Petrified Forest of Khorixas – Namibia - Atlas Obscura

Petrified Forest of Khorixas

Hundreds of tree trunks and Welwitschia flowers populate this living fossil haven.  


Around 280 million years ago, a huge river flowed through Gwondana. It carried tree trunks from the north in an enormous flood after an ice age. The trees were covered under thick mud and became petrified over time 

Today, Damaraland is an arid semi-desert, and erosion has revealed petrified tree trunks. The two huge trees are ancient Cordaites, the ancestor of modern firs and spruces.

Petrification is a chemical process that occurs under high pressure. Water and mud prevent the rotting of the wood. Silicic acid dissolves the wood slowly and replaces it with quartz and pyrite crystals. The result is perfectly conserved and completely petrified tree trunks.

The petrified forest is in a semi-desert with interesting flora, fauna, and other living fossils. Also “living fossil” Welwitschia Mirabilis plants are abundant. These can become hundreds of years old and typically grow apart. Except for a 500-year entangled couple of a male and female Welwitschia at this site, known by the locals as “the Namibian Romeo and Juliet”.

Know Before You Go

The Petrified Forest is a Namibian National Monument. It's next to the main gravel road C39 and can be reached by a normal car.

The entry fee is about 250 Namibian dollars per person, which includes a government-paid guide. Also, toilets, refreshments, and a gift shop are present.

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