Fynbos Trail Day 2
We awoke in the morning with the soothing sounds of the Atlantic ocean in our ears :-)
Breakfast was served by Sean's lovely wife Michelle. We had a cold breakfast of fruit salad, cereals and Yoghurt as well as a hot breakfast of eggs, bacon and mushrooms. Enough to keep us going for the morning's hike!
Soon we were underway, walking past Stanford’s cove again.
It was a cloudy morning with a whiff of rain in the air.
Our guide for the trip, Billy Robertson was a real treasure trove of information. Here he is explaining the intricacies of whale breaching.
Eventually even I managed to catch one in the act :-)
It was an incredible day for whale watching, At one time we counted 16 whales in the water. We had tea on the rocks with the whales. A female with her calf came nestling right next to us. We could even here some of their calls. It was an amazing experience!
Eventually we had to leave our newfound friends behind. We were on our way to the famous Klipgat cave. The De Kelders coastline consists mainly of limestone. Over the years the elements have carved out numerous caves, of which Klipgat is the biggest and most famous but there are a number of smaller ones like this one…
Or this one.
In fact the town of De Kelders got its name from these Caverns (Kelders in Afrikaans, the local language).
Before long, we reached Klipgat cave. This cave is an archeological treasure, having been inhabited for thousands of years.
Looking at the view it is easy to see why… as most estate agents would say, location, location, location!
Nowadays it is the perfect place for a classic selfie :-)
Next to the cave is a small beach where a fresh water fountain bubbles into the sea, making this a truly perfect home: shelter, water and abundant food from the ocean. The Khoikhoi thrived in the area until they were decimated by a small pox epidemic in 1713.
We headed up the dunes, saying goodbye to the coast...
But not before enjoying the magnificent views across Walker Bay.
We were driven to Siyakhula Organic Farm (‘Growing the Future’) for lunch…
With Salad, happy wife, happy life :-)
And some of Michelle’s homemade bread with preserves, yum yum :-)
The farm, established in 2009, provides skills development in organic agriculture, sustainable animal husbandry and beekeeping to members from the local community, particularly women.
Most of the fresh produce served at the Five Star Grootbos lodge comes from this farm.
Every year the four best students get an opportunity to visit the Eden project in London.
The farm also has free range chickens that supply eggs and manure for the plants.
At Siyakhula a lot of emphasis is placed on sustainability. This has become one of the buzzwords of our time, but there are few places that have managed to embrace it so well as this community.
Our tour of Siyakhula concluded the coastal add-on and we were ready to start the core Fynbos trail!
I’ve been hiking in fynbos for years but the couple of days with Billy Robertson opened up a whole new world for me. We rarely passed a plant without an interesting story, new medical treatment or symbiotic relationship with an insect or bird.
Soon we reached Steynsbos, a magical milkwood forest, about 20 hectares in extend. Many of the trees were felled during the 1930s but fortunately they were able to resprout and have again recovered to maturity.
Deeper in the forest a few trees survived the axes. Some of them might be more than a thousand years old!
I fully expected a hobbit to come running around the corner any minute!
These Tolkeniese forests are most unexpected for this region, which is of course more famous for its fynbos...
They survive where the underground aquifers are shallow enough for their roots to reach, giving them a source of water during the hot and dry summers.
We had to eventually leave the forest but once outside the forest canopy we were treated to an equally magnificent fynbos spectacle.
These pin-cushions created a beautiful bridal arch...
While these ones look exactly like bunches of bananas!
I was amazed by how the whole fynbos ecosystem worked together. It is as if every plant species has its own personal bee / ant / bird / fly / moth that it uses for pollination. And luckily Billy was on hand to explain every special relationship.
We could also enjoy fine views over Walker Bay.
Then we saw the happy sign… we were almost at the Fynbos retreat!
At Fynbos Retreat we were welcomed with a lovely cold Buchu cordial
Fynbos Retreat had comfortable accommodation in two separate buildings. There were limited cell phone reception but a fairly decent Wifi connection.
Dinner was served by our lovely hosts, Mike and his wife Indra.
We had a delicious beef goulash
With salad (Happy wife, happy life) :-)
Vegetable curry and and a barley dish...
And a chocolate brownie for desert :-)
After dinner we could relax at the fire and reflect on an amazing day where we could experience some of the biggest and some of the smallest creatures of our planet…