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Earliest shuttle from Sossusvlei car park

Leicester, United...
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Earliest shuttle from Sossusvlei car park

Hi,

I don't want to risk the driving the last 5 km from the 2WD car park to the 4WD car park. And I'm also not keen to spend a fortune by staying at Sossus Dune Lodge and taking their guided tour ( 500 N$ per person) to the dunes.

My understanding is that the inner gate opens an hour before sunset so if I stay at Sesriem campsite and drive straight to the 2WD car park without stopping at Dune 45 etc. so I should be able to reach the 2WD car park before sunrise.

Does anyone know when does the first shuttle leave the car park for the Deadvlei and if I take that very first shuttle would it give me enough time to climb Big Daddy and watch the sunrise over Deadvlei ?

I'll leave 30 minutes to climb Big Daddy.

I realise in winter the sun remains low so the light would remain soft and ideal for shooting for probably an hour after sunrise. So I don't need to be on the top right at the crack of dawn but the earlier the better.

Is it possible to join the pre-dawn guided tour from Sossus Dune lodge if you stay at Sesriem camp?

Lastly if I bite the bullet and decide to drive the 4WD car (and then most likely get stuck on the way out) just wondering what happens to the cars which get stuck between the 2 car parks ? I mean who tows them out and do you pay any fees/penalty for that?

Many thanks

Stanley, Falkland...
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1. Re: Earliest shuttle from Sossusvlei car park

I may be wrong, but I thought the gates open around sunrise, so there is no way to get to the far end of the park, never mind on top of Big Daddy for sunrise..

Can you say where you heard about the gate times?

Nashville, Tennessee
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2. Re: Earliest shuttle from Sossusvlei car park

If you rent your car, you can't drive before sunrise anyway....

Leicester, United...
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3. Re: Earliest shuttle from Sossusvlei car park

Thanks guys. I'll now try to outline the source of my info. Of course these are all gathered over internet so may not be true.

1. Cardbaord Box : "As Sesriem Campsite is inside the Namib/Naukluft Park, overnight visitors are allowed access to Sossusvlei 1hr before sunrise. "

Several comments to the same effect in their feedback section although some of it suggest that the advantage may be only 15 minutes.

www.namibian.org/travel/lodging/sesriem.html

2. Namibia Tours safari: "Its secret: you can get into Sossusvlei an hour earlier than anyone else, even those people in the fancy lodges paying ten times as much as you."

Must be reliable as I've seen Danie from this company posting here.

namibia-tours-safaris.com/destinations/namib…

3. Result of my search in this forum from 2009. I really miss Bushkiddo's contribution !!

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g479221-i11917-k…

4. Page 260 from Bradt guide showing Sesriem area map. Hope the link works from Google Book.

This clearly shows the Main Gate with NWR office and the Sesriem Camp site distal to that and another "Campsite Gate" leading to the main road towards the Sossus Dune Lodge. So there are 2 gates.

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6aIj4WMSLFwC&pg=PA259&dq=bradt+guide+sesriem&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1y_xUJLeO5CV0QWGlIDYCQ&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=bradt%20guide%20sesriem&f=false

5. I have looked into travel blogs and several people have claimed that were able to leave the campsite between 5-15 and 5-45.

I'm fully aware of "Don't drive in dark" policy but am happy to take my chances in the pre-dawn light on a tarred road following other vehicles as plenty of others appear to be doing so.

travelblog.org/Africa/…blog-750235.html

travelblog.org/Africa/…blog-525466.html

www.wildlifephotography.nl/sossusvlei/sesriem

The last one is great for keen amateur photographers.

6. This is an excellent site with loads of practical info with recommendation to stay at campsite for early access. I did post a query about shuttle timings but the reply was not very helpful :

www.visitingnamibia.com/sossusvlei.html

No point taking the trouble of going to the car park only to find the first shuttle does not leave before 7 am. But the sunset photos from Dune 45 shouldn' be a problem.

Lastly I have seen some spectacular photos of Dune 47. Where exactly is that?

Dune 47 with climbers :

http://500px.com/photo/11073679

Cheers

Hermanus, South...
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4. Re: Earliest shuttle from Sossusvlei car park

If you camp st Sesriem then you are inside the main gate to the park (The on that you have to go through if you stay at any lodge apart from Sossus Dune Lodge. That gate opens at sunrise.

If you stay at Sesriem you only have the small gate leading to the dunes where you show your permit. (Get that the afternoon before or you will have to wait in a big queue to get it in the morning).

That gate where you show your permit opens roughly an hour before the main gate, before sunrise.

Most people climb Dune 45 as you can get to it in a regular car and it gives you time to get there and climb up it...plus not that hard to climb.

I am pretty sure that the shuttle have to enter the park when the rest of the people do, so they won't be there before sunrise. I may be wrong, but I don't remember seeing them that early!

If you drive down the last 5 kms in the sand and get stuck someone will help pull you out. The important thing is obviously to have your 4x4 engaged, and to keep going at a steady pace. If you stop then you will get stuck.

The sand is harder in the morning while it is still cold, but once it starts to heat up it becomes easier to get stuck.

Gemma Dry - Discover Namibia Safaris

Leicester, United...
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5. Re: Earliest shuttle from Sossusvlei car park

Thanks very much Gemma. Helpful as always.

That makes sense. So the shuttle would probably reach the car park an hour after sunrise. May not be very useful.

I myself will take the shuttle on the way back and ask my wife to drive back as she would get help quicker by acting "damsel in distress" :))

Or maybe time for me to gain some off road 4WD experience in a mud field near me.

Cheers

Baltimore, Maryland
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6. Re: Earliest shuttle from Sossusvlei car park

I know from experience that the gate does not open before sunrise.

Leicester, United...
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7. Re: Earliest shuttle from Sossusvlei car park

@Travelergirl: do you refer to the gate from the Sesriem campsite to the main road to the dunes or to the main entry gate?

Windhoek, Namibia
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8. Re: Earliest shuttle from Sossusvlei car park

We have heard mixed reports recently from guests who stayed at either the Sesriem campsite or Sossus Dune Lodge and drove in by themselves. Sometimes it works as it is supposed to, as per Gemma's reply above when the inner gate opens around 1 hour before the outer gate. And sometimes it doesn't! It seems that it really depends on how the person on the gate is feeling on the day...

It really does pay to buy your permit the day before, although I have also heard that the person on the gate is now just waiving you through and taking your number plate on the way in, and then you are allowed to pay for your permit on the way out again, but I don't know how reliable that is or whether it was a once off situation. It would save a lot of time if it really is a new policy.

The walk from the 2x4 car-park into Sossusvlei is really worth doing, 5km sounds quite far but it really doesn't feel like it, and you can detour off towards Deadvlei and then walk back to Sossusvlei and explore before heading back using the shuttle.

Charlotte ATI Holidays

Hermanus, South...
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9. Re: Earliest shuttle from Sossusvlei car park

Perhaps we have just been lucky this season as I haven't had any reports back from guides not making the dunes for sunrise. Of course it does all come down to the person on the gate at the end of the day!

It would be handy if the waving through then buying permits after came into effect.....but I would still get mine in advance to be on the safe side.

Leicester, United...
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10. Re: Earliest shuttle from Sossusvlei car park

Thanks Charlotte. I have also read similar comments in the blogosphere.

In fact in one of the travelblog links I have given above, the poor backpackers lost patience after waiting for 20 minutes at the campsite gate with no sign of the gate opening and their resourceful driver came up with a bolt cutter with excellent result.

Another thing to add to my carry-on list!!

The idea of hiking is not bad. Perhaps some 4WD driver would have pity on us and give us a ride !!

Is the trail to Big Daddy from the 4WD track signposted ? Or do I just aim for the tallest dune?

I'm not sure why your guests staying at Sossus Dune lodge would have similar problem as according to the maps there is no other gate between Sossus Dune lodge and the main road.

Knowing my luck after all these hassle I would probably encounter the most horrendous fog over Deadvlei !

Thanks