We took a 3 day weekend trip to Sossusvlei in the South West of Namibia this past weekend. I had never been to the area as it is very expensive for accommodation. I always viewed it as a bit of a tourist trap but the opportunity presented to us was too hard to ignore. A friend of ours had booked a trip there during the Christmas season and was unable to make the trip, so the lodge was kind enough to allow her to differ the trip to a later date. She has since left Namibia and offered the trip to our dear friend Marybeth who asked Kim and I and my colleague Dave to join her. With free accommodation we were certainly ready (and excited) to make the trip.

And so we set off early Friday morning for the magical desert spot. On the way we had one small mishap as we got stuck in a riverbed. Luckily we managed to dig ourselves out and keep moving. I have commented on how much the landscape changes as you travel west into the desert from Windhoek. It really is amazing to see the desert creep up on the horizon.

The very riverbed where we got stuck. Partly due to the fact that we stopped half way through to take this picture. We lost momentum which is an important thing to keep when you are driving through the soft ground and rock.

First impressions on the Sossusvlei Desert Camp. We were all instantly captivated by the beauty of the area. The camp had wide expanses of veld and valley all around us. The main area of the camp has this amazing little swimming pool where we spent an afternoon or two cooling off after hiking and exploring. You can see the great field in the background and little mountain that Dave and I also climbed.

Another lodge in the area which had a very interesting castle theme.

All around the area were the Armored Crickets. I encountered these first on my inaugural trip to Botswana. I was really captivated by their size and image. Kim says the kids call them “Abraham ‘a Booby”. Or so goes their informal name. I found out they are actually called Armored Crickets. Either way they are a real sight.

Kim in the background obviously grossed out.

More shots from the Desert Camp. As soon as I saw the small mountain in the background I pledged to climb it.

The Sossusvlei Desert Camp has these little half tent,half building dwellings. It was really comfortable and very rustic. The roof is made of canvas and the base of concrete. The first night we slept in a civilized bed with the windows open and the canvas roof flapping in the breeze. It was a real treat.

Lizard friend greeting us at the door.

First day we visited the Sesriem Canyon which is just outside of the Sossusvlei park. We hiked down to the bottom and found this quaint little spot. A picture for mom.

The canyon was impressive and actually leads to Sossusvlei. It was fairly dry in most spots except this one. I can imagine it really flowing during the rainy season.

View from above.

A weathered piece of driftwood in the canyon.

As the canyon heads towards Sossusvlei it opens up into a large valley.

Back from the canyon and a few beers Dave and I set out to climb the small mountain near our camp. On route to the base we found these odd little crop circles in the field. There were many of them. Apparently some sort of weed has grown here which gives off a scent with which the standard plant of the area can not coexist. Therefor these little circle are created around the intrusive plant. Or alien pods landed here and created the crop circles.

The mountain was a slight challenge but a lot of fun. Even 1/4 of the way up provided for great views. You can see our little camp set out before us in the valley.

Dessert fauna growing or drying near the summit of the mountain.

Finally at the top we had incredible views all around the area.

Loved this great bolder balancing precariously at the top of the mountain.

Views other side.

The way down can be as difficult as the the way up. Massive boulders with great expanses below can be very intimidating.

Back at the base of the mountain we found even more great photo opportunities. Here a large birds nest is caught in the tree.

Obligatory shadow shot in the African veld with the beautiful rising moon.

The theme for the weekend was a 5 am start time. The best time to be inside the Sossusvlei is at dusk or dawn, due to the shadows seen on the dunes as well as the temperatures in the desert. This morning we caught a few Springbok grazing in the valley’s of the beautiful dunes.

They were right about the shadows. These are immense piles of sand.

Sossusvlei is like a gigantic rives bed surrounded by dunes. I believe it only receives water once a year. We made our visit just after the rainy season so some evidence of life can still be seen in the grass growing freely, although the trees are long gone.

We made tracks from the end of the two wheeled drive road. Many people chose to take the four wheel drive “taxis” to the inner dune but we were happy to just take the 5km walk into the area. In doing so we were able to explore a few of the lesser seen dune areas. Over the top of one dune we found this little moon landscape.

Plus we had time to organize nifty pictures such as these.

Beautiful red sand dunes. Distinctly different than the dunes in Swakopmund.

Found some cracked earth in the inner area.

On our walk we even came across an Oryx, thanks to “Eagle Eye Dave”. We approached with extreme caution. Dave told us that a tourist had recently been impaled by the Oryx’s great horns as it charged at him after he got to close. I opted for the zoom lens to capture this shot.

After taking in the park all morning and a quick dip in the pool at the Desert Camp we took a 3 hour drive around the area. We visited a private national park just south of the Sossusvlei area, I still don’t understand what a private national park is, but it was picturesque.

Encountered this burnt out wreck along the road on the way back.

Desert sunsets.

Both nights we opted to self cater at the Desert Camp. They arrange to deliver the uncooked food right to your tent where you can easily set up a little bbq as you look out over the valley. It really was the way to go. I am not unhappy to have missed the $170 buffet dinner at the lodge. As you can see in the background the tents are well equipped with a little kitchen built outside. Sink, stovetop, fridge and storage built right into the bbq area. Kim, Marybeth and Dave toast to our greatly missed host, Angela.

On the way back going through the Gamsberg pass. A really spectacular view.

The roads we have crossed almost look imaginary.

CC BY 4.0 Sossusvlei by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.