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Located in Namibia’s Namib-Naukluft National Park, the Sossusvlei region is a salt and clay pan famous for its sand dunes. The dunes range in color from deep orange to bright pink and are some of the largest in the world, occasionally exceeding 1,000 feet. The fascinating colors of the dunes are due to oxidation of the sand’s high iron content. The older dunes are more intensely red, and some of the more stable dunes are partially covered with vegetation.

Underground and ephemeral rivers occasionally flood the pans, creating marshes known as vlei in the Afrikaans language. The other key source of water for Sossusvlei is the dense ocean fogs created when the dry desert air forces the humid ocean air downward. The region has a number of plants and animals adapted for this unique climate, ranging from lizards to rodents to jackals to ostriches. The Namib Desert Beetle is adapted to extract water from the morning fogs via the bumps on its back. During the rare flood season, migrant bird species make temporary homes in the marshes.

As a consequence of its vivid colors and fascinating landscape, Sossusvlei is one of the most photographed places in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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