Sossusvlei must be one of the most photogenic places on earth. This bare pan floods very occasionally after rains, but for years on end it’s a parched expanse of salt and clay.
Sossusvlei lies within the Namib-Naukluft National Park. An early morning drive along the corridor of towering red dunes is unforgettable, but do pause to watch (and take pictures) as the sunlight leaks across the desert floor and the sand changes colour.
If you’re feeling energetic, it’s worth climbing Dune 45. It can be quite hard going through the five-million-year-old sand, but the views over the dunes, plus the run down again, are infinitely worth it.
For fitter visitors, there’s also the legendary 325m-high Big Daddy Dune beyond Sossusvlei, where intrepid footprints are smoothed away overnight by desert winds. However, an easier way to gain a bird’s-eye view of Sossusvlei is via a hot-air balloon excursion over the Namib Desert.
Other attractions close to Sossusvlei include the extinct oasis of Deadvlei with its skeletal trees – the scene that launched a thousand Namibian travel fantasies – plus the deep, narrow Sesriem Canyon and the little-visited Hiddenvlei.
North of the Sesriem Gate is the tiny settlement of Solitaire, which combines authentically rusty Mad Max vibes with the chance to sample the best apple strudel for many miles. After a day spent treating your retinas, Sossusvlei has one last gift in store: the million-star luxury of the Namib Desert by night.