Located just 42 kilometres (26 miles) to the west of Khorixas just off to the side of the road one will see a sign directing you to the Petrified Forest. Follow the directions and you will soon find yourself being enthusiastically taken on a guided tour of one of Namibia’s intriguing attractions.
While the Petrified Forest is not a forest by the traditional definition of the word, the area is the location of a number of preserved tree trunks, one of which measures up to 45m in length. The Petrified Forest is situated on what was once an old river channel and consists of a large collection of petrified trees.
The trees, all cone bearing trees such as pine trees, arrived in the area over 260 million years ago and were ‘petrified’ or solidified after being embedded in a thick alluvial sand deposit. As the tree trunks were buried under the sand they were cut off from oxygen and silicic acids began to build up and break the wood particles down replacing them with quartz particles.
Today visitors will be able to view perfect replicas of these 260 million year old tree trunks, with the rings, bark and nodes of the branches perfectly preserved and turned to stone.
While exploring the Petrified Forest visitors will also be able to see fascinating examples of the ancient Welwitschia Mirabilis, a living fossil that can be found growing alongside the tree trunks.
by Katie Edge