Dune 45 in Namibia. This is probably one of the most photographed dunes in the country and for good reason. It’s beauty at sunrise is incredible and photographers love the contrast of the orange sand with the sky.
Located in an area called Sesriem within the Namib Naukluft Desert, it got its name because it is located 45km from the gate leading to the dunes and soussusvlei.
Dune 45 in Namibia
How to Get to Dune 45 and Sossusvlei
For me, I was part of an overland trip from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, so Namibia was just a part of the itinerary. We stayed overnight in Sesriem Camp, which is one of the closest locations to stay to access the dunes and Sossusvlei.
However, if you are not on an overland trip, you would want to make your way to Sesriem by driving from Windhoek which is a little over 350km and would take over 6 hours. It’s highly recommended to have a 4×4 as there are some sections especially within the park where you need the high clearance and 4×4 capabilities. To just get to the park itself though, you could be fine just being in a normal vehicle.
There are also tours that run from Windhoek if you aren’t on an overland trip and don’t have your own vehicle. These tours can be found on tourradar.com. These typically start over $400USD and go upwards from there.
As for getting to Dune 45, it’s highly recommended if you want to see the sunrise from the Dune, that you stay in either Sesriem Camp or Sossusvlei Lodge as those are the lodgings within the park, so you will be able to get to Dune 45 before sunrise. If you are outside the park and trying to get in to see Dune 45, you will be out of luck as the main gates to the park only open at sunrise.
Sunrise at Dune 45
It was an early morning for us at the camp and all woke up fairly tired to start our day. We all hopped into the overland vehicle and made our way to the gate at Sesriem camp where we were staying. Luckily for us we were vehicle number 2 or 3 waiting to get into the park.
As mentioned above, if you are staying in Sesriem Camp, there is a special gate for guests staying there that they open around 30 minutes to an hour before sunrise so you can make it to the dune on time.
So sure enough, the gate opened and we made our way down the paved road to Dune 45. The sky was starting to lighten up and the dunes became a lot more prominent and visible. The area is truly spectacular with dunes in almost every direction.
We got to the parking lot for Dune 45 and caught our first glimpse of this 170m (560ft dune).
If you are looking at the picture above, you are probably thinking that it looks quite small. Don’t let that fool you. The climb up this dune and most any sand dune is quite a challenge. It’s usually two steps up and at least one step down as your feet sink into the sand.
Thankfully, for us, we were the first ones there and started our way up the dune. It might have been adrenaline or sheer excitement for seeing the sunrise soon, but we quickly made our way up to the top of the dune for fear of missing out on the rising sun. It wasn’t easy, but we had time at the top to catch our breath a bit and wait for the sun.
The temperature was quite cold as it was the heart of the winter season for this part of the world and the wind was blowing a bit at the top. As we were waiting, more and more vehicles started to enter the parking lot and more people were making their way to the top of the dune.
It was an amazing feeling to be there at the top of the dune and see the colors start to change and the sun started to make its way to the horizon.
Finally, the sun popped up over the horizon and bathed the area in the most incredible color. The dunes turned from a dull orange to a vibrant orange hue.
In an area so remote like this, even with everyone else on the dune with you, you feel like you are the only person there is this wide expanse of desert.
So we stayed on the top of Dune 45 for probably 15 to 20 minutes, just enjoying the warmth of the sun on our faces and taking as many pictures as possible. From there, it was a quick trip back down the dune (much easier than going up it), to enjoy a delicious breakfast in front of the dune provided by our overland company.
We weren’t finished in Sossusvlei though as from here we continued onward to the dune known as Big Daddy and Deadvlei.
In fact, out of all my travels, this is one of the most remote and incredible areas I’ve been. The whole area feels other worldly and I highly, highly recommend a trip here if you are in Namibia or Southern Africa.
Hotels in Sesriem
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Sesriem has a good range of accommodations. I’ll list some below or click here to see all of your options:
Sesriem Camp – This is where we stayed and is the lowest cost out of the 3. They have nice campsites and a nice shower/toilet area. There is a restaurant and giftshop and it’s close to sesriem canyon if you want to explore that during your time there. They are located within the park, so you get priority for getting to the dunes for sunrise.
Desert Camp Sesriem – This is a tented camp similar to what we call Glamping in the US. Beautiful facilities and a more upscale feeling. With only 20 tents, you will feel a sense of privacy here.
Sossusvlei Lodge – If you are looking for luxury in the desert, this is the lodge for you. With beautiful accommodations and air conditioned rooms, this lodge will cater to what you need. They will easily be able to book your tours or help you get your way to the dunes.
Travel Tips for Dune 45, Namibia
- The best season for visiting Dune 45 in Namibia is during the winter months of May-September. This is when it’s the coolest and offers the best weather. Other months will probably be clear, however, it can get extremely hot in this area.
- You don’t have to be extremely fit to climb the dunes, however, it does help. It’s not easy fighting the sand as you climb up the dune. Proper footwear helps in climbing the dune.
- Sunrise is the best time of day to visit Dune 45 in Namibia. This is because it is when you can see the sand change color and transform before your eyes. If you can’t make it for sunrise though, mornings are still best as that is when it is the best temperature.
- Make sure to schedule enough time to visit the rest of the area. As we were on an overland trip, we just had a little over a day here. However, there is so much here, you could easily spend 2-3 days climbing various dunes and seeing other amazing places nearby.
- If you are staying overnight in Sesriem, look up at the night sky. These are some of the darkest skies in the world and travelling to Namibia, this should be a highlight of your trip. The milky way core is so easily seen and millions of stars are visible.
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