Sesriem Canyon

The cleft of Sesriem Canyon deepens to 40 meters.

Sesriem Canyon is a fascinating, deep cleft in the Namib-Naukluft National Park.

Country:
Namibia
Location:
Namib-Naukluft National Park
Length:
1 kilometer (0.6 mile)
Deepest point:
30 meters (100 feet)
Meaning:
Afrikaans for 'six belts'

Introduction

Sesriem Canyon is invisible from even a short distance away. Formed some 2 million years ago as the then mighty Tsauchab River cut its way through the sedimentary rocks, this geological phenomenon is now one of Namibia's most popular tourist attractions. At the foot of the gorge, which plunges down 30 to 40m, are pools that become replenished after good rains. Located on the edge of the Namib Desert, it is easily accessible from Windhoek or Swakopmund.

Lots of caves and strange rock formations have been carved out by the river and, when looking along the sides of the canyon, it is easy to see by the size of the rocks and sediment that have been deposited, the difference between when the area was wetter and the river had a powerful force and when, in years of repeated drought, the river had almost no power at all.

A walk through Sesriem Canyon gives the visitor a quick visual history of the geology of the area. About 15 to 18 million years ago, when the Namib was wetter, layers of sand and gravel were deposited. The ledges are now inhabited by pigeons, raucous pied crows and chattering starlings. But look a little higher and you might see a lanner falcon or the soaring spread of a lappet-faced vulture with a wingspan of 2.6m. An amazing variety of wildlife has adapted to live in this inhospitable place, including lizards that put only 2 feet down at a time, and the black 'toktokkie' beetle, who leans forward to run droplets of morning mist down its body and into its mouth. At night, listen out for the haunting cry of the spotted eagle owl, and the far-off yowling of black-backed jackals.

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