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Discover the top photo spots in Sossusvlei
One of the most photogenic landscapes on earth is situated on the West coast of Africa, where towering mountains meet the sands of the Namib Desert. Most know it as Sossusvlei or Deadvlei, but those are both just small clay pans in the greater Tsauchab Dune Valley, which is part of the Namib Naukluft National Park. The area within the park that is so famous is the valley that the Tsauchab River cut through the colossal dunes on its journey to the Atlantic.
Many millennia ago, the dunes blocked this river’s path to the sea and today the result is a wetland amongst the world’s highest dunes. This culmination of geographic and meteorological circumstances has resulted in one of earth’s most unique and interesting landscapes. It is the last life of a landscape, dying a slow death on a timescale much too large for us to appreciate. Photographer or not, thousands of people make the journey every year to see and photograph the dunes and dead trees. If you visit this popular tourist attraction at the wrong time it can spell disaster for photographic intentions.
Choosing the right accommodation is crucial, a lesson I’ve learnt over almost 250 days spent in Namibia since 2010. The critical insider tips shared in this guide will go a long way in aiding you to get your own brilliant photographs of Sossusvlei and its surroundings.
Choosing the right month of the year to visit Sossusvlei is of utmost importance – peak season is May-August and the place is totally overrun during those months. Don’t even think about enjoying the silence of Deadvlei as it simply won’t happen. From November to February the temperature rises to 45 degrees centigrade on most days, so those are also months to avoid. The best time to go is March and April, when tourism traffic is still low. It is also the months that one is most likely to see plenty of cloud and perhaps even some green grass amongst the dunes in a good rain-year. Accommodation Choosing the right accommodation is even more important. If you stay outside the park, you’ll only be able to enter at sunrise and you’ll have to be out at sunset. Once you’re inside the park gate, reaching Deadvlei requires a 60-minute drive and then a 30-minute hike. Do the math and you’ll realize that you won’t even be able to shoot golden hour in Deadvlei. This is a nasty tactic devised by the park authorities to give their own accommodation facilities a competitive edge. Camping One way to get better access is to camp at the NWR Sesriem campsite, situated just within the park gate. Guests of this campsite are subject to another inner gate, which opens an hour before sunrise and closes an hour after sunset. This gives you more time, but there’s an even better option. Hotel/Lodge The NWR Sossus Dunes Lodge is situated about 3km into the park and its guests aren’t subject to any gate. There are only poorly enforced earliest departure and latest arrival times for guests of the lodge. In the mornings they usually allow guests to leave the lodge 90 minutes before sunrise, but you can push your luck to two hours. This will give you enough time to reach Deadvlei well within blue hour. In the evenings the rule is usually also 90 minutes, but you can again push your luck a bit and see how the lodge responds. If they are friendly, push your luck a bit more the next night. If you get in trouble, rather not test their patience as you might get fined.
The Best Photo Locations In Sossusvlei
We show you where, when and how to get the very best travel photos in Sossusvlei.