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Namib-Naukluft National Park - Sossusvlei

The Namib-Naukluft National Park in Namibia covers a large part of the Namib Desert and the Naukluft Mountains and with its area of nearly 50 000 square kilometres, it is the largest game reserve in Africa.

You will find in this National Park the distinctive red-coloured sand dunes which are the highest dunes in the world with heights up to 300 meters above the desert surface. The height is reached by the breeze from the Atlantic Ocean. This wind also ensures the water supply in the region spread across the desert through the morning fog. The amount of water through the fog, reaches the on an annual basis over the amount of rain. During the months of February to April, there is approximately 106 mm of rainfall. Despite these severe droughts there are animals that can survive in this area, such as snakes, gemsbok, jackals, meerkats, geckos and various bugs.

The dunes owe their particular colour to the amount of iron that they contain: the older the dune, the more the iron is oxidized, and the more intense is the colour of the sand. Closer to the coast, the dunes get lower and along the coast you will find lagoons and mudflats where many birds stay.

The most famous area in the park is the Sossusvlei in the heart of the Namib which is a major tourist attraction in Namibia where special pictures can be taken here. Nice pictures because of the red sand dunes surrounded by a valley with a base of clay and salt water is supplied when the Tsauchab River is flooded. This happens very rarely, but as the soil can retain water well, there may grow some acacia trees. It is very special to see green trees grow in the desert. Perhaps even more special is the dead-vlei where dead acacia trees stand out against the brilliant white salt soil and red sand dunes. When the course of the Tsauchab changed during floods, this place was not equipped with water and thus the trees are dead. This place has been used in several film shoots.

The Naukluft Mountains located on the east side of the National Park are the habitat of, among other mountain zebras and leopards and hikers. From March to mid-October, you can take longer trips where you camp in the area. Due to the rising temperatures these trips are not organized in the summer months. For something less active there are also day trips such as the 10-kilometer Olive Trail and the 17-kilometer Waterkloof Trail. You can stay at its starting point the Naukluft Campsite south-east of Solitaire in the mountains. Enjoy beautiful sunrises and sunsets and relax in the crystal clear mountain pools.

The biggest dune in the area is probably Dune 45, named so because it is 45 kilometres from Sesriem on the road to Sossusvlei. This dune is about 80 meters high, is located near the road and is not suitable to climb for example, but nice to admire the sunset.

In order to visit Sossusvlei, dead-vlei and the 'Hidden-vlei" (least visited of the three), you should use the entrance to the National Park near Sesriem. From there it is about 60 kilometres to the "4x2 parking" at Sossusvlei. If you do not have a 4x4 vehicle you will have to walk the last kilometre from the car park or use the transfer service. Please note that the gates only open at sunrise and you should always take along plenty of water because of the high temperatures.

Your holiday begins at South Africa Specialist.