Sesriem - Sossusvlei

Sesriem Travel Blog

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The road my GPS brought me to

First day, first lesson

 

During my previous visits to this country I had felt a very strong sense of freedom when driving along the Namibian roads, across those huge open spaces of sheer natural wonder. Even more so on this trip, as I come here with no fixed itinerary, driving a 4x4 pickup equipped for camping (with a tent on the roof of the vehicle), a GPS and a satellite telephone (rented with the car, for safety purposes).

 

I bought this TomTom GPS for this trip and had a couple of opportunities to try it in Perth before departing.

The end of the road
I also purchased online the Southern African set of maps (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho).

 

So here I go, I enter my destination location Sesriem in the GPS, the device gives me the distance and the time my journey should take, and I am on my way to Rehoboth. The program did ask me if I'd prefer avoiding non tarred roads, to which I replied no, since I know dirt roads are the only way to go to Sesriem. Sesriem is the gate to the Namib-Naukluft National Park and the scenic dunes of Sossusvlei.  [Note: I am also running a data logging program in the background that will record the coordinates of my location either every 5 km, every 5 min or after a change of direction by more than 30 degrees (which ever event happens first - these are the parameters that I chose). The data is saved in a format which can be directly loaded into Google Earth: a great way to keep track of the itinerary, also a way to geotag the photos I will be taking...]

 

South of Rehoboth, the friendly female voice of the GPS tells me to turn right onto this gravel road, which I execute without questioning, and I am off on this D1262 track.

Too much current to drive across
.. Then it is half an hour of silence before the voice tells me once again to turn right, onto the D1290, but there is no road on the right... well there is, but it is just a 100m further, and it is closed by a cattle gate! There is apparently something wrong, but I thought anyway let’s give it a try, and if the road is too bad I can always drive back... Well you probably guessed it, after about 10km on that narrow single lane track whose condition was getting worse and worse, I realised I should not try any longer. At that point I saw a track going to an isolated farm. I drove there and met with a group of Namibians. Doing the hand talking as a way to communicaly, they confirmed to me that I should not try to go any further. I was interested to see that one of the kids there was wearing the blue shirt of the French soccer team, with Zinedine Zidane's name on the back. When I commented on this and pronounced this footballer's name the kid had a big smile on his face!

 

So I drove back to the "main” gravel road, gave a lift to a man who must have been walking for tens of kilometres... and dropped him at his farm. I tried the next road to the right as per this man’s instructions and the friendly voice from the GPS, drove 500m until I was stopped by a river crossing with too much water for me to even consider trying to go through.

Fish River. At least there was a bridge...
.. I had to drive all the way to the tar road, to Kalkrand,  head South and then West again, to finally reach Sesriem from the South after driving through the very scenic Tsaris pass . I arrived around 6 pm, after a long journey and a huge detour.

 

First lesson: don’t follow blindly the friendly voice of the GPS! It just doesn’t replace a map, well not in a place like Namibia anyway. Just by looking at the map I could have seen which was the main road to Sesriem and could have avoided wasting all this time...

 

In Sesriem I stayed a couple of nights in Sossusvlei Lodge. I thought the 450 N$ they were going to charge at the camping site was ridiculous.

Floods after the heavy rains
I preferred to pay more, but then the price for the lodge also included a nice buffet dinner and a big buffet breakfast. It is a great place where to stay and watching the sunset from the terrace of the “luxury tent” was awesome.

 

There is one advantage if you stay at the camp. You can stay longer in the National Park, leave earlier in the morning and return later in the afternoon. It is not possible to overnight inside the Park.

 

Second day, second lesson

 

The gates for the non campers opened at 6.

Dunes along the way to Sossusvlei
45 am. There was a bit of a queue in the office of people waiting to pay the entrance fee (N$ 70).

 

The road from Sesriem to Sossusvlei is a 60km section of tarred road going through a valley surrounded by massive sand dunes. It gets narrower as you head West towards the 2x4 parking. From this parking it is a 5km drive on soft sand, restricted to 4x4s. If you are in a 2x4 vehicle or do not feel safe driving in your 4x4 to Sossuvlei then you can take a shuttle vehicle which will drop you off and pick you up later, after you have explored the area and done the walk to Deadvlei as most visitors do (takes about for 20min each way).

 

Deadvlei is a salt pan whith dead trees supposed to be nearly 900 years of age. On the left side of the valley a few young camel thorn trees not only are surviving but seem to be doing well.

Oryx
The contrast in colours between the white pan, the black dead trees, the orange of the dunes and the green of the young trees is stunning.

 

On the way to the 2x4 parking I stopped at Dune 45, one of the highest dunes in the area, to take a few pictures, but did not climb it.

 

Along that 5km stretch of sand to Sossusvlei I did get stuck at one point... I have driven 4x4s in the past but had never done it in soft sand. Fortunately it wasn’t too bad and after removing the sand behind the wheels with my hands, I was able to reverse to a harder spot and then start again to reach my destination.

 

This was a second lesson for me, not to overestimate my 4x4 driving skills.

Oryx
I knew there would be people around to assist in case of a problem in that particular area (with the 4x4 shuttle drivers). But you do not want this to happen in a remote area...

WorldXplorer says:
Namibia is a great destination. Highly recommended! :-)
Posted on: May 13, 2010
Torwart says:
Great blog!
Posted on: Nov 06, 2009
maloney33 says:
hey man i love the journal you did here, great photos
Posted on: Aug 20, 2008
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The road my GPS brought me to
The road my GPS brought me to
The end of the road
The end of the road
Too much current to drive across
Too much current to drive across
Fish River. At least there was a b…
Fish River. At least there was a …
Floods after the heavy rains
Floods after the heavy rains
Dunes along the way to Sossusvlei
Dunes along the way to Sossusvlei
Oryx
Oryx
Oryx
Oryx
Oryx
Oryx
Dune 45
Dune 45
Dune 45
Dune 45
Dune 45
Dune 45
Dune 45
Dune 45
Dune 45
Dune 45
Dune 45
Dune 45
Dune 45
Dune 45
The tar road between Sesriem and S…
The tar road between Sesriem and …
Sossusvlei
Sossusvlei
Sossusvlei
Sossusvlei
Sossusvlei
Sossusvlei
Deadvlei
Deadvlei
Deadvlei
Deadvlei
Deadvlei
Deadvlei
Deadvlei
Deadvlei
Deadvlei
Deadvlei
Hiddenvlei
Hiddenvlei
Sossusvlei Lodge
Sossusvlei Lodge
The luxury tents
The "luxury tents"
Inside the luxury tent
Inside the luxury tent
The view from the tent, at sunset
The view from the tent, at sunset
Photo from Google Earth to show an…
Photo from Google Earth to show a…
Sesriem Hotels & Accommodations review
Luxury camping in the Namibian desert
This lodge is located in Sesriem just outside of the gate to the Namib Naukluft Park. It is the ideal place where to stay if you are visiting the sand… read entire review
Sesriem
photo by: WorldXplorer