Sossusvlei / Sesriem The Sossusvlei, Namibia's famous scenic highlight in the heart of the Namib Desert, is a huge clay pan, enclosed by giant sand dunes. Some of the spectacular dunes reach a height of 300 metres, which makes them the highest dunes in the world. In this gigantic sea of sand the dune ridges slope from a cust in a star pattern in different directions why they are referred to as star dunes.
The dunes of the Namib desert have developed over a period of many millions of years. Vast quantities of sand were deposited into the Alantic Ocean by the Orange river. This material was subsequently moved northwards by the Benguela current to be dumped back onto the land by the surf. The coastal sand was then continuously shifted further inland by the wind.
Wind permanently reshapes the patterns of the Namib dunes. It timelessly forces the grains of sand on the flat windward slope upwards to the crest of the dune. Here they fall down in the wind shade. The leeward slope is therefore always considerably steeper than the windward side.
The clay ground of the Sossusvlei is almost always dry. Only after a heavy rainfall, which is a rare event in this area, every ten years in average, does the vlei fill with water. As the clay layers hardly allow any water infiltration, a turquoise lake will remain for quite some time.
The restcamp at Sesriem is the starting point for the 65 kilometre long access drive to the Sossusvlei. The Namibian government runs a campground and the Sossus Dune Lodge at Sesriem. And there are private lodges in the area as well. Another attraction in Sesriem is the Sesriem Canyon. The Tsauchab River has formed a gorge millions of years ago. Steeply, almost vertically the rockwalls stand up, in parts 30 metres high. The insection measures only a few metres.
Travel Information and Accommodation
Photos: Bottom left the Sossusvlei. After long rainfalls the clay pan fills with water to form a lake - in average once in 10 years. Top: Old tree in the vlei.