Sossusvlei and NamibRand
Interactive Map of Sossusvlei, NamibRand and Namib-Naukluft
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Sossusvlei is an enormous clay pan, flanked by red sand dunes that stand out starkly against the blue sky. These dunes - the most well-known being Big Daddy or Dune 45 - have developed over millions of years, the wind continuously remodelling the contours of this red sand sea. The 'vlei' itself only fills after rare heavy rainfall when, in a complete turn-around, it becomes a spectacular turquoise lake.
Sossusvlei itself means 'the gathering place of water' in the local Nama language, and, odd as it may seem, in good years seasonal rains in the foothills of the Naukluft and Tsaris Mountains succeed in reaching the vleis, creating temporary lakes that mirror the sand dunes surrounding them. The vleis have evocative names such as Hidden Vlei and Dead Vlei, while the dunes rise up to 300 metres above the valley floor with razor-sharp edges that stand out against the blue sky.
Sossusvlei is situated within the Namib Desert which itself is part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park that stretches 400km south of Walvis Bay and is sandwiched between the west coast and the escarpment that runs parallel more than 100km inland. Its huge red dunes and flat valley floors make up the archetypical view of the Namib that is world famous. Desert-adapted wildlife such as ostrich, springbok and gemsbok eke out an existence and are sparsely distributed here. Larger predators include spotted hyena and occasionally brown hyena, an almost mystical shaggy-coated scavenger. Smaller creatures such as bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, porcupine, Cape fox and aardwolf can be seen at night in the cool desert air, and one bird, the aptly named Dune Lark, has its entire global distribution limited to the area, so dependent is it on the area's characteristic sands.
Despite the lack of vegetation and low rainfall, a surprisingly diverse array of insects, reptiles and rodents make their home here - surviving thanks in part to the coastal fog that creeps up off the sea each dawn and penetrates up to 50km inland. Shovel-snouted lizards with their peculiar thermoregulatory dance and tenebrionid beetles have all adapted to life here. Nocturnal explorations can reveal dancing white lady spiders and perhaps Grant's golden mole, a Namib Desert endemic.
NamibRand Nature Reserve
The NamibRand Nature Reserve
(Southern Africa's biggest privately owned reserve) originated as a dream
of extending the desert frontiers by integrating
a large number of former sheep farms and developing a sanctuary free
of fences, so that once again the wildlife could roam their habitat unhindered.
Inviting nature lovers from all over the world to share in this dream
has always been one of the objectives, and today NamibRand is synonymous
with some of Namibia's - if not Africa's - most breathtaking locations.
Covering an area of some 200,000 hectares
close to Sossusvlei, NamibRand is bordered by the Naukluft Park in
the west and the impressive Nubib
Mountain range in the East. The special attraction of the reserve is
the diversity of desert landscapes. Virtually all facets of the Namib
are represented here. Mountains plunging down into endless grassy plains,
which are interspersed by red vegetated dunes, create a living tapestry
of colours and shapes that make it a visual utopia for artists and photographers.
Game species found in the
reserve include gemsbok, mountain and plains zebra, springbok, red
bat-eared fox, spotted hyena, Cape
fox and African wildcats. The more rocky areas are inhabited by kudu,
klipspringer, baboon and leopard, while the dunes harbour a rich and
diverse micro-fauna. Over a hundred species of birds have been recorded.
The main objective of NamibRand Nature Reserve
is to conserve this beautiful land, and to invite nature lovers from
all over the world to share in
this dream. Every guest staying at Wolwedans contributes directly towards
the conservation of NamibRand, as a fixed percentage of the revenue flows
towards conservation. In the long run, such levies will make the reserve
self-sustainable. However, income from tourism will always be limited,
because right from the outset, the number of guests
this wilderness paradise can and should accommodate has been restricted.
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