The 280 Million Years Old Petrified Forest of Namibia

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petrified forest namibia

Petrified Forest Namibia – 280 million years old pine tree in Damaraland. All the info you need: entrance fee, road, where to sleep and the origins of this fascinating place.

The Petrified Forest of Namibia is a National Monument, a perfect stop if you are coming from or going to the Skeleton Coast. The name could be confusing, it is not a real forest whose trees have turned to stone but the history of the formation of these petrified trunks is perhaps even more fascinating.


How to Visit the Petrified Forest in Namibia

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petrified forest namibia

The petrified forest is located about 40 kilometers from the city of Khorixas, the first capital of Damaraland. The road is quite good but there are parts with a little washboard, we suggest you go with a 4×4 if possible. The parking is covered so your car will be in the shade during your visit.

Along the way before the turn, you will see several unofficial signs indicating the petrified forest. Locals who have petrified logs on their properties will take you to see them in exchange for a small tip. We have only been to the official Petrified Forest so we can’t comment on those but there are several reviews of these other forests on apps like iOverlander that we suggest you download, it is completely free.

The trunks are up to 34 meters long and up to 6 meters in diameter. They are intentionally left as they were found, without excavation or protection from the elements. The climate of the area is very dry and it naturally preserves the forest.

Remember there is a minimum fine of 5000 N$ or 1 year in jail for stealing any of the petrified wood lying on the ground, so think twice before doing something you’ll regret.


Petrified forest Namibia entrance fee

petrified forest namibia

We must also say that being current residents in Malawi the entrance fee to the park is much cheaper for us than for international tourists, so if you really are on a tight budget you might consider visiting one of the alternatives in the area instead.

For SADC (Southern African Development Community) the entry fee is 100N$ (6 USD) and for foreigners is 250N$ (15 USD), a bit steep for such a short tour. The entrance includes a guide that will bring you around the 800 meters path explaining the formation of the forest and also illustrating the plants that live in this environment. You will find some nice specimens of the Welwitschia, the symbol of Namibia, that can be found only here.

The walk takes about 40 minutes and is accessible to everyone in an average fitting condition. If you suffer from the heat, choose the early morning and late afternoon, especially in summer the temperatures can be really high.

At the entrance, there is a shop where you can buy souvenirs and a bar.


The Origin of the Petrified Forest

petrified forest namibia

During the Neoproterozoic, 550 million years ago, the so-called supercontinent of Gondwana formed. This huge land mass included the countries and continents that are in the Southern Hemisphere today: South America, Australia, India, Africa, and Antarctica.

About 160 million years ago Gondwana began to fragment giving rise to the configuration of the continents we know today.

During one of the many ice ages, the Dwyka glaciation of the Carboniferous, about 280 million years ago, a flood of enormous proportions carried these enormous pine tree trunks from Central Africa to Namibia.

The sand and mud that covered these trunks prevented the penetration of air, keeping the wood intact. Over the centuries, wood has been dissolved and replaced by minerals such as quartz.

In the 1940s, two farmers discovered these trunks, which came to light due to soil erosion, and in 1950 the area was declared a National Monument.


Where to Sleep around the Petrified Forest

petrified forest namibia

There are many campsites near the petrified forest. We camped at Hais Ra, one of the most beautiful campsites we slept in Namibia. 150 N $ per person, private ablution or 400 N $ for Tented Camps. There is a bar with cold beer and a swimming pool with a nice view. On request, you can order dinner and breakfast and work is underway for the construction of a common kitchen.


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