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SESRIEM CANYON NAMIBIA. A geological phenomena. 2 million years ago the flow rate of the Tsauchab River carved the Sesriem Canyon from the sedimentary rocks.


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Sesriem Canyon Namibia - a geological phenomena

2 million years ago the mighty Tsauchab River carved into the sedimentary rocks.



Sesriem Canyon and Sossusvlei are two of the most popular attractions on Namibia's Southern Tourist Trail. They are far from the nearest town, so you should stock up with provisions before setting off down the long dusty road. At the Sesriem gate there is a lodge, and inside the gate Namibia Wildlife Resorts operates the camp. There are 20 walled and shaded camp areas with water points, but no power. There is a small shop with limited supplies, a fuel station, tire puncture repair capabilities and a limited selection of tires. For traveling on gravel roads in Namibia I strongly recommend you carry 2 spare wheels. There are several good lodges, tented lodges and camp sites outside of the park.


General Location of Sesriem and Sossusvlei
Sesriem is the entrance point to the Western Section of the Namib Naukluft Park. Sossuvlei lays some 60km west of the gate.


Sesriem Six-What ?

It's about 4.5km drive from the camp-site to the parking area for the Sesriem Canyon. Even

Hardap Region
2442'S - 1520'E
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during the dry season there are water pools in certain areas of the canyon. In previous times these provided an important water source for local inhabitants and for travellers. Early transport drivers would make the detour to the canyon to water their horses and oxen. The animals could not access the water pools at the bottom of the canyon, so their drinking water had to be raised in buckets. The leather thongs used to in-span the draught animals were usually cut from gemsbok (Oryx) hide and were called in Afrikaans a 'riem'. As six of these thongs had to be tied together in order to make a 'rope' long enough to draw the water bucket the place was named Sesriem


Sesriem Canyon only 4.5km from the entrance gate

This way

Sesriem Gate Entrance to the Naukluft Park

The Sesriem Gate to the Naukluft Park

Sesriem Shaded camping areas

Shaded camp sites

Sesriem Camp pool

Cool pool


There is a section of the Sesriem Canyon where the river carved its main path underground through the sedimentary layers. The roof eventually eroded through, but the distance between the two canyon sides is only about 3 meters, so be warned. On arrival at the canyon there is a car parking area and you will see the footpath leading down into the Sesriem Canyon. There is an amount of loose material on the path, so you need to take care.

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Seriem Canyon narrow section of canyon +- 3m

Only 3m across in areas

Seriem Canyon looking east

Wider sections of the canyon.

Sesriem Canyon View From Floor

The canyon floor with pools


How Sesriem Canyon Was Formed:

The initial formation of the canyon began about 30 million years ago. Much of Namibia was buried by desert sands up to 200meters deep which later formed the Tsondab Sandstone Sequence. A Climate change then brought semi-arid conditions. Rivers were formed that ran from the massive escarpment of the Naukluft and Zaris Mountains to the east. Following primordial deluges large amounts of sand, boulder debris and dissolved limestone were carried down from the highlands and deposited on the desert floor. In times of a lower flow rate of the river, layers of sand were deposited. When the river experienced stronger flow rates small boulders, dissolved lime and limestone debris were transported and deposited over the sand layer.


About 2 million years ago the coming of an ice age in the northern hemisphere lead to a drop in the sea level. Following this the subsequent increased flow rate of the Tsauchab River began to cut its way deep through the conglomerates and sandstone beds of the Sesriem Canyon area thus forming the canyon.


While walking through the Sesriem Canyon you can easily see the thick and distinctive layers of sedimentary rock and conglomerates. You will hear the constant cooing of doves that nest in the crevices of the canyon walls and see a variety of trees and plants in the canyon bed. The pool water is a bit muddy, but when temperatures are 40c plus !


Sesriem Canyon view from floor

Canyon floor

Sesriem Canyon erosion shaping of the canyon walls

Strange shapes

Sesriem Canyon Layers of sedimentary rocks can be clearly seen

Sedimentary layers

Sesriem Canyon Lourens and Keith cooling-down.

My mate and I enjoying a cool dip


Acknowledgements and further reading:  G1, G2, T2, T3, P1

Sesriem lays within a National Park area, so there are entrance fees payable to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. The accommodation and facilities at A-Ais are managed and operated by Namibia Wildlife Resorts

Local Area Attractions & Articles of Associated Interest:



Sesriem Canyon Sossusvlei Duwisib Castle   Entry Fees Payable  Map Directions

Of Interest: The Tsauchab River which formed the Sesriem Canyon used to run into the sea at Meob Bay.

  Distances from Sesriem : (km / miles)


Goageb Keetmanshoop Sossusvlei Swakopmund Windhoek
434 / 270 471 / 293 517 / 321 62 / 39 297 / 185 319/ 198
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