Sesriem Park: Namib-Naukluft National Park
The highlight of visiting Sesriem Park was seeing the Dunes and Deadvlei, but there is so much more to Sesriem. This area is best known for its dunes, which are considered some of the highest in the world. The main attractions in the park are Dune 45, Big Daddy Dune, Deadvlei and Sossusvlei. Sossusvlei is best viewed after rains when the area is partially filled with water.
The lesser known attractions:
Most visitors visit the popular Dune 45, Big Daddy Dune and DeadVlei. There are however other attractions in Sesriem that can be visited with less crowds. In no particular order, the other attractions I found in the park are listed below.
Located two kilometers from the 2×4 car park. There are less visitors here as most tourist visit Deadvlei. It is only a four km return walk from the 2×4 car park and is marked with wooden sign posts. There are a lot less visitors, so if solitude is what you are looking for, this is the place to go.
Narravlei and Cessnavlei:
This is one of the lesser known marshes. Unfortunately we did not get to explore these areas due to time constraints. I plan on visiting these areas the next time I visit the park.
Early explorers named this canyon area Sesriem, as they used ses (six) riem (thin leather straps), tied together to form a long rope to lower buckets into the canyon below, enabling them to collect water.
Sesriem Canyon is about 1km long and up to 30 meters deep at certain points. The canyon was shaped by the Tsauchab River over many years. There are interesting rock formations and multiple layers of rocks which can be viewed when walking on the canyon bed. We visited over two days, before and after climbing the dunes. You have the option of walking on the canyon bed or walking above, looking down into the canyon below.
This is a fairly easy walk and is suitable for all ages and various fitness levels. The walk is mostly unshaded, so I do recommend wearing a hat and carrying water with you. You can access the canyon with the same general access Sesriem Park permit used to access the dunes. You can purchase the permit from Sesriem office, between the main external and internal gate.
Sesriem Fairy circles:
This natural phenomenon of circles in the landscape can be seen along the road when driving in the park. There were no visible signs for the circles in the park, we just happen to see them as we stopped to look at wildlife crossing the road.
These mysterious circles are clear patches in-between vegetation. There are many versions of how these fairy circles are formed. One of them is that termites are the cause, as they clear the area below ground for their nests and a ‘blank’ circle is formed above ground when the vegetation is cleared.
Wildlife at Sossusvlei:
You can see oryx, springbok, sand scorpions, lizards, jackals, sand geckos, sand snakes and various other insects, just to name a few. We saw oryx and springbok roaming freely through the campsite, which added to the unique experience of camping in the desert.
This dune is located close to the entrance gate and allows a quick opportunity to visit a dune if you are pressed for time.
Sesriem Park Entrance fees:
There is a daily entrance fee to get into the park to access the dunes and other attractions. The fee is 60 Namibian dollars per person (R60) for SADC residences and 10 Namibian dollars (R10) for the vehicle.
Driving inside Sesriem park:
There is a 60 kilometer an hour speed limit inside the park. Thankfully this once notoriously bad road, has now been tarred, so driving inside the park is a breeze! 2×2 and 2×4 vehicles can only go as far as the 2×4 car park, after which you can walk, use your 4×4 vehicle, or use the shuttle service.
Deadvlei, Big Daddy Dune and Sossusvlei is accessible by shuttle. It is R170 per person return fee for a 10-15-minute ride. The shuttle pickup point is at the 2×4 car park.
Staying inside Sesriem park:
One of the benefits of staying inside the park, is access to the dunes an hour before and an hour after the main gate opening times. The different access times is based on when the main external gate and the secondary internal gate opens.
The main external gate allows you to gets you to the office, campsite and general facilities at Sesriem, as well as Sesriem Canyon. You can purchase your permit to access all the attractions. The internal gate allows you to access the various dunes, marshes, fairy circles and to see roaming wildlife in the park.
The summer opening times for the internal gate at the time of our visit was 6am to 8pm. The summer opening times for the main external gate was 7am to 7pm. This gate is locked at 7pm and we saw 2 cars who could not get out of the park at the external because they did not stick to the times. Not sure if they got out or had to sleep in their car until the next day!
There is an on-site shop, restaurant and bar. The restaurant mostly offers fast food, which I found quite pricey for the quality of food offered. The shop sells fire wood and other basic items if you are camping in the park.
Accommodation inside Sesriem park/Sossusvlei:
The majority of the accommodation available in the Sossusvlei area, is located outside Sesriem park, which means you have a shorter time to spend inside Sesriem park, than if you stay inside the park. For photographers, this extra time is vital for ensuring you get epic sunrise or sunset photos from the dunes.
Options for staying inside Sesriem park, is camping and luxury dune lodges. We enjoyed our one night of camping inside the park and the facilities were fine for the one night stay. There are more than 40 campsites in this park so expect it to be very busy in peak times.
How to get to Sesriem Park:
We drove down from Walvis Bay to Sesriem Park. It is a straightforward drive but on a gravel road. Getting to Sesriem is easier with a high clearance vehicle due to the condition of the roads, which include undulations, in addition to gravel and unannounced potholes. Most roads are not tarred in this area. A reliable, as well as a 4-wheel drive or a higher clearance vehicle, is a better option you are doing a road trip.
Hope you found this information useful.
Until next time. Adventure Awaits.