The Petrified forest is located about 40 km west of Khorixas. It cost us NAD 280 to enter. We also gave a small tip to the compulsory guide, and to the man in the car park.
We didn’t know really what to expect, but it was actually really interesting. Laying on/in the ground are what look like tree trunks, estimated to be around 260 million years old. The smaller rocks look like logs and firewood, but are hard as rocks. The trees didn’t grow here, no roots have been found. That’s why they think that, after the ice age, the trees drifted from Angola, and landed here after a flood.
Here we were also showed a plant native to the area, the weltwitschia. It only exists on the gravel plains in the northern Namib desert.
The welwitschas have only two long and leathery leaves, which grow from opposite sides of the cork-like stem. Over the years, the leaves are darkened in the sun and torn by the wind into tattered strips. Pores in the leaves trap moisture, and longer leaves actually water the plant’s own roots by channeling droplets onto the surrounding sand.
Weltwitchas have a slow growth rate, and it’s believed that the largest ones (leaves can measure up to 2 m across), may have been growing for up to 2000 years. Most midsized plants plants are less than 1000 years old. The plant’s don’t even flower until they have been growing for at least 20 years. In the last picture the male plant is on the left, and the female on the right.
We saw our first motorcycle today, driving into the Petrified Forest. Gosh, that must be hot and dirty! When we meet another car, on this road quite often, on the others hardly at all, the clouds of dust are so thick it’s like driving through a fog.