Sossusvlei & Namib Desert

To experience the high dunes of Sossusvlei at sunrise is one of the most mesmerising sights in Namibia, a must on anyone’s list…


The Namib Naukluft National Park covers nearly five million hectares of the Namib desert. This park stretches from Luderitz northwards along the coast to Swakopmund: a glorious mix of towering dunes, vast gravel plains, curiously shaped canyon. All with a mountain backdrop. Marvel at the gemsbok, with its rapier-sharp horns, and other animals that manage to survive in these dry conditions.

Despite the worldwide fame of Sossusvlei, there are in fact three distinct areas which you might like to visit – the Sossusvlei dunes; the Namib Rand Nature Reserve further south and the Naukluft Mountains…

Sossusvlei often rivals a visit to Etosha as the highlight of any Namibia holiday. Surrounded by towering, wave-crested dunes of red-orange sand, Sossusvlei is especially breathtaking in the early morning. Then the dunes are transformed into explosions of colour by the first rays of the sun. There's a good choice of Sossuvlei Lodges, with a key consideration being distance from the park gates.

You rise with the sun to see one of the most awesome sights in Namibia – the towering red dunes of Sossusvlei. These are some of the largest dunes in the world, rising more than 1000 feet above the Namib desert. This is paradise for the photographer, as the shadows create a magnificent contrast of colours. The energetic can climb one of the dunes for a panorama of the endless dune landscape, or explore Sesriem Canyon.

Quad biking in the Namib Desert

Namib Rand Nature Reserve

South of the Sossusvlei lodges lies the Namib Rand Nature Reserve. This is an absolutely stunning area of the Namib Desert which is the largest private nature reserve in Southern Africa. There are several excellent Namib lodges here as well. Ideally you would spend time at both.


Why you may love it

  • Experience the heart of the Namib Desert with a hot air balloon safari. You can undertake this experience from Sesriem (near Sossusvlei). Or in the Namib Rand to the south, if you pre-book. Hot air ballooning is not possible from mid January to mid February
  • Namib Rand Nature Reserve is one of the world's naturally dark places and offers excellent star gazing opportunities. Many camps offer amazing stargazing facilities
  • Take a stroll across to Dead Vlei, enjoying the fantastic photographic opportunities afforded by the dead trees silhouetted against the red dunes
  • The sand dunes in the Namib are dynamic and change shape with the wind. The dunes around the Sossusvlei area are known as “star dunes” due to the wind shaping them from all directions
  • The Namib Desert is also home to the sprawling Welwitschia and a multitude of toktokkie beetles and other creatures found nowhere else in the world

Explore the Sossusvlei & Namib Desert map

When to visit Sossusvlei & Namib Desert

Mid Dec to March

Hot with occasional thunder rain

It doesn’t rain much in the Namib Desert but was little does come, comes in the summer months. Broadly speaking, it is very hot with clear mornings. However January to March afternoons may see some downpours. But not every day. The summer is not the ideal time to visit as the day-time temperatures are uncomfortably hot and it remains so into the nights. But the summer skies are amazing and – if you can cope with high temperatures – it’s a very quiet time to visit.
MAX TEMP 32 ℃ / 90 ℉
MIN TEMP 17 ℃ / 63 ℉

April to June

Shoulder Season

It’s a wonderful time to visit as there are fewer visitors than later on in July and August. We recommend May to June in particular. Day-time temperatures are very pleasant (23-24C on average). However in the desert, the night-time temperatures are very cold getting down to a chilly 5-6C by the end of June.
MAX TEMP 26 ℃ / 79 ℉
MIN TEMP 9 ℃ / 44 ℉

July to mid Oct

Peak Season

Traditionally this is a popular time to visit as the dry season continues. Note that night-time and early morning temperatures can remain very chilly, down to 4C in July! But temperatures start heating up In September. We particularly recommend September & October as it’s slightly less busy, the nights are warmer and the days not yet too hot.
MAX TEMP 24 ℃ / 75 ℉
MIN TEMP 6 ℃ / 43 ℉

Mid Oct to Dec

Heating Up Fast

Late October & November is a transitional month. The day time temperatures continue to rise and this is broken by the start of some summer afternoon thunder rains, which cools it down a little.
MAX TEMP 31 ℃ / 88 ℉
MIN TEMP 14 ℃ / 57 ℉

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My family holiday to Namibia

My 12 day trip to Namibia in January was an unbelievable experience for all my family. We drove all the way through the country from the south (Fish River Canyon) to the north (Etosha National Park) with my two boys in our double cab 4x4. This is the ideal vehicle for travelling with children – especially because of the distances.

The following are some highlights.

We visited the Fish River Canyon at 9:00am in the morning and were the only people at the second largest canyon in the world - unbelievable!! Here we stayed at Canon Lodge with rooms built into the boulders.

The towering dunes of Sossusvlei and climbing “Big Daddy” were also an experience that we will never forget. The children charge ahead whilst the adults puffed along behind! Sossusvlei is a paradise for the keen photographer as I took hundreds of photos of the towering dunes. Our stay at the Wilderness Safaris properties (Kulala Desert Lodge & Little Kulala) was exceptional and to be recommended.

Swakopmund was the next highlight and definitely the children’s favourite town as we all did the quad biking in the dunes, tried our hand at sandboarding and even went fishing at Henties Bay (about one hour north of Swakopmund). We stayed at the Hansa Hotel which is centrally located and near all the sites to visit.

Next we headed to Etosha National Park and had a fantastic stay at Ongava Lodge, situated just outside the southern boundary of Etosha, and at Onguma Bush Lodge on the eastern side. They have an active floodlit waterhole where we saw lion, giraffe, zebra, springbok and various other antelope. Etosha National Park itself was the best overall game experience I have ever had in a national park as there was such a variety of wildlife at every waterhole – just as those classic Etosha pictures would suggest!

We drove from Etosha to Windhoek for the last days of our trip and stayed at The Windhoek Country Club Resort which was also very popular with the kids. This is the most resort-like place on our stay as they have an outdoor water play area, an 18 hole golf course (which allows children to play) and lots of space to run around.

Cedarberg : Sonja Brand
Did you know
  • NameRoughly means "dead-end marsh"
  • Dune coloursThe oldest dunes are those of a more intense reddish color 

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Milandi Joubert

Africa Travel Specialist

Hi I’m Milandi, I’m here to help you plan your ideal holiday experience

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