Namib Desert and Sossusvlei 365
Meaning ‘vast place’ in the Nama language, the Namib gets its name from its incredible scale and spectacle. Its towering dunes – by far its most recognizable feature – make up part of one of the world’s oldest and largest deserts, which is a sweeping landscape of rocky terrain and orange sand.
Because of its harsh conditions – where water is largely gleaned from the early morning fog that rolls off the ocean along the Skeleton Coast – you’ll find unique flora and fauna here, which has adapted to the climate. As a result the plantlife is unique, and endemic to the region – one example is the alien-like Welwitschia plant. Likewise the wildlife has adapted, with hardy animal species like ostrich, kudu, gemsbok and springbok thriving, and in some areas even the desert-adapted elephant.
A large portion of the Namib Desert is protected by the Namib-Naukluft National Park, and while most regions are inaccessible, some areas of the park including the Moon Landscape, the dramatic Sesriem Canyon, and Sossusvlei are open to visitors, and very popular (especially Sossusvlei dunes, some of which are the highest in the world – around 380 meters – and whose orange hue is due to the presence of a high percentage of iron in the sand). Climb Dune 45 (one of the easiest and most accessible) for spectacular scenery from the top. Another must-visit attraction is Deadvlei – once an oasis and now a salt pan dotted with blackened, dead acacia trees which form a striking scene against the white salt pan and orange dunes.