Monday, 24 October 2011

Circles in the Forest Part2

The Outeniqua forest is a special place. The cool forest floor begged me to kick off my shoes.

Every tree is an ecosystem! So many organisms living together, helping one another with one common goal. This tree grew around and over the ant hill. Or was the tree there first? Impossible to tell its a chicken or egg kind of a situation I suppose! :)

The path is very well maintained, with slippery when wet warnings and small bridges to help you cross difficult terrain.

The water here is cool, fresh and o so sweet.

The giant mountain ferns cover the ground like a green carpet. Somewhere in this forest wild elephants are eating the tops of these ferns. (one of their favourite kinds of food.) In the deep-green depths of the Knysna forest lives the last, tiny remnant of the once great herds of Cape bush elephant. Of the original group just one female remains, though three elephants where recently brought in from the Kruger National park.

These big grey ghosts are seldom seen. We did see relatively fresh elephant dung. It was kind of scary to think that we might round the next corner and find a HUGE African elephant blocking our way.

 In 1876 it was estimated that between 400 and 500 giants roamed the forests of Knysna. The numbers declined partly due to poaching and ivory smuggling. In 1908 when the elephants were declared royal game only 20 were counted.

There are many ancient trees in this forest! Fathers, Grandfathers and Great Grandfathers. The bark of the Podocarpus Africana is rugged and home to many creatures. :)

You can only guess at their age and at what they have 'seen' in their lifetime.
After a quick foto session with another giant we continued the hike.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Circles in the Forest

Circles in the forest is the official name for this hike. It is named after a novel about the Knysna forest written by Dalene Matthee. (one of the true great Afrikaans novels.) It is also called the old woodcutters trail.
Distance:  9km
Duration:  3hours
Difficulty:  Easy
Permits:  A permit can be obtained at the boom when you enter the forest. The cost is R17 for an adult. If the boom is unmanned a self issue permit applies.
The hike starts at the grave of Dalene Matthee.
'...between man and the forest lies but a thin veil. Like a cobweb. Like an invisible mist through which you can see if you can open your eyes wide enough..."

Over the gravestone a huge Kalander casts its shadow. Its branches protecting thes guardian of the forest. (Kalander a.k.a Outeniqua Yellowood/ Podokarpus Africana.)

" a mighty king it stood towering above the white alder and mountain saffron, stinkwood, assegaai and hard pear. As if God had planted it long before the others. Its giant root anchored it to the ground like giant arms..."

I almost cannot believe that this tree has stood in this exact spot for 880 years!!! Here I can touch history, who else over they years has sat it its shade, how many people have gazed up at the sky through its leafy branches?

Before we started on our hike we made a quick visit to the facilities. :)

After that it was time to start the hike...
You almost feel like you have to enter this forest on tip-toe. As a child I have read all Dalene's stories about this place and its people. Now that I am here as a adult I feel almost part of it in some special way.
Soon after we went through the gates we turned off the access road and entered the forest.
The branches closed in on us and the shadowy coldness of the forest canopy embraced us. The soil underneath our feet felt soft and fertile. The air smelled brand new, not like our city air. Not used and discarded. Not contaminated and abused by human carelessness. This air was fresh straight from the photosynthesis factory surrounding us.

There were so many things to look at! I am sure we did not even see a third of what was there.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Perfect Endings...

Our first day was rapidly drawing to a close. After our exploration of the beautifull Western Head we had a quick and scenic lunch at the Western Head Restaurant. :) 
On our way back to Teniqua we took a detour to the old Belvidere Church, also known as the Holy Trinity Church.

Affectionately known simply as the Belvidere Church, it was built largely as a result of the love affair between Thomas Henry Duthie, and his wife, Caroline. 

The tiny Belvidere Church - it seats no more than about 20 people, and its nave is only 5.3 metres (17’6”) wide - was modeled on the Norman churches of the 11th and 12 Centuries, and is built of locally mined sandstone and locally felled timbers (look out for the stinkwood beams and ceilings). Its foundation stone was laid on 15 October, 1851, and it was consecrated on the 5th of October, 1855

After a short visit we got back into the car and headed towards Brendton on Sea.  Brenton-on-sea is a small seaside village due west of Knysna. It is popular with holiday makers, fishermen and paragliding enthusiasts.

We arrived back at our little log cabin high up in the trees just in time to enjoy the sunset... and then we shared a grass of red to end a perfect day. :)

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Saul Food Part3

The lower 'walk' along the eastern head provides a slightly different view point of the area. Closer to the water te ocean smells are pungent and the soft sea spray tickles your cheak everytime a wave brakes over the the nearby rocks.

In the distance we spot a 'lighthouse'. The problem with passing your ship through the Heads are that you only have about a 60m wide channel. Closer to shore sharp reefs will rip your hull to shreads should you venture outside of the recommended path.

The once again well maintained path hugs the coast.

On the far-side we could see people walking on the Western Head. We debated on how exactly we will get there. We tried to drive there, but we could find no roads. Later I asked some of the locals and the only way to reach Featherbed Nature Reserve ( A private reserve covering the whole of the Western Head) is by Ferry Boat. We could however take some pictures from our side... :)

During our next visit we will definatelly board that ferry and explore the wonders the Werstern Head has to offer.  Our route on the Eastern Head was pretty spectacular too. We found a nice bench to relax for a moment and enjoyed the view.

Around the next corner we came to a fork in the road... we could either crawl through the cave and get our sunday bests soiled; or we could creap around the boulders close to shore and end up wet!


The power of the ocean is awe-inspiring!