Namibia is a country of almost superlatives. It is believed that the sossusvlei dunes were formed around five million years ago. The second least densely populated country in the world is also one of the newest and is home to some of the largest dunes the darkest skies the oldest cultures And the biggest conservation areas in Africa. Sossusvlei is surely Namibia:s most iconic landscape. The rust-red dunes, bleached white pans and deep blue sky are instantly recognizable, and symbolize the country’s vast, dry, uninhabited expanses.
Sossusvlei is possibly Namibia’s most spectacular and best-known attraction. Characterised by the large red dunes that surround it, Sossusvlei is a large, white, salt and clay pan and is a great destination all year round. The dunes in this area are some of the highest in the world, reaching almost 400 meters, and provide photographic enthusiasts with wonderful images in the beautiful morning and evening light.
Coloured by iron oxide sand was washed from the Orange River in the Kalahari towards the sea. The Benguela Current drove the sand north, all the way to the town of Luderitz. Blowing inland northwest, winds caused a distribution of the sand and the formation of the dunes. The Namib dunes consist of colored quartz sand and shimmer in different colors, the more intense the shade of red the older the dune is.
The blowing winds constantly change the shape of the namib dunes. The upper part of the dune is called slipface. On the windward side of the dune, the wind is depositing the sand. On the leeward side of the dune the sand slides down. This side is therefore the steeper one. The dunes lying around the Sossusvlei are called parabolic dunes or star dunes because they extend downwards from the pinnacle of the dunes in different directions. This creates dunes up to 50 kilometers wide.
According to research, the star dunes migrate up to 10 meters per year. The Namib dunes are among the most stable representatives of their kind rising from the 100 meter high sand dunes in Tsondab said to have been created from 20-40 million years ago and then fossilized. All of the attractions surrounding Sossusvlei are easily accessible as all but the last 5 kilometers of the 65 kilometer drive to the vlei is tarred. Shuttles provide access to the last 5 kilometers, should you not have a 4×4 vehicle.