Updated: Mar 26, 2020
Sossusvlei is a large salt and clay pan located in the tall red dunes of Namibia, but is most often used to describe the larger area of the entire park, including other vleis such as Hiddenvlei and Deadvlei, all of which are accessible via the settlement town Sesriem, located in the Namib-Naukluft national park to the south-west of Namibia in a coastal desert.
The word 'Vlei' itself is and Afrikaans word meaning marsh, while 'Sossus' is a Nama word meaning 'dead-end' or 'no-return'. Literally translating to 'dead-end marsh'. This vlei is furthest from the gate along the 4x4 route and is impressive viewed either on the pan itself or from 'Big Momma', the dune that surrounds it.
While the area is most commonly referred to as Sossusvlei, the most visited and famous of the three vleis is the Deadvlei, with its iconic trees twisting from the cracked clay in the long dried marsh nestled at the foot of 'Big Daddy', the imposing 350 meter dune.
Hiddenvlei, as you can imagine, gets its name for being tucked away and a little trickier to find amongst the 4x4 tracks and swelling dunes
The dunes Big Momma and Big Daddy were named such by park rangers for reference along with many other dunes. While some names are for fun, Dune 45 got its name because it is 45km in from the Sesriem Gate.
The area draws a lot of tourism for its beautiful sunrises viewed from the top of Dune 45 with the dunes giving off a lovely red tint from the oxidisation process from the high iron content in the sand.
While the vleis dried up long ago, there is still plenty of vegetation and wildlife in the area, which only still makes up a small portion of the overall Namib-Naukluft National Park.
An Oryx wanders through the Namib-Naukluft Park as morning mist cascades down the shaded side of the dune
Oryx in the morning sun
Tourists making their way up 'Dune 45'
Morning sun on a tree in front of one of the many dunes
Compressed view of the foot of one of the many dunes in the park as the mist wanders past
Sossusvlei from the top of 'Big Momma'
Another view from 'Big Momma'
Sunrise shot on the way to 'Deadvlei'
The iconic trees of Deadvlei in the shadow of 'Big Daddy'
Sand in The Wind
Morning Mist at the Bottom of Dune 45