A camel-thorn oasis amid towering red sands
by Marita van Rooyen
With the majestic Naukluft Mountains in the east, the towering red dunes of Sossusvlei in the west, and the Sesriem Canyon in the south, Sesriem Campsite is surrounded by some of the country’s most spectacular tourist attractions.
To add to its character, the name Sesriem holds an interesting historical tale, having been named by an early pioneer who tied six lengths of rawhide thongs (rieme) together to draw water from the pools in the canyon. A dry, desolate landscape where temperatures vary between minus and 48 degrees Celsius, it is a rugged destination, not for the faint-hearted or those prone to heat exhaustion. But, if you have an adventurous spirit and a proper tent in the boot of your car, you barely need anything else.
Being the only campsite in the area that allows visitors to sleep inside the Namib-Naukluft Park, the Sesriem Campsite holds a special spot. As the proverbial oasis in the desert, centuries-old Acacia erioloba trees provide a lush green setting amongst the soft sands. Each of the 29 campsites is located under a camel–thorn tree, and includes a braai area and tap, camped off with a circle of bricks to ensure privacy and exclusivity. Here nature is the biggest attraction, with the cry of the jackal being the only other sound amid the whispers of the desert.
But fear not! It’s not all about roughing it out in the bundu. A cement dam almost as old as the surroundings has been converted into a bar, under thatch, with a view of the dunes. Ice-cold beer is served with homemade food – ranging from hot dogs to T-bones. Freshly brewed coffee is available from as early as 6:30, and red wine is served until the last guests stumble off to search for their tents. And when it’s really hot, a large swimming pool offers a proper cool-down.
Sossusvlei is situated some 65 km from Sesriem down a tarred road until the parking terrain situated about 5 km from the vlei. The ghost-like Dead Vlei – a must for keen photographers – can also be visited from here. Says Francois Snyders, area manager for Sesriem, “Staying here is like spending a night in your own desert under your own tree and dreaming how to change your life to have more time available to repeat the exercise!”
Francois explains that from where the tarred road comes to an end at the parking terrain, only 4×4 vehicles- may continue further along the sandy dune stretch to view Dead Vlei (about 1 km further) and Sossusvlei (5 km). “Or alternatively, take an NWR shuttle from here. You will be driven by a guide and will visit the real dunes. Of course, you can also choose to do a walking trail with a ‘walking library’ (guide), who will spend his time with you until all your questions are answered. Or until your brain has become over-saturated with information!”
Sesriem Campsite belongs to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and is managed by Namibia Wildlife Resorts. Sesriem also has a filling station that caters for tyre repairs and minor mechanical repairs, a convenience shop, and a clinic.
This article was made possible by Cymot Namibia
This article appeared in the Dec ‘11/ Jan ‘12 edition of Travel News Namibia.