Sossusvlei and Deadvlei Namibia

Sossusvlei & Deadvlei

Deep in the heart of the Namib desert, lies the unique Sossusvlei area. The Sossusvlei is a salt-clay pan surrounded by dunes. Altogether the blue sky, red dunes, and white pans makes a striking photo. Deadvlei is an incredibly photogenic and iconic landscape scene, and many people try to get to the pan as early as possible to get those special photos at sunrise.


Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert


Dead trees simply scorched black in the sun, monuments to their own destruction.

There are several pans in the area, some of which, occasionally receive water and some are now permanently dry due to a change of the river course. Deadvlei is one of the latter. It is by far one of Namibia’s most photographed landmarks.



Dead camel thorn trees stand on an ancient clay bed, like sentinels to a forgotten time, their ashen frames casting shadows across the white dust.


Dead Vlei – Dead Marsh – Too dry in Dead Vlei for the trees to even decompose

A forest frozen in time. Deadvlei close to Sossusvlei, where the desert is in full control of the environment. Deadvlei has claimed to be surrounded by the highest sand dunes in the world.


Tree skeletons are lost in the middle of the Namib Desert, on a clay pan of old river channels.


Shadow casting dead Camelthorn trees in Namib desert

The biggest reason most visitors make the long journey to Sossusvlei, is to visit the stunning and iconic Deadvlei, a collection of skeletal camelthorn trees set in the cracked clay, surrounded by deep orange dunes and all topped off with bright blue skies overhead.

Skeletal camelthorn trees set in the cracked clay


Dead dried out tree scorched black by the sun in the desert

Originally the place was called the Dead Marsh. The Afrikaans word vlei means Marsh in English. It was a marsh filled with water that has, over time, dried out and left a nice white clay pan in its place.

Dry tree trunk


It’s a spooky like feeling, being amongst trees that are long dead, but still talks to you. It’s estimated this happened about 900 years ago.

Camel Thorn Trees grow here when the Tsauchab River would flood after heavy rainfall and form shallow pools of water. Deadvlei was once like Sossusvlei, with the river draining into it nourishing desert life and even trees.

The trees are estimated to be several hundred years old, however they have not decomposed due to the dry climate.

The pan was formed when the Tsauchab River flooded and the abundance of water allowed camel thorn trees to grow. However, the climate changed and the sand dunes encroached on the pan, blocking the river from reaching the area.

The climatic change and the river do not flow anymore, the desert is so harsh that the trees dried out and instead of decomposing they totally dried out. This vlei has long been cut off from the Tsauchab River by a large sand dune. Soon, all the dead trees will be deteriorating to such an extent, that it will no longer be seen.

Check out some more of my photos at 500PX and PhotoPixSA and the Trip Reports and Hiking Trails

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