Extraordinary Africa>Namibia>The Namib Desert
The Namib Desert is a legendary wilderness, and once you’re standing atop a sand dune at Sossusvlei, it almost impossible to see where the sand sea ends.
If you’re imagining a Namibia of endless red sand dunes, parched desert and petrified trees, it’s probably Sesriem, Sossusvlei, and the area around them that you’re picturing. We loved every second of our visit here. The vleis are the parched, flat valleys between the dunes, that in rare months of rain turn into shimmering lakes reflecting sand and sky. For the rest of the year they’re the springboard for exploring the dunes. Photograph them from the ground, or take a dawn hike up Big Daddy before skating down the sand to the bottom. Nearby there’s Dead Vlei, where the remains of ancient trees stand blackly against the sky. If exploring on land isn’t enough, brave the early morning start and try a hot air balloon flight over the dunes.
On the eastern side, the dunes are bounded by the gorgeous Nakluft Mountains which feel almost otherworldly. Quiver trees jut up into the skies, monitor lizards hiss behind ancient boulders, and stone arrowheads lie on the ground where they were cast aside by our ancestors. The best thing to do here? Get out of your car, stretch your legs, and head up into the hills.
South of Sossusvlei and Sesriem is the beautiful sweep of the NamibRand nature reserve, sandwiched between the Nakluft Mountains and the sand sea. This area is utterly ravishing, and spans the full range of desert landscape, from deep red sand dunes, through golden grassy plains and far off-mountain peaks. Staying here is all about exploring your surroundings. And although it’s an over-used word, they are quite simply, stunning.