The magnificent Namib Sand Sea

The Namib-Naukluft Park is the largest conservation area in Namibia and home to one of the country’s top tourist attractions, the legendary Sossusvlei – a spectacular white pan surrounded by some of the highest sand dunes in the world.

On 22 March 1907, German Governor Friedrich von Lindequist proclaimed three nature reserves, one of which was Game Reserve No 3 in the central Namib Desert. Renamed as the Namib Desert Park in 1962, this tract of scenically beautiful desert was amalgamated with the Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park (proclaimed in 1968) and unoccupied state land in 1979, and proclaimed as the Namib- Naukluft Park. Portions of the Diamond Area as far south as the Aus/Lüderitz road were subsequently added, which virtually doubled its size to 49 768km2, making it the largest conservation area in Namibia, the fifth largest in Africa and one of the largest terrestrial parks in the world. The top attraction in the park and one of the country’s major tourist destinations, second only to Etosha National Park, is Sossusvlei, renowned for its spectacular, desiccated white pan surrounded by majestic star-shaped dunes with deep, warm hues, and close by, the eerie Deadvlei with its bleached skeletons of ancient camel-thorn trees. Other features in Namib-Naukluft Park areSesriem, the Welwitschia Trail, Sandwich Harbour, the Naukluft Mountains and the Kuiseb Canyon.


The Namib-Naukluft is Namibia's largest conservation area.


This section lies between the Swakop and Kuiseb river valleys. Ostrich, springbok and gemsbok are conspicuous, especially on the desert plains, while giraffe, blue wildebeest and warthog also occur here. Hartmann’s mountain zebra, klipspringer and baboon frequent the canyons of the Swakop and Kuiseb rivers, and leopard and spotted hyaena move in and out of the Kuiseb Canyon. Other species include black- backed jackal, bat-eared fox and ground squirrel. This section of the Namib also has a large Lappet-faced vulture population.

An intriguing host of small creatures have adapted to survive in the Namib dunes. The fog-basking beetle, Onymacris unguicularis, drinks water by positioning itself on the crest of a dune, dropping its head and extending its hind legs. Its back serves as a condensation surface for fog, which forms droplets and slides downwards towards its mouth. An intriguing ‘thermal dance’ is performed by the shovel-snouted lizard, Meroles anchietae, to cope with the extreme heat radiating from the dune surfaces.

The Gobabeb Training and Research Centre on the banks of the Kuiseb River has an international reputation for researching Namib ecology. Gobabeb is generally not open to the public, except on open days.

Sandwich Harbour

At Sandwich Harbour the light orange coloured dunes merge with the Atlantic Ocean, creating a lagoon of infinite beauty. The lagoon is a wetland of international importance and supports over 400,000 Palearctic and intra-African waders, cormorantsand significant numbers of Greater and Lesser Flamingoes. A permit must be obtained from the Ministry of Tourism and Environment offices in Swakopmund or Walvis Bay. A four- wheel drive vehicle is essential and the onward and return journey can only be undertaken during low tide.


Many visitors to Namibia say that no part of the desert is visually more dramatic than Sossusvlei with its monumentally high dunes. These gigantic star-shaped mountains of sand – one of the largest was measured from the base as 325 metres high – are a sought-after topic for artists and photographers. The warm tints of the sand contrast vividly with the dazzling white surfaces of the large deflationary clay pans at their bases. One of these, referred to as Dead Vlei, is a large ghostly expanse of dried white clay, punctuated by skeletons of ancient camel-thorn trees, carbon- dated as being between 500 and 600 years old.

Sossusvlei’s mountainous dunes lie at the end of an erosional trough formed by the Tsauchab River. They are shaped by strong multi- directional winds, primarily the southwester, and have three to five sinuous crests, which meet at the highest point to give them their characteristic star shapes.

Visitors are allowed access to Sossusvlei only between sunrise and sunset. The first 60 km of the road from Sesriem to Sossusvlei has a permanent surface and is suitable for sedan cars, whereas the last five-kilometre stretch of sandy track is negotiable by 4×4 vehicles only. A shuttle service is available for people who do not want to hike the last 5 km.

Dead Vlei


The permit office complex for entry to Sossusvlei and other destinations in this section of the park is at Sesriem. Four kilometres south from here is Sesriem Canyon, where the erosion of many centuries has incised a narrow gorge about 1 km in length. At the foot of the gorge, which plunges down 30–40 metres, are pools that become replenished after good rains. Sesriem derives its name from the time when early pioneers tied six lengths of rawhide thongs together to draw water from these pools.

To early inhabitants, the gorge was an important water source in an otherwise waterless area. Even during very dry times there is water in the upper reaches of the canyon, where the deep clefts reduce evaporation. The Tsauchab River flows through the Sesriem Canyon and continues down to Sossusvlei.

The earth's most ancient desert (Namibia's namesake) is vast and ever-changing. An otherworldly landscape of harsh contrasts.


The Naukluft section of the park was created to serve as a sanctuary for Hartmann’s mountain zebra competing with livestock for grazing on farms. With its massive and varied rock formations, Naukluft is a geologist’s paradise. The intermittent layers of horizontally folded igneous rock, quartzite, dolomite and shale are impressive with their giant symmetrical patterns. Five different vegetation communities within the park ensure a wealth of tree and shrub species, and a variety of aloes. Animals found at Naukluft in addition to Hartmann’s mountain zebra are kudu, gemsbok, klipspringer, duiker, steenbok, leopard, baboon, black- backed jackal, bat-eared fox, African wildcat, caracal and aardwolf. Naukluft’s steep cliffs are nesting grounds for various cliff-breeding bird species, including Verreaux’s Eagles.

Permits for Namib-Naukluft

Permits for the Namib-Naukluft Park are available at the permit offices of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism in Swakopmund (064 40 4576), Walvis Bay (064 20 5971) and Windhoek (061 284 2111). Permits are also available at Sesriem.

Incredible adventures await!


Zannier Hotels Sonop 

Zannier Hotels Sonop is a luxurious tented camp nestled at the southern extremity of the Namib Desert, in the Hardap Region. Constructed on top of boulders, the ten spacious tents aim to offer a unique journey through time, with a refined British colonial atmosphere from the 1920’s. Richly furnished with antiques made of fine materials,

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Sossus Dune Lodge

Sossus Dune Lodge offers guests an evocative and life-changing experience. Situated within the park, guests will benefit from being able to reach Sossusvlei before sunrise, and to stay until after sunset, and on their return after an exhilarating day, to relax in the tranquillity and splendour of the Namib Desert, under the spectacular African sky.

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Sesriem Campsite

At the entry to Sossusvlei is Sesriem Canyon, where millennia of erosion have incised a narrow gorge about 1 km in length. At the foot of the gorge, which plunges down 30 to 40 metres, are pools that become replenished after good rains. Sesriem derives its name from the time when pioneers tied six lengths

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Neuras Wine and Wildlife Estate 

At the foot of the Naukluft Mountains, Neuras Wine and Wildlife Estate is a 14,500-hectare oasis boasting natural fresh-water fountains – a desert gem combining ecotourism with winemaking and wildlife conservation. Exclusive red wines and spirits are handcrafted here, echoing the true tase of Namibia. Enjoy a vineyard tour and decadent wine tasting, be dazzled

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Naukluft Camp

The Naukluft section of the Namib-Naukluft National Park was created to serve as a sanctuary for Hartmann’s mountain zebra, which are endemic to Namibia. Other wildlife includes kudu, gemsbok, klipspringer, duiker, steenbok, leopard, baboon, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, African wildcat, caracal and aardwolf. Naukluft’s steep cliffs are nesting grounds for various cliff-breeding bird species, including

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Namib Outpost

The Namib Outpost is situated 30 km southeast of Sesriem, the entrance to Namib-Naukluft National Park, on a private nature reserve bordering the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Namib Sand Sea”. It is the ideal starting point for trips to Sossusvlei, Dead Vlei and the Sesriem Canyon. Other exciting activities offered by the Lodge are horse

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Kwessi Dunes

Kwessi Dunes is located deep in Namibia’s striking NamibRand Nature Reserve, a vast desert wilderness of over 200,000 hectares. With its rolling desert plains and backdrop of craggy mountains and iconic red dunes, this is a place where time seems to stand still and the space is never-ending. Here, it’s not about chasing big game

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Kanaan N/a’an ku sê Desert Retreat 

This enchanting reserve borders the Namib-Naukluft Park with its breathtakingly photogenic dune belt to the west and the Tiras Mountains to the east. Kanaan N/a’an ku sê Desert Retreat is situated on 33 000 ha of unspoilt nature. Contrasting landscapes are never-ending, with rippled sand dunes glowing in the magical light of sunrise and sunset.

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Desert Homestead Lodge 

The Desert Homestead lies three kilometres northwest of the C19 and D854 road junction, approximately 32 km southeast of Sesriem. The wide grassy valley is sheltered by the Nubib, Tsaris and Naukluft mountains with a view reaching the distant dunes of the Namib Desert in the west. In this exquisite position, we offer simple but

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