15th May 2018 Mrs L 4Comment

Desert Dreams:

Visiting Sossusvlei in Namibia, has been one of my travel dreams. Somehow I never got to visit the area. I was always fascinated by photos of this orange landscape and Dune 45. The Sossusvlei area is best known for its dunes and the dunes are considered as some of the highest in the world. What makes this area so unique is orange red sands found here. This year, my husband and I made a spur of the moment decision and headed to the desert for my birthday.

Dune 45:

We arrive at Sossusvlei and first on my list to do in the park, is Dune 45, the curved dune. Blown by wind from all directions, the dune can take many shapes and extended dune arms can form. The sands are red in colour due to their high iron oxide content.

Red sand dunes
Red sand dunes

Standing at 85 meters tall, Dune 45 is one of the most famous and popular dunes in the park. It is named Dune 45, due to its proximity to Sesriem gate. Why is it so popular? Located 45 kilometers in from the main gate, on a tarred road, it is easily accessible with all types of vehicle. It is one of the most photographed dunes in the world.

First Impressions of Dune 45:

We arrive at the dune just after 5pm, slightly earlier than when the crowds arrive, to watch the sunset. This was going to be my first proper dune climb as an adult. The sun is still quite harsh but there are no visitors yet, perfect for taking photos of the dune. It’s hard to believe these perfectly formed dunes were formed by wind and sand blown all the way from the coast.

Approaching Dune 45
Approaching Dune 45

Five minutes and a few photographs later, a bus load of tourists arrive. Gazing up at the gigantic pile of red sand in front of me, cameras in hand, we start the climb. Treading on sand that is about 5000 years old, feels like walking through time.

Mountains of red sand:

We are the first to start climbing, so there are no footprints in the sand yet. Walking up with no path ahead makes the walk more challenging. At times it can feel like hard work as with every step you take into the soft sand, it feels like you are sinking deeper into the dune and not going forward fast enough!

Climbing Dune 45
Climbing Dune 45

The sun is still beating down and the wind starting to pick up the higher we climb. Sipping water from a hydration packs helps. Every break I take climbing, I appreciate the view around me. After we pass the bottom peak, a slightly steeper climb awaits us to get to the top peak. I can see the sunset is going to be epic. Stopping to take photos helps me catch my breath, even for just a moment. With our eye on the prize, we continue up.

Views while climbing dune 45
Views while climbing
Still climbing
Still climbing
What a view

Golden Hour at Dune 45:

We reach the top and are rewarded with the most amazing views of sand dunes as far as the eye can see. The wind is blowing quite strong at the top peak and we sit down to take in this dune valley.

Resting at the top of dune 45
Resting at the top

Perched on the dune ridge, everyone is quiet, watching in awe as the sun rays playfully dance on the dunes below and the landscape starts to change. The sun begins to set and that is when the magic happens. It is then that the landscape turns from orange to gold. This is what we came to see. I look down at the golden sands below my feet and think the term golden hour had to be coined here.

Golden hour from dune 45
Golden hour from the dune

Stunned by the silence and mesmerised by the colours of the ever-changing landscape, for a moment I forget about the wind blowing. Watching the sunset from this dune with my husband, was breathtakingly beautiful and an experience I will never forget.


Take only memories:

We are staying inside the park so we leave the dune after 7pm. Cameras in bag, and a layer of sand stuck to our faces, we make our way down. The temperature is finally dropping and there is a chill in the air. There is still a handful of people taking in the moment and sitting lower down on the dune as we make our way down. Running down is a breeze after the steep climb.

Making our way back

I reach the bottom of the dune with boots filled with sand and I am walking lopsided. My left boot has more sand in it than the right. We take our boots of, shake out the sand and take only memories with us.

Sand filled boots
The horizon

Just in time:

We drive back to our campsite in the dark and make it back to the internal park gate a few minutes late but fortunately it is still open. Unfortunately for some other unlucky visitors, the main external park gate closed an hour ago already, and they cannot get out of the park. Hopefully they will not have to spend the night in their car. We make our way to Sesriem park restaurant for a well-deserved meal and to chat about the magic we just experienced.

After sunset

Today was adventurous, but tomorrow is going to be even better!

My next blog post features Climbing Bid Daddy Dune and experiencing DeadVlei.

Until next time. Adventure awaits.


Tips for climbing Dune 45:

If you want to watch the sunrise or sunset from a Dune, this is the best one to do so, as it is located closer to the main entrance and therefore more accessible.

Climbing Dune 45 was good preparing for climbing Big Daddy dune the next morning. The walk is not too hard and having a bottle of cold water helps making it to the top easier! Walking on the harder face of the dune makes the walk slightly easier. Walking in the footsteps of someone else on the dune also helps and is easier than creating your own path in the sand.

How to get to Sesriem Park:

Dune 45 is in the Namib-Nakluft National park, also known as Sesriem park. We drove down from Walvis Bay. It is a straightforward drive but on a gravel road. It is best to drive here with a 4-wheel drive vehicle or a higher clearance vehicle. There is a daily entrance fee to get into the park to access the dunes. Dune 45 is located along the side of the tarred road within the park. You do not need a 4 x 4 vehicle to access this dune.


4 thoughts on “Dune 45 at Sunset, what desert dreams are made of

  1. Hi Kim,
    Thanks SO much for sharing this!
    We head off for our Namibian adventure next week and are super excited to be visiting Sossusvlei.
    I grew up in South Namibia but had never managed to visit.
    We will also be driving down from Swakopmund, staying at Namib Dune Star Camp.
    We will then go onto Luderitz, but don’t have a 4×4 so I think we will need to go around.
    Would you mind confirming with me; were you able to drive from Walvis to Sesheim without issue?
    It goes over a ‘green part’ in Google maps so I can’t tell if that means national park or DUNE!
    Please be so kind as to let me know. Thank you! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Meg

      Driving to Sesriem from Walvis was no problem at all. There is no green part that you cannot drive over, it is mostly gravel road. The green area must just be the national park on google. A higher clearance vehicle will help but we saw someone driving from Sesriem back to Walvis in a small 1 litre car, and they had no problem, as we saw them very close to Walvis Bay again. There are areas on the road with underlations, but if your car is reliable and you are alert when you drive, it should not be a problem.

      The road inside Sesriem park is tar, and in a very good condition. There is a 2 x 4 car park in Sesriem park you drive to, where you can leave your vehicle and take the shuttle to get to Big Daddy Dune and Deadvlei. I will be posting more information on Sesriem park, Big Daddy, Deadvlei over the next few days.


  2. Thank you so much Kim!
    We had a flat tire going to Canyon Lodge in the South.
    LONG story short, we were rescued but it’s left me rather shaken.
    I think I’m going to go to to Maltahohe and take the C17 in.
    We’re staying at the Namib Desert Star camp for 1 night so will have to go up through Solitaire.
    I’m in a Corsa, WISH we had a double cab!
    Again, thanks for your help and apologies for the delay, I didn’t get a notification to your reply πŸ™
    Any more thoughts, just let me know πŸ™‚ x

    1. My pleasure Meg.

      Don’t let that shake you! We saw quite a few cars changing tyres along the way, it is part of the experience of driving in Namibia and it will make a good story when you come back πŸ™‚ Carry a spare full size tyre if you have space in your car! Solitaire is a fun stop and the only fuel station for a while, so fill up. Have some of the famous apple pie when you are there. Let me know if you need any more information. Good luck with the rest of your trip and enjoy it.

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