Frozen in time: the alluring beauty of Namibia’s Dead Vlei

By Josephine Wawira

Are you a tourist photographer seeking your next destination to capture those unforgettable natural shots of the world’s beauty? Dead Vlei should be your very next stop. This dried-up marsh located near Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert in Namibia, is a darling picturesque whose fascinating images are commonly used colorful desktop savers across the globe, with gracefully yet somber trees that have frozen in time.   

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Dead Vlei

Characterized by a cracked salt pan, scorched skeletal acacia trees believed to be over 900 years old and surrounded by the tallest sand dunes in the world; Dead Vlei was formed after river Tsauchab flooded to form the clay pan. However, it later surrendered to the persisting climate change in the area, drying up to the extent that even the once towering trees failed to decompose, but were instead scorched black. Yet, there is sign of life in the resolute endurance of plant species such as clumps of nara and salsola shrubs, which survive from the morning mist.   

Reasons to visit

Apart from the opportunity to photograph some of the most captivating images of the Dead Vlei, a morning or evening 4-wheel trail drive below the towering red sand dunes will give you an experience of the most beautiful sunrise and sunset. They form a celestial view as the sunrays strike from the clear skies, through the ghostly trees reflecting into the dead desert.  

Nearby attractions

Sossusvlei is another salt and clay pan near Dead Vlei and is mainly surrounded by the Red Dunes. Like Dead Vlei, its trees have also been scorched black by Namib’s blistering sun. Sossusvlei is River Tsauchab’s final destination.  

In addition, Namib Naukluft National Park is one of the largest conservation areas in Africa, covering approximately 50,000km² and protecting the Namib Desert; one of the oldest in the world. It is advised to take the route from south-central Mariental; to avoid the treacherous mountain passes and at the same time capture exceptional views of the desert.

Accommodation

Sossus Dune lodge is in Sesriem within the Naukluft Park and provides guests the efficiency of reaching Dead Vlei before sunrise and leave after sunset. Additionally, add luxury to your Dead Vlei experience at the Moon Mountain Lodge found in the Naukluft Mountains near the charming little Solitaire village.

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Moon Mountain Lodge

The lodge provides outdoor activities including short distance helicopter flights, ballooning and horse riding and a private splash swimming pool to cool off from the sizzling heat. Guests enjoy an array of traditional Namibian dishes from the lodge’s Nebula Restaurant and drinks from the onsite Cosmos Bar.  

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