Sossusvlei is one of the best known areas of the Namib Desert. It is a large flat pan where the Tsauchab River is thwarted in its bid to reach the sea, by a swathe of red dunes. On good rain years, the river still follows this course and for a short while, visitors here will be met by the incongruous sight of a pool of water at the base of some of the world's highest dunes. But for most of the year, this is very much a desert. Huge dunes tower against the cobalt blue of the sky and from the top, views of the wave-like formation of sand extend to the horizon.
Sossusvlei (and Dead Vlei, site of postcard shots of skeletal trees on a salty white bed appear against the red dunes) is a highlight on the tourist route of Namibia. The best time to see the Dunes is at sunrise and sunset, which is when everyone gathers at the gate for the 60km drive to the Dunes. The road is tarred until about 4km before the vlei, from which you will have to walk if you are not in a 4x4. It goes without saying that this is not a "wilderness" experience but, a little like the Ngorongoro Crater, it is spectacular and worth seeing. So long as you are prepared for the fact that you won't be appreciating it on your tod, you will no doubt enjoy the childish fun of climbing the dunes (not a trivial bit of exercise!) and running back down.
Near the gate is the Sesriem Canyon which is also worth a look-see. A surprisingly deep cleft in the desert, it is named for the "ses" or leather thongs on which the early Afrikaaners used to lower their water buckets.
Some lodges have better access to Sossusvlei than others, so if this is on your to-do list, we'll be choosing your accommodation in the area accordingly.