Big Mama Dune in Sossusvlei, Namibia

Big Mama Dune is a star dune situated in the Sossusvlei region of the expansive Namib-Naukluft National Park, part of the ancient Namib Desert.

Sossusvlei has been accumulating sand deposits for millions of years. The sand itself is characterized by a vibrant red hue due to the high iron content that oxidizes and creates this distinct color.
The type of dunes that occur here are called star dunes, due to their shape.
The most significant factor in the shaping of these star dunes is the wind, which transports sand from other areas.

Big Mama Height

Big Mama stands tall at over 200 meters, roughly equivalent to a 60-story building.

While it’s not as tall as Big Daddy’s dune, its impressive height is still a sight to behold. The climb up might be a bit challenging, but the panoramic view from the summit is a reward in itself.

From its peak, you can enjoy a stunning view of the surrounding dunes as well as, the salt and clay pan known as Dead vlei, and the vast expanse of the Namib desert beyond. If you’re lucky, you might spot some local wildlife like oryx, springbok, and ostriches.

The optimal time to visit Big Mama is in the early morning hours. The temperature is more tolerable then, and the rising sun casts a beautiful glow of every shade of orange across the neighbouring dunes.

To visit Big Mama, you’ll need to enter the park at the Sesriem entrance gate and pay the Naukluft Park entrance fee, then drive approximately 60 km (37 miles) to the main dune area. Remember to pack plenty of water, sun protection, and sturdy footwear. And always adhere to the principle of leaving no trace of your visit.

Climbing Big Mama Dune

…is an exhilarating experience…here’s some handy tips:


  1. Hydrate adequately both in advance and during the climb.
  2. Dress in light, breathable clothing, a hat, and sunglasses. Apply sunscreen and wear closed shoes or socks.
  3. Start your climb early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the temperature is cooler.

The Climb:

  1. Choose your path. You can ascend directly up the ridge, or zigzag to make the climb less steep.
  2. Maintain a comfortable pace. The shifting sand can make the climb more challenging.
  3. Don’t hesitate to take breaks if needed. Use this time to appreciate the view!
  4. Upon reaching the summit, take a moment to relish the breathtaking view.

The Descent:

  1. You can either return the way you came or, for a more thrilling descent, run or slide down the steep face of the dune. Either way, don’t forget the photo from the top!
  2. Exercise caution. The sand can be slippery, making it easy to lose your footing.

Remember, climbing Big Mama is about the journey as much as the destination. Enjoy the unique landscape and respect the natural environment.