Sossusvlei

SOSSUSVLEI

The unique and incredible colors of this desert…

Sossusvlei (sometimes spelled Sossus Vlei) is a pot of salt and clay surrounded by tall red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namibia Desert, in Namibia's Namib-Naukluft National Park. The name "Sossusvlei" is often used in an extended meaning to refer to the surrounding area (including other neighbors, such as Deadvlei and other high dunes), which is one of Namibia's main visitor attractions.

The name "Sossusvlei" is of mixed origin and approximately means "swamp with no way out". Vlei is the African word for "swamp", while "sossus" is Nama for "no return" or "dead end". Sossusvlei owes this name to the fact that it is an endorrheic drainage basin (that is, a drainage basin with no outlets) for the Efêmero river.

 

The Sossusvlei area belongs to a wider region of southern Namib with homogeneous characteristics (about 32,000 km²) extending between the Koichab and Kuiseb rivers.

 

This area is characterized by high sand dunes with a vivid pink-to-orange color, an indication of a high concentration of iron in the sand and consequent oxidation processes. The oldest dunes are those with a more intense reddish color. These dunes are among the highest in the world; many of them are over 200 meters, the highest being the highest nicknamed Big Daddy, about 325 meters high, but the highest dune in the Namib desert, Dune 7, is about 388 meters high.

The highest and most stable dunes are partially covered by relatively rich vegetation, which is mainly watered by a series of subterranean and ephemeral rivers that seasonally flood the pots, creating swamps that are known locally as vlei; when dry, these pans look almost white due to the high salt concentration. Another relevant source of water for Sossusvlei is the humidity brought on by the daily morning mists that enter the desert from the Atlantic Ocean.

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