SOUTH AFRICA DIGGING DEEPER IN THE CEDERBERG
DIGGING DEEPER IN THE CEDERBERG
South Africa BY ROB GARDINER
y guide, Christiaan, stops and gets out of the vehicle. The smell of roiboos leaves, dampened by the recent rain, dances through the air as he strides a few metres to our right. “Look, here.” He says, pointing to the still damp ground. “Do you see this change in the soil?” Peering down, I squint at the earth
– unusual on a safari. But this is not quite like any other safari. Christiaan is not carrying a gun, and no elephant droppings or lion pawprints mark the ground. I am in the Bushmans Kloof Reserve, in the Cederberg Mountains, just inland from South Africa’s Atlantic Coast. Here, wilderness, rock art and rare endemic species provide the thrills, rather than the big game of elsewhere.
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Looking closely, I struggle to see it. But as I allow my eyes to take in the wider area, I notice what Christiaan means. There is a subtle change – the landscape suddenly, but softly shifts from one form to another, darkening slightly. The fynbos vegetation also subtly melts way, to be replaced by something that reminds me more of the Kalahari, “This is where the sandstone of the Cederberg turns to shale. In
essence, here, the Cape Floral Kingdom ends and the Great Karoo begins. You can see how the colour of the rock changes, but also how this affects the vegetation. The plant species present change due to the geology. This, in turn, determines the animal species that thrive.” Christiaan grins, looking up. “Basically, rocks dictate everything.”
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