The Petrified Forest is an area of open veld scattered with petrified tree trunks up to 34m long and 6m in circumference, which are estimated to be around 260 million years old. The original trees belonged to an ancient group of cone-bearing plants that are known as Gymnospermae, which includes such modern plants as conifers, cycads and welwitschias.
Southeast of Twyfelfontein rises a barren 12km-long volcanic ridge, at the foot of which lies the hill known as Burnt Mountain, an expanse of volcanic clinker that appears to have been literally exposed to fire. Virtually nothing grows in this eerie panorama of desolation. Burnt Mountain lies beside the D3254, 3km south of the Twyfelfontein turn-off.
Most dating back at least 6000 years to the early Stone Age, Twyfelfontein’s rock engravings were probably the work of ancient San hunters, and were made by cutting through the hard patina covering the local sandstone. In time, this skin reformed over the engravings, protecting them from erosion. From colour differentiation and weathering, researchers have identified at least six distinct phases but some are clearly the work of copycat artists and are thought to date from the 19th century.
Over the road from Burnt Mountain, you can follow an obvious path into a small gorge that contains a 100m stretch of unusual 4m-high dolerite (coarse-grained basalt) columns known as the Organ Pipes Wondergat
Wondergat is an enormous sinkhole with daunting views into the subterranean world. Turn west off the D3254, 4km north of the D2612 junction. It’s about 500m further on to Wondergat