Sossusvlei is the region where you will find the quintessential images of Namibia – the towering sand dunes of red and gold, the sprawling pans spotted with occasional plantlife, and the stark and intriguing landscape for which the country is most famous.

Part of the southern Namib Desert and located within the Namib-Naukluft National Park borders, Sossusvlei refers specifically to the salt and clay pan carved out by the Tscauchab River. Translating to “dead-end marsh”, Sossusvlei forms a valley between the mountains of sand that meanders toward the Atlantic coast. Its path never reaches the ocean, but it has been molding the desert landscape little by little over time. Although the river seldom holds water so far into the desert, it can take up to a year to completely dry out, leaving enough residual moisture to sustain a smattering of plants and wildlife. In contrast, nearby Deadvlei is what remains of an ancient former river route, identified by its near-white floor and petrified trees stretching skyward and forever frozen.

The sands surrounding Sossusvlei are quite soft and accessed only by 4×4 vehicles. Dominating the landscape and reaching heights of over 1,000 feet—or more than 10 stories tall—these tumbling hills of sand have been formed over millennia and are composed of earth originating from the Kalahari. Dune 45 is perhaps the easiest of these giants to visit, located at kilometer 45 on the paved road into the region. Like many dunes here, Dune 45 is classified a “star dune”, with varying wind patterns having created many “arms” that indeed resemble a twisting starfish from above.

Photographers and intrepid safari-goers have flocked from across the globe to capture stunning images of this amazing place, but seeing it for yourself is something that simply must be a part of any luxury Namibia safari. Easily combined with the wonders of the Namib Desert, include Sossusvlei on your own custom journey to Namibia by contacting the Ker & Downey luxury travel consultants.