Namib Desert, Namibia


Geologists believe that the Namib Desert is the world’s oldest desert.

The Namib experiences less than 10mm of rain annually and is almost entirely barren.

Strangely, whilst the region is virtually rainless, its air is typically at or near to saturation point, and fog is very common.

The Namib is teeming with animals, including elephants, rhinos, Hartmann’s zebra, lions, gemsbok and the black-faced impala.

A number of rare and interesting plants are present in the Namib Desert, such as the Welwitschia Mirabilis, which consists only of 2 leaves and a stem, and is estimated to reach up to 2000 years old. It can grow up to 6-feet high, and 24-feet wide.

The Namib is home to the highest sand dunes in the world; some of which can reach over 1280ft (390m) high and can even be seen from space.

The Namib Desert lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Central Plateau in Namibia, stretching for about 1,600km from Luderitz  in the south into Angola. It's width varies between 50km and 160km.

The Namib Desert terrain is mostly rocky but also consists of vast areas of sand dunes and gravel plains.

With an average rainfall of less than 10mm per year, the Namib is the only true desert in Southern Africa.

Most of the precipitation that occurs in the Namib Desert and on which the animal and plant life depend is in the form of fog from the Atlantic Ocean.

Accommodation in the main tourist areas of the Namib Desert is plentiful, including lodges.

Places to Visit in the Namib Desert


Sossusvlei, a dry lake that sometimes fills with water after heavy rains in the interior, is located inside the Namib Naukluft Park and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Namib Desert as it is here that the highest sand dunes in the world are found, some of which are over 300 metres high. The first and last light of day blends with the ochre red and brown hues of the dunes to create a visual spectacle that holds visitors in awe. And to climb a dune before sunrise has become a religion to most who flock to this area.

Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia.

Namib Naukluft Park is almost 50,000 sq. km and one of the largest Parks in Africa.

It stretches from near Luderitz in the south to Swakopmund in the north and includes well known areas such as Sesriem, Sossusvlei, Namibrand Nature Reserve, Naukluft Mountains, Sandwich Harbour, Swakop River Valley and Kuiseb Canyon.

Sesriem Canyon

Sesriem Canyon is located near the Namib Naukluft Park Gate. Here the Tsauchab River carved the conglomerate rock of the Canyon to a depth of 30 metres. The Canyon is about a kilometre long and was named after the six leather thongs used by settlers to lower a bucket into the canyon to get water. There is normally always water at the deepest part of the canyon. The Tsauchab River runs through the Namib Naukluft Park and ends at Sossusvlei about 50 kms from the Atlantic Ocean.

The Namib Desert is one of the main attractions in Namibia for its scenic though unusual landscapes, photogenic qualities and remarkable survival of its life forms.

Dead Vlei

Deadvlei is a white clay pan located near the more famous salt pan of Sossusvlei, inside the Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia. 

Deadvlei is a clay pan characterized by dark, dead camel thorn trees contrasted against the white pan floor. The pan was formed when the Tsauchab River flooded and the abundance of water allowed camel thorn trees to grow. However, the climate changed and the sand dunes encroached on the pan, blocking the river from reaching the area.  The trees are estimated to be approximately 900 years old, however they have not decomposed due to the dry climate.

Deadvlei is a paradise for photographers as the contrast between the pitch-black trees and bleached-white pans, and the rusty-red dunes and deep blue sky make for incredible images.  Deadvlei is at least 1km walk from the parking lot so be sure to take drinking water with you.