Walking on the famous pans of Sossusvlei can be an otherworldly, intensely photogenic experience. After climbing vast dunes, it can also be a welcome relief from the desert heat, cooler under the shadow of the high dunes that stand sentinel over the valleys. Sossusvlei itself, Nara Vlei and Hidden Vlei are among the pans that you can walk on, usually after climbing a dune and running onto the dried, patterned mud floors of the vleis. Our favourite is Dead Vlei, an expansive pan with the dark skeletons of long dead trees standing out vividly against the gleaming white surface of the pan as it catches the sun.
Photo opportunities here are stunning: just pick your favourite tree and try to make sure no other visitors looking for that award winning shot walk across your view! Deprived of water for most of the year, explaining the presence of the dead trees, these pans can fill up with water during periods of heavy rain, with the shining green-blue waters giving the vleis an even more surreal, alien appearance and the trees seeming to rise out of the waters from the dead. There really are few places on earth where you can enjoy such a stunning, seemingly unlikely natural spectacle, whether there is water in the pans or they are bone dry.