Oranges, dragonflies, bubbling brooks, rugged mountains
Continuing the blog post on my adventure last week when we visited the Kouga Dam followed by breakfast at Padlangs in Patensie. Just a reminder to those readers living in the Kouga region, considering the hot weather we are experiencing, the lack of rain and a long dry winter ahead of us saving water must remain a number one priority. The dam is just 48% full and restrictions remain in place for we certainly do not want to see a repeat of last winter when the situation became critical particularly in the Hankey / Patensie district where they were limited to water for only a few hours a day.
Breakfast at Padlangs is a pleasant affair sitting in the garden with birds chirping and fluttering around you but a warning if you are a coffee lover, rather order the fresh orange juice. Leaving Padlangs we headed for the real purpose of our adventure, a visit to Baviaanskloof.
I had read a little about the Baviaanskloof before embarking on this adventure and had it penciled near the top of my bucket list so I certainly felt a little excitement now that I was about to visit what forms part of one of South Africa’s largest protected wilderness areas. Many readers familiar with the region will know and have probably visited the reserve but for those who haven’t, the area of the total reserve covers some 1.2miliion acres, that is around 2.5 million rugby fields! It forms part of the Cape Floristic Reserve that was declared a World Heritage Site in 2004.
The kloof or ‘Valley of the Baboons’ lies between two mountain ranges, the Baviaans and Kouga with the road, or more accurately the pass, running the length of the reserve some 200 kilometres east to west. A rather long drive to traverse the entire length in a day for most of the journey one can barely exceed 20kph. Our trip thus was planned only to cover a part of the pass and return home the way we came.
My blog on Friday was entitled “use a tour guide when sightseeing” and if you are planning to go into the Baviaanskloof and have never done the trip before, I truly recommend that your first trip be with someone who knows some of the facts and history. Even if you have your own 4×4 vehicle it is probably best you go with someone who knows the road, the conditions and some the history and environment.
It was a really hot day and a long drive to get into the reserve but our guide Shaun, really kept the trip interesting with snippets of information about the history of the reserve and the road that runs the length. Travelling past the acres and acres of orange orchards he explained how many different types of orange have been created so as to extend the picking season from a couple of months in the past to what is now a nine month season. One can only imagine the billions of oranges that are harvested and exported to international markets annually. On my return home I decided to look up just how many different oranges are actually grown in the region and found it to be in the region of around 25 or so. (http://www.patensiecitrus.co.za/en/products/harvestcalendar )
As mentioned in Fridays post the some six of the seven biomes found in South Africa exist in this area and nowhere is it more noticeable once you have passed through the entrance to the reserve. The vegetation changes constantly, one minute you are travelling through almost sub-tropical bush with inviting little streams bubbling through the green undergrowth and the next minute through stark Nama Karoo then just as suddenly into fields of fynbos. During one of our times next to a small stream Shaun asked the question of when last we had seen a dragonfly. Think about it, when did you last see a dragonfly? They used common round water but one hardly ever sees them anymore but we saw some beautiful ones dipping and rising around the streams.
And so the climb began, higher and higher and then even higher. Stopping off for a pee break atop the mountains, the view was majestic with mountains and valleys stretching seemingly forever whichever way one looked. Shaun took us on a walk down a path to show us the site of what was an early form of a zip line set up by farmers in the area to transfer goods and supplies across the valley. The one inch cable is still there to be seen in surprisingly good condition. Unfortunately I am unable to walk but short distances so never made it to the actual end point where it was set up but the ingenuity of the farmers brings to mind the phrase “’n boer maak plan”.
Sitting there atop the mountain with the vlews across mountains and valleys for as far as one could see I was almost tempted to burst in song with that 70’s Carpenters hit “I’m sitting on top of the world looking down on creation”.
More on the adventure later in the week …