months are recommended as the winter temperature makes a good day to climb the dunes and spend the beautiful evening watching sunset from top of the dunes.
The dark trees, vast white salt pans, huge red dunes and a blue sky combines together to form a spectacular view and makes Sossusvlei a must visit place in Namibia when you book your tickets.