Request To Visitors: "do Not Touch Dead Trees In Dead Vlei".

20 Dec 2022

Outrage on social media: A so-called influencer poses on one of the dead camel thorn trees in Dead Vlei near Sossusvlei. And proudly posts it on Instagram. Not for long, though. The "shitstorm" of comments is so intense that he first deletes the photo and then his account.

That was last February and March. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism explained that this kind of behaviour is punishable by law. Dead Vlei is located in the Namib-Naukluft Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nevertheless, photos of visitors hanging from tree branches or sitting on trunks continued to make the rounds in the following months.

After a long debate within the travel industry, it was decided to put up information boards at strategic points at Dead Vlei and Sossusvlei. At the same time, park authority staff are to increase their patrols.

Signs at Dead Vlei and Sossusvlei

Sign at the entrance to Dead Vlei asking to refrain from climbing the dead trees.
Photos: Kenneth Nependa (ETEA) / Screenshot of an Instagram post from February 2022.

A few days ago, they erected the frames and installed the notice boards. The plaque at the entrance to Dead Vlei includes a request not to touch the dead trees, thus preserving them for future visitors. The camel thorn trees have dried up centuries ago after a dune cut off the valley from the occasional inflow of water. The ban on drones, which applies to all Namibian national parks, is also pointed out.

The design and printing of the signs are the result of a joint effort by the Ministry, the Emerging Tourism Enterprises Association (ETEA), the Tourism Supporting Conservation Trust (TOSCO) and the Tourist Guides' Association of Namibia (TAN). It was coordinated by Kenneth Nependa of tour operator Sandwich Dune Tours and Safaris. Nependa has been chairperson of the ETEA since July.

Please do not touch dead trees: One of the new signs for visitors at Dead Vlei and Sossusvlei. Photo: Kenneth Nependa (ETEA)

Please do not touch dead trees: One of the new signs for visitors at Dead Vlei and Sossusvlei.
Photo: Kenneth Nependa (ETEA)


The author of this article is Sven-Eric Stender. Originally from Hamburg he has been working as a journalist since 1986. He has lived in Windhoek since 1998 and specialises in the topics of travel, nature, people and history of Namibia. For questions or suggestions, he can be reached at

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