Sossusvlei Sand Dunes, Namibia, June 21, 2024

Tony Crocker

Staff member
Our Kwessi Dunes lodge guides drove us to the Sossusvlei dunes after a morning hot air balloon ride. The paved road ends near Dune 45, which is 275 feet high and you can see some people climbing it here.

We continued another 5km to the Sossusvlei parking. Here is the view of Big Daddy, the largest dune at Sossusvlei at 1,066 feet.

The climbing route is marked in black. You need to get at least to the X mark to run down into Deadvlei and return to the parking. Before that you must retrace your steps down the dune or you will end up in Devil’s Hole, where you would have to climb out.

Devil’s Hole is at right center and part of Deadvlei is at left. Liz and a couple of other people ascended the shorter dune behind Devil’s Hole.

Liz spotted this on her climb.

After running down the dune another guest Bob followed.

Liz’ view approaching Deadvlei.

As Big Daddy grew, it cut off flash flood water from Deadvlei so those trees died. Some of them have been dead for 900 years but they don’t decay in the consistent dry environment.

In this view the speck on the dune ridge left of center is probably our guide Elias, with me just below him out of sight.

I carefully stepped in Elias’ footprints to avoid backsliding. I finally realized if it was steep I needed to kick steps much as in ski boots climbing snow.

This view shows the direct 1000 vertical fall line from Big Daddy down to the far end of Deadvlei.

The maximum pitch of a sand dune is about 32 degrees. Sand grains are consistent in size and will slough off rather than exceed that pitch.

From the climb this is the view down into Sossusvlei.

The water table is occasionally replenished by flash floods and can support those scattered trees.

View down into Deadvlei:

At last I’m on top.

Dunes extend as far as I can see off the backside of Big Daddy.


From below the long ridge running across this pic was not obvious.

Elias took pics of me running down from top of Big Daddy to Deadvlei.





A few minutes later I’m in the middle of Deadvlei.

The climb took about an hour and a half roundtrip. The rest of the group was waiting at shaded picnic tables for Elias and me. Shortly before we left, an inquisitive oryx approached.
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And I thought Great Sand Dunes National Park was a bizarre place? You've outdone that! This part of Namibia you're showing us is very beautiful in a dry, desolate sort of way. You two are amazingly intrepid travelers.
incredible looking, great trip.. My wife has us going to SE Asia...How do you avoid stomach issues..I'm paranoid about food hygiene..