Namib Sand Sea

Namib Sand Sea
Photo by Michael Novins.

The Namib Sand Sea is a coastal fog desert with extensive dune fields of high natural beauty.

Sand is carried and deposited here from afar, resulting in numerous coloured dune fields with massive shifting dunes. It is the habitat of several endemic invertebrate animals that have adapted to life in a hyper-arid desert environment and use fog as their primary source of water. The Namib Sand Sea is part of Namib-Naukluft Park.

Community Perspective: This is where the gecko licked its own eyeballs in David Attenborough’s ‘Planet Earth II: Deserts’. It’s the number 1 attraction of Namibia, best known for the spectacular beauty of the Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei.

Map of Namib Sand Sea

Load map

Community Reviews

Write a review

Els Slots

The Netherlands - 04-Jan-18 -

Namib Sand Sea by Els Slots

The Namib Sand Sea is the most extensive example in the world of a coastal fog desert. It’s the kind of place nature documentaries rely upon. In David Attenborough’s ‘Planet Earth II: Deserts’ several scenes were filmed here such as the gecko licking its own eyeballs - where thaw had formed in the early morning - to get liquid. The site was inscribed on all 4 natural criteria and it is the undoubted highlight of a trip to Namibia.

The designated area is enormous – about 75% of the size of the Netherlands. But only a small part of it is open to regular tourists. The common access point is at the east, at Sesriem and the Sossusvlei. Only a few tour operators have permits to venture deeper into the Namib Sand Sea (they are named in the nomination dossier).

We stayed overnight at the Sossus Dune Lodge, which is the only hotel within the park’s borders (there’s a campsite as well which has this privilege). This means that you’ll be in the park before sunrise and have all the nice spots to yourself for at least an hour or so. At 5.30 a.m. we were the first to start the climb of Dune 45, at 150m the highest of the red sand dunes along the Sossusvlei access road. Sitting at the top ridge we watched the sunrise, giving the surrounding dunes a deep red colour. Getting down from a sand dune of this height also is great fun.

We then moved on some 10km deeper into the park to what is known as the ‘2x4 car park’. Here the vehicles that are no four-wheel drives have to be left behind. Jeeps will shuttle visitors for the final leg to the access point of Dead Vlei. We however hiked this stretch of 5km, right through the Sossusvlei’s barren clay pan and across some smaller sand dunes. It was a lovely walk which I would recommend to anyone instead of using the shuttle.

A final hurdle is left for everyone after the Dead Vlei car park: there’s a 1.5km struggle through the sand, where you hope to see the famous white pan with the dead trees after each small hill. But it really is at the far end. At one point there may have been 50 tourists at the place at the same time, the pan is, however, larger than I had thought (about 100m across?) and there are plenty of iconic dead trees to take pictures of.

The whole place is terribly hot. We were done for the day at 11 a.m. In the late afternoon, temperatures hit 46 degrees Celsius. Even at the luxurious Sossus Dune Lodge, we had to develop all kinds of tricks to keep ourselves cool. There was only hot water coming from the taps in the rooms, so we filled our water bottles with warm water and then left the bottle in the freezer overnight.

At the end of my tour through Namibia, I was in the town of Swakopmund, just north of the Namib Sand Sea. From here, 1.5-2 hour scenic flights are offered over the whole inscribed area. They are quite pricey at 250-300 EUR, but I heard great things about them. Unfortunately, the minimum of 4 participants could not be met on the day that I wanted to go. Another option to try out for future WH travellers is the helicopter tours from Sesriem.

Read more from Els Slots here.


Belgium - 05-Jun-16 -

Namib Sand Sea by Kbecq

The most well known part of the Namib desert/Namib sand sea are its salt/clay pans such as Sossusvlei & Deadvlei.

However, from the park gates to Sossusvlei it is an approx. 70 km drive through the dunes (for 65 km on a tarred road). If you are at the gates by sunrise these orange dunes are a stunning sight.

Also the 'vleis' (especially Deadvlei) are magical with white salt/clay, black trees, orange dunes and a blue sky.

One of the most beautiful places we have visited...


Switzerland - 17-Mar-16 -

Namib Sand Sea by Walter

I was suprised no one has reviewed this site yet, as it is considered the number one destination in Namibia. I visited the area back in 1996.

The « Namib Sand Sea » is a huge desert of sand dunes blocked between the semi-arid plains in the east and the cold atlantic ocean in the west. On an independant basis, the Sossusvlei area is the easiest to visit. Nowaday, I’ve read that there can be long lines to enter the park. Back in 1996, it was a solitary place.

Sossusvlei is a magnificiant and magical area. A road, now tarred, is following a large white salt and clay pan deep into the sand sea. All around are numerous high pink dunes, some being more than 300 meters high. It is a photographer’s paradise.

The road follows the bed of the Tsauchab river. The harsh and dry desert conditions prevent the river to flow, and the river bed is almost always dry. The road from the park entrance (in a settlement called Sesriem) to Sossusvlei is 60 km long. The last 5 km requires a 4x4 drive. For fit people, and with plenty of water (2 liters per person), it is pleasant to walk those last 5 km to Sossusvlei. It seems that there is now a shuttle service for those last 5 km. Sossusvlei is a clay pan that some year is flooded and transformed into a lake. In 1996, the lake was full, but the water was grey and did not reflects the hugh dune in its water.

Climbing up the biggest dunes is possible either from Sussusvlei, or along the road.

Site Info

Full Name
Namib Sand Sea
Unesco ID
7 8 9 10
Natural landscape - Desert

Site History

2013 Inscribed


The site has 1 locations

Namib Sand Sea


The site has

Human Activity
Visiting conditions
WHS on Other Lists
World Heritage Process


Community Members have visited.

4matcha A. Mehmet Haksever AC AGrego Aalberty Alexander Barabanov Alicemears Andrew Wembridge Aspasia Atila Ege Auserican Bborders Bergecn Bernard Joseph Esposo Guerrero Bgbaum Bob Parda Bram de Bruin Buffy Carlo Sarion Carlos Garrido Carstenhansen Cb Chapnis Chiuliqi Circlingthebucketlist Claire Bradshaw ClaireWhiteley Deffra Donald M Parrish Jr Drinkteatravel Dutchbirder Eatexplore57 Elaine McArdle Els Slots Emili Xaus Eric PK Eva Kisgyorgy FGKJR1492X Fan Yibo Fedekiwi Fernweh Gary Arndt Geert Luiken Gernot Hammeel Handballrama Harald T. Harry Mitsidis Iain Jackson Izzet Ege JGirlJGirl Jacob Otten Janameerman Jason and Corrinna Javier Coro Jay T JoeriNortier Jon Eshuijs Jonas Bergmann Joshuakirbens Joyce van Soest Judit Dalla Judith Tanner JudyWalsh Juropa KB1 Karin Heyl Kasienka5 Kbecq Knomadc Krijn Loic Pedras Longdutch Loratodorova Lou1983 Lucio Gorla Ludvan MAURO PODDA MMM Malgorzata Kopczynska Marcel staron Mariam Marlies van Wolfswinkel Martin Lind (Switzerland) Mcclaud71 Michael Novins Michael Turtle Michal Kozok Mikek Mikko MirksB MoPython Monica66 Monika and Rini Morodhi Nej153 Niall Sclater Nicole Kilian Nihal Ege Nomad99 Pascal Cauliez Patrik_globe Philipp Leu Pieter Dijkshoorn Preiki Randi Thomsen Reiseblitz Reisedachs Ri Richard Stone Roman Bruehwiler Royacurt SHIHE HUANG Sascha Grabow Seadie Seethebee Sergio Arjona Solivagant Stanislaw Warwas Stephhollett Sutul Svein Elias Tamara Ratz Tatiana Nikulnikova Thomas Buechler Thomas Kunz Thomas van der Walt Timothy C Easton Tino A Offner Tonioto Tony0001 Toya HornHoward TravelPeter84 Trine Vanessa Buechler Vernon Prieto Vlad Lesnikov Wait About Walter Waxwing Wolfgang Sander Worldstuwim Zizmondka Zoë Sheng Zsuzsanna Forray