Namibia is known as “a land of contrasting landscapes”, and the Namib Naukluft Park along with Sossusvlei can definitely attest to this statement.
A 3 day trip around southern section of the park allowed our team members to experience this amazing and diverse area.
Namib-Naukluft National Park
The Namib-Naukluft National Park is one of 12 national parks of that can be found in Namibia. Originally declared a protected area for the conservation of the endemic Hartmann Zebra, the park is one of supreme contrasts and extremes and a testimony to time itself. Situated in the oldest desert on earth it is Namibia’s largest conservation area (5 Million km²) and, together with mountains, the highest dunes on earth and age-old canyons, there is something for every adventurous spirit and nature lover. It is one of Namibia’s most versatile conservation areas and houses a number of natural wonders such as, Sossusvlei, Sesriem Canyon, Sandwich Harbour, Naukluft Mountains and the Kuiseb Canyon.
The area is a testament to the changes of the earth’s surface that have been taking place for over billions of years.
Sossusvlei is one of Namibia’s top attractions possibly second to the Etosha National Park and is home to some of the highest dunes in the world the most famous ones being Dune 45 and the Big Daddy. The team was able to visit both these dunes, unfortunately; due to time constraints we could not conquer these. One of our highlights was being able to walk into Deadvlei the dried white clay pan that contains a number of skeletal-like carbon-dated camel-thorn tree that are between 500 – 600 years old.
Visitors are only allowed to visit Sossusvlei between sunrise and sunset. 60 Km of the road to the vlei has a permanent tar road. Whilst the last 5km of sandy track can only be accessed by 4×4 vehicles. The Namibia Wildlife Resort (NWR) also runs a shuttle service for those that do not want to walk the 4 km stretch.
Closest to the Sossusvlei entrance gate are the Taleni Africa properties Sossusvlei Lodge (Situated at the gate), Desert Camp (5km from the gate), Desert Quiver Camp(5km from the gate ) and Sossus Oasis Campsite. (Situated at the the gate)
The Sossusvlei Lodge with its direct access to the entrance gate to Sossusvlei offers direct 51 luxurious accommodation units which consist of 44 superior rooms, 6 standard rooms, and 1 junior suite. Activities in and around the Sossusvlei area can also be booked at the Lodges, Adventure Centre
Guests can also look forward to the lodges infamous buffet menue that is sure to tantalize every kind of taste bud. For a preview of what you can expect from the lodge’s buffet check out our review here.
Both the Desert Camp and Desert Quiver camp offer self-catering units whilst meals and activities at can also be booked at the Sossusvlei Lodge.
Sesriem Canyon is located approximately 4.5km from the entrance gate of the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The Tsauchab River has shaped the Canyon over millions of years and it is one of the few places in the area that holds water all year round.
The early Afrikaans explorers in the region named the canyon after the fact that they had to use six (“ses”) leather straps (“riem”) tied together to create a rope long enough to lower buckets into the canyon below, in order to fetch water.
There are parking facilities so that visitors can park their vehicles and take a walk through the canyon. The canyon is narrow at places; however it is worth exploring due to the stunning rock formations that will captivate your attention.
Just 4 kilometers from the Canyon is the Sossus Dune Lodge. Some of the team members describe this as the Namibian Bora Bora, instead of sandy blue beaches guests get to experience an array of vivid colours from the surrounding rocks, mountains and dunes as well as indulge in the clear African Sky by night.
The lodge has 25 bungalows each equipped with air conditioning; The lodge also offers guided tours to fully unleash the beauty and biological diversity of the desert.
Other properties within the area that the team had the chance to view were. The Elegant Desert Lodge, Elegant Eco Camp, Desert Homestead, Desert Homestead Outpost, Kulala Desert Lodge, Littles Kulala, Hammerstein Lodge , Solitaire Lodge, The Namib Naukluft Lodge, The Soft Adventure Camp, Namib Desert Lodge, We Kebi Lodge, Moon Mountain Lodge, Solitaire Guestfarm as well as the much anticipated Desert Hills Lodge.
The accommodation properties within the Namib Naukluft area offer activities on their properties as well as excursions into the Namib-Naukluft Park.
To enter the National Park, guests will require an entrance permit. These permits are available at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism offices in Swakopmund (+264 64404576), Walvis Bay (+264 64 205 971) and Windhoek (+264 61 284 2111). Permits are also available at the Sesriem.
The most exhilarating part of our trip was our route back home. As our trusted guide took us up the Spreetshoogte Pass.
Spreetshoogte Pass. (Afrikaans: Spreetshoogtepas, literally English: Spreeth’s Peak Pass) is a mountain pass in central Namibia, connecting the Namib Desert with the Khomas Highland by traversing the Great Escarpment, a geological feature of much of the southern part of the African continent. With gradients between 1:4.5 and 1:6 it is the steepest pass in Namibia, as well as the one straddling the biggest elevation difference,descending almost 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) within 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) of road. The top of the pass features a rest place from which there are views into the adjacent Namib are breathtaking .
The pass was erected during World War II by farmer Nicolaas Spreeth, after whom it is named. Spreeth owned the farm Ubib just at the foot of the escarpment. Whenever goods were delivered to his farm they would be dropped at a bus stop at farm Namibgrens (English: Namib border) on top of the mountain. To gather them the choice was to either travel via Remhoogte Pass approximately 30 kilometres (19 mi) southwards, or to trek uphill along existing Zebra paths.