Deadvlei is a white clay pan located near the more famous salt pan of Sossusvlei, inside the Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia. Close to Sossusvlei, Deadvlei is a clay pan characterized by dark, dead camel thorn trees contrasted against the white pan floor. Also written DeadVlei or Dead Vlei, its name means “dead marsh”. The pan also is referred to as “Dooie Vlei” which is the fully Afrikaans name
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 trees are estimated to be approximately 900 years old, however they have not decomposed due to the dry climate.
Deadvlei is a paradise for photographers as the contrast between the pitch-black trees and bleached-white pans, and the rusty-red dunes and deep blue sky make for incredible images.
About the Namib Naukluft Park
This conservation area within the oldest desert worldwide, the Namib, is situated along the Atlantic coast, covers an area of nearly 50,000 km² and is the largest protected area in the country. The park was formed by merging several regions (Namib, Naukluft, Sossusvlei/Sesriem, and Sandwich Harbour). The present size of the park has been proclaimed in 1979. Only a small part of the park is accessible for visitors: the Naukluft Mountains, the Sossusvlei as well as some parts of the Kuiseb River. The huge protected area is about 500 km long and between 100 and 150 km wide.
At the edge of the Dead Vlei one can climb the “Big Daddy“ also called the “Crazy Dune“ which is assumed to be the highest sand dune worldwide. It is advisable to arrive in early morning hours when attempting to climb the dune as it takes 1.5 to 2 hours and is extremely strenuous. The effort is rewarded with one of the most incredible views! Running down is fun and fast!
The former adventurous road to Sossusvlei has been tarred in 2006. After 45 kilometres the well-known Dune 45 is reached, which stands out due to its height and is a popular photo motif. The best time to take pictures is during the early morning hours and in the late afternoon when the low standing sun crates a contrasting play of shadows.
Five kilometres before reaching the Sossusvlei the tarred road ends. Guests driving a 4×4 and having experience with driving in thick sand can continue to the Vlei. All others have to walk or have to make use of the shuttle service.
Visitors have to leave the park before sunset and are registered when entering the park.
The Sossusvlei experience can be read about in many travel reports, but you have to experience it first handed to understand the beauty of the place.
Dead Vlei at night: Photographs by Wolfgang Steiner
In May 2012 Wolfgang Steiner visited Namibia to take some pictures of landscapes on moonless nights with the night sky as background. He did an amazing job and composed some magical images of the Dead Vlei and the Kalahari. Info-Namibia is allowed to publish some of these pictures by courtesy of Wolfgang Steiner. More information about Wolfgang Steiner can be found on his website