Namibia is perhaps best known for the dunes at Sossusvlei. At over 300m high, they are the highest dunes on Earth. Iron in the sand oxidises and gives the dunes a reddish colour. The dunes look different colours depending on the light and time of day. Most visitors try to get to the dunes as the sun rises and the dunes are a deep red colour, at midday a soft washed out pastel and in the setting sun, yellow and black. They are a magnet for photographers wanting to capture the magic of the interplay of sand and light.
The dunes form part of the Namib Naukluft National Park in the Namib Desert which is the oldest desert on the planet. The dunes are thought to be sand from the Orange River, which has been washed into the ocean and then swept back ashore by the wind and waves to create the dunes.
There is no accommodation in the park near the dunes, and in fact, most lodges are quite a drive away. To catch the sunrise light, guests will have to get up very early. Once in the park, visitors drive past famous dunes such as Dune 45, which many guests like to climb to admire the view of the surrounding landscape. The largest dune is called Big Daddy.
One of the main attractions is walking to Dead Vlei. This is a usually dry pan, which only fills around once a decade. It has a stand of dead trees which died when the pan dried up and their skeletal branches against the dunes make for atmospheric photographs.