Located in the south of the country, it is a must visit for all of us who travel to Namibia. The Namib-Naukluft National Park with an area of 50,000 km2 (like all of Estonia or all of Aragon) is the most accessible area to visit in the south of the Namib Desert, considered the oldest desert in the world. The village of Sesriem, located about 5 hours from Windhoek by 4×4 (driving much of the way on lonely and gravel roads -From Windhoek to Rehoboth on the B1, in Rehoboth turn left onto the C24 and at the end of this road, we will follow the C19 until we reach Sesriem-), is the gateway to the desert.
The clayey sand that characterizes the Namib comes from the Kalahari Desert. During all these centuries, the semi-arid climate of the area and wind processes have transported the sand from the interior to the Atlantic coast of Namibia covering it with clayey sand, from the border of the Orange River (orange for the color of the land ) to the border with Angola.
In Sesriem we find diferent kind of accommodation (from exclusive lodges to campsites) and all kinds of services. There is where you have to pay for the entrance to the National Park (80 NAD per person and day + 10 NAD per vehicle). If you are traveling during high season, it is highly recommended to book accommodation in advance because being one of the must-see places in Namibia, many tourists visit it.
We slept at the Sesriem Campsite run by the state tourism company Namibia Wildlife Resort (NWR) which manages accommodation in protected areas of the country. The price per person per night was NAD 490. It is a simple camping area with shower and electricity included. The most important thing about this campsite is its location, as it is located in the National Park and this allows us to leave an hour before the doors officially open and, therefore, to be one of the first to visit the Desert of Namib and watch the sunrise from Dune 45.
It is highly recommended, therefore, to book accommodation options that are already within the park so that you can leave an hour earlier than other visitors. The park’s gates officially open at sunrise, and close at sunset.
In the evening, for dinner, we recommend a free buffet at the Sossusvlei Lodge (a luxury resort in Sesriem, but which you can access to go to the restaurant) where you can try the different types of meat and fish that can be found in Namibia, sitting right next to the Namib Desert and under the stars. The cost per person is 360 NAD.
Places to visit:
– DUNE 45: Located about 45 km from Sesriem by a well-maintained paved road that crosses the park, it is the highest accessible dune in the Namib Desert. If you sleep inside the park, as we did, we recommend that you get up very early to be one of the first to arrive, walk to the top of Dune 45 and be able to see the sunrise which must be truly spectacular. We, the day we went, had a gray day but it was also wonderful the view you have of the whole desert from the top of the Dune 45.
– DEATHVLEI: It is an area of lakes (vlei) where there is no more water, but fossilized ancient trees survive and leave a beautiful picture of colors: the white of the salt of the death lake, the wood of the trees planted in the middle of the salt marsh and the clay color of the dunes in the background. One of the iconic landscapes of Namibia. To access to it, you have two options: access it with your 4×4 (with technical knowledge to drive in the desert and lowering the tire pressure so you don’t get stuck) or pay for a Shuttle Bus service that costs 180 NAD per person and which makes the journey to Deathvlei back and forth.
– BIG DADDY: This dune is the one that surrounds the Deathvlei. It can be accessed from above to see a view of the entire Namib Desert and Deathvlei. Near this dune is the BIG MAMMY.
– SOSSUSVLEI: Sossusvlei gets its name from the number of lakes (vlei) that form in the area when it rains. It is a bit further away than Deathvlei and it is advisable to see this area if it has rained recently. If this is not the case, it is much more advisable to watch Deathvlei.
– THE SESRIEM CANYON: This canyon is located outside the park, about 4 km from Sesriem. With a distance of approximately 3 kilometers, it has a history of 2 to 4 million years. We went there in the afternoon and found no one. A beautiful walk 40 meters deep. Above all, be careful not to leave anything visible in the car : when we returned we found a group of monkeys who were lined up playing in our car.