After leaving Swakopmund behind, our next destination was the famous dunes at Sossusvlei. On the way, we decided to stop for a hike at the Namib Naukluft National Park.
Hiking the Olive Trail
After arriving in the park the previous afternoon we got up super early again to start our hike at sunrise to avoid being outside during the greatest heat.
The Olive Trail was beautiful and started with a climb towards the orange mountains illuminated by the rising sun. After about an hour we had a picture break at a rock lookout, and close by we spotted some Hartmann zebras and wildebeest.
The next part was a descent into the gorge and the rest of the trail lead us between the cliffs along the former river. The hike was a bit technical but nothing too difficult or scary until we had to pass a little part by climbing along an iron chain on the wall. But we also managed this part and after another 45 minutes of easy walking, we were back in the car.
Trekking the dunes around Sesriem
After the hike, we started towards our next destination. Sesriem and the famous Sossusvlei dune is a highlight on every Namibia trip and one of the most photographed spots in the country. Probably you have seen the dune as well in a car commercial promoting 4×4 cars.
To save money we decided to just stay one day in the park and have an intensive drive around the following day. Since it was our anniversary we got a bottle of wine to celebrate whilst watching the sunset from the (almost) top of a dune.
The next day we had breakfast at 5 am and waited at the gate 15 minutes before it was opened at 6 am. Our first destination was Dune 45 which we climbed to watch a stunning sunrise over the desert landscape. Next, we drove to the end of the paved road and from the parking, we hiked to the Hidden Vlei. Sure it was only 2kms one way but with sore legs from the day before and the desert heat, it felt exhausting. But we were rewarded with a beautiful view over the pan, which we had all to ourselves.
Next came the most adventurous part of the day and Ale mastered the challenge amazingly. The road to the Deadvlei and Sossusvlei is only for 4 wheel drives, which we had, but the shuttle drivers, who bring tourists from the carpark to the dunes, told us our car was too low and said we wouldn’t make it.
Having paid extra for an all wheel drive we wanted to at least try and not pay 15 USD per person for the shuttle. After receiving tips from a way nicer shuttle driver we set off at 35 km/h in second gear and without slowing down, Ale guided us through the sand. We were very proud that we passed some cars way more suitable for the conditions, stuck deeply in the sand.
Once at the 4WD carpark, we had a walk around the Sossusvlei Dune and a bit around the Deadvlei, but at this point, it was getting hot and we were exhausted so we were happy to be back in the air-conditioned car on our way to the next destination.