The Namib Desert is one of the oldest deserts in the world because it has been arid since millions of years; the Namib stretches along the West coast of Namibia, from North to South for more than 1,300 kilometers and a large part of its territory is protected within the Namib-Naukluft National Park, the largest national park in Africa.
Namib means "open space" and from the name of this desert also derives the name of the state where it is located, Namibia; the landscape that characterizes it consists of sand dunes in warm, rich colors with a range that goes from orange to dark red.
The color of the dunes depends on the oxidation of the iron content in the sand, the oldest dunes are those that have undergone more the oxidation of the particles and are those with the most intense and dark colors.
Some of this ancient desert dunes are partially covered with vegetation, but this occurs only on those larger and more stable, the other are changed and molded continuously by the wind and this does not allow the vegetation to survive.
In this sea of sand several rivers flow, but these are ephemeral rivers that sometimes fill temporary pools of water; these pools are called vlei that in Afrikaans means "swamp".
The Vlei, when they are dry, and this happens most of the year or even for years, have a white color due to the salinity of their land and this creates an incredible contrast with the orange of the dunes and the deep blue of the sky.
Among the most famous of these ephemeral pools there is the Sossusvlei, this is among the most frequented touristic locations because it is one of the most easily accessible, actually Sossusvlei also indicates the surrounding area to the related vlei.
To access the Sossusvlei you must go to the Sesriem town, where there is one of the few gates of the park and where you can buy the park entrance tickets.
The Sesriem and the Sossusvlei are located along the Tsauchab riverbed, one of the major rivers flowing into the central Namib sea of dunes but never reaching the ocean, their ride stops in the desert, creating salty lakes or pools surrounded by red sand dunes.
The Sossusvlei area is a kind of large and wide valley between the dunes, this separation between the sea of sand was created and maintained for centuries by the action of the Tsauchab river and now makes the site easily accessible without the use of 4x4 vehicles.
The road leading from the Sesriem to the Sossusvlei is about 60 kilometers long and follows the river path, even if the river surface is dry, the waters flowing underground allow the life of plants and shrubs.
Along this road, just 4 km from the entrance, you come across the Sesriem Canyon; continuing along this path you find many beautiful dunes like the Elim dune and the dune 45, the most photographed dune in the world, only to finally get to the Sossusvlei where are the Big Daddy dune, the highest in the world and the vlei, the Sossusvlei, the Deadvlei and the Hiddenvlei.