This place may not ring a bell if you’ve never been to Namibia before, but I would imagine that you have probably seen the iconic photos. Dead gnarly trees up against bright orange sand dunes. This place is Deadvlei, located nearby the Sossuvlei area of the Namib Naukluft Desert in Namibia.
So when I signed up for my overland trip from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, I made sure this was included in the trip and sure enough it was! I hope through this travel blog, I can give you some good info on Deadvlei and also show you some of the amazing photos I was able to take while there.
History of Deadvlei Namibia
The way Deadvlei formed is quite interesting and is a testament to the incredible climate of this area. Deadvlei when translated means “Dead Marsh”, and is exactly what this area is. Basically, long story short, this area used to be a marsh with water.
Over time, the climate changed rapidly. So the camel thorn trees that were growing in the marsh, dried up along with the water and revealed the white clay ground. It became dry so quickly, that the trees died, but because the air is so dry, they don’t decompose.
How to Get to Deadvlei
The way into Deadvlei Namibia, is the same as getting to Dune 45 like I describe in my article on watching sunrise from Dune 45. It’s a long trip from Windhoek to get to Sesriem and Sossusvlei, so I recommend you stay at one of the places I described in my article above and add Deadvlei to the same trip as seeing Dune 45.
In fact, for us, after we watched sunrise from Dune 45, we continued on to Big Daddy Dune and Dune 45. However, you can not self-drive to Deadvlei. You can only self-drive to where the pavement ends, and you will find a parking lot. In this parking lot, there are quite a few 4×4 shuttles that are free and the shuttle driver will take you to Deadvlei once they fill up with passengers.
What to Expect
The whole experience at Deadvlei is surreal. It’s unlike anything you have probably experienced.
Once you get dropped off by the 4×4 shuttle, you have the option to climb Big Daddy dune which is one of the largest dunes in the whole park and is the backdrop for Deadvlei. At 325 meters, it is a really tough climb. So because we were a bit short on time, we decided not to climb to the top, but instead just climb to one of the ridges and get a good aerial view of Deadvlei.
From the ridge on Big Daddy dune, we descended to the Clay Pan of Deadvlei. Despite there being quite a few other tourists around, the silence and other worldliness of the area really set in. As you look around, you have the bright blue sky, the bright white of the ground and the deep orange of the dunes around you. A true photographers paradise.
For the next hour or so, we just had time to walk around and admire the whole area with the hundreds of dead trees.
After taking tons of photos, we headed back to the parking lot and took one of the 4×4 shuttles to take us back to our overland vehicle.
Tips for Visiting Deadvlei
- The best season to go here is during Southern Hemisphere winter. Temperatures are much cooler, so you won’t be baking in the heat. Even during winter season, it got quite warm by mid-afternoon. You can only imagine how hot it gets during summertime.
- Please do not climb, touch or hold onto the trees. There are signs mentioning this, however, you don’t really see them if you are coming down from the dunes. This advice is so the trees stay protected and don’t get damaged.
- If you have time, a climb to the top of Big Daddy dune is worth it. It will be exhausting, but worth the effort. A lot of people will run down the front side of big daddy dune to get down more quickly.
So is Deadvlei somewhere you would want to go and an addition to your Namibia Bucket List? Have some more questions or need more info? Let us know in the comments below!