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Sossusvlei dunes: pools of water in the desert

One of the major attractions of Namib-Naukluft National Park is the occasional pools of water in Sossusvlei. These scenic pools of water are surrounded by the high red dunes of the Namib desert. Due to the picturesque contrast that exists between the water, the soil of the vlei – white and cracked by aridity – and the intense orange color of the dunes that surround it, Sossusvlei is one of the most photographed places in southern Africa.


Sossusvlei is an ephemeral pool of water formed by the waters of the Tsauchab river. These pools of water are formed only during particularly heavy rains. In these cases, in fact, the waters of the river manage to reach the Sossusvlei area. But here huge dunes, which reach 200 meters in height, prevent the flow of water towards the Atlantic Ocean, which is only 80 km away.

The water then stagnates forming the puddle called Sossusvlei. Name that derives from the Afrikaans term “vlei” which indicates the “marsh”, and from the word in nama language “sossus” which means “without return” or “blind river”, with reference to the fact that the waters of Tsauchab are lost in Namib.

Sossusvlei, Namib Desert, Namib-Naukluft, Namibia. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini..

Sossusvlei, Namib Desert, Namib-Naukluft, Namibia. Author Marco Ramerini..

The fauna of Sossusvlei consists mainly of small animals. They are mainly reptiles and arthropods that have adapted to the extremely arid climate. During the period in which there are pools of water, the region is populated by an abundant birdlife. In fact, the water is a reference to water birds and wildlife. In Sossusvlei you can walk up to the top of the dunes, from where the panorama is breathtaking. The small pool of water that reflects the desert dunes and dunes to infinity all around, which change shapes and colors with the changing position of the sun.

The road inside the park leading to Sossusvlei has recently been paved for most of its route. The paved road ends at the parking lot for 2×4 cars. From here, is possible to continue only with the off-road vehicle or with paid vehicles that carry out the transport service along the last 5 km up to Sossusvlei.

This post is also available in: German

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