The entire area lies just west of the Great Namibian Escarpment, a feature formed by the uplift of the entire southern African continent about 120 million years ago. In the north, southeast and in other small areas in the centre of the reserve, lavas of the Sinclair Barby Volcanics (1265 million years old) outcrop occur. These are acid (silica rich) and basic (silica poor) rocks inter-bedded with sediment that have been highly deformed deep within the crust and are now exposed by erosion. In the extreme north, horizontal layers of non-deformed Nama (aged about 650 million years) sediments form classic tabletop horizontal mountains. Weathering features in the exposed rock areas are plentiful to see, and are largely due to the high variation in temperatures during the day.
The Namib Sand Sea is characterized by a twisting line of south to north dunes caused by a funnel effect of the strong south winds between the high mountains. Large north-south trending mountains, with isolated inselberg hills are interspersed with flat gravel covered plains and in the west the sand dunes of the Namib Desert.
The highest point is the southern end of the Nubib Mountains at 1979m above sea level. The lowest is the east to west trending valley across the Sossusvlei Mountain Lodge area at just below 900m above sea level. Occasional summer thunderstorms occur, resulting in limited run off in otherwise dry gullies. The parched land usually quickly absorbs the run off and no major rivers occur.
NamibRand is dominated by the granite of the Nubib Mountains forming the eastern boundary, and by the shifting sand dunes of the desert in the west.