While we were staying at the gorgeous Fossil Ridge eco-lodge in the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve near Oudtshoorn recently we were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the new Kannaland 4x4 route before it opened to the public at the beginning of November.
The trail was 32km long and highly recommended for 4x4 drivers with a short attention span. Why? Because it chopped and changed from dry scrubland to lush thicket, from steep passes to layers of far-off mountains, never giving us a chance to be bored. Best of all, it passed through a huge wilderness area where signs of human habitation were almost non-existent.
‘Researchers have discovered that these bushes need a minimum of 300ml of summer rain to germinate. This area only gets around 100ml, so they went to the Cango Caves and looked at the stalactites and stalagmites to determine when last the area got as much as 300ml,’ he said.
The answer was 12 000 years ago so the astonishing guarrie bushes here in the Klein Karoo are at least that old. Of course, the foliage we saw wasn’t that old, but the root system is – if you cut or break the branches off it just sprouts again.
Tom was out walking in the reserve when he found a plant he hadn’t seen before. He checked with botanists who were very excited because they thought it was previously undocumented by science. He’s been going back every few weeks to check if the plants have flowered; that will be the acid test of whether or not it really is a new species. If it is, wouldn't it be nice if it were named after Madiba?
There’s a shorter 20km version if you don’t have much time, or you can even do it on your mountain bike if you’re skilled in the saddle.
To book a stay at Gamkaberg, call Cape Nature on 0861-227362 or 021-4830190.
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