SOUTH AFRICA DIGGING DEEPER IN THE CEDERBERG
us. “Welcome to the Imax.” Christiaan announces, smiling. I pause for a minute to take it in. The scale of the place is impressive. The rock above me extends up at least 10 metres, until it curves to a point straight above my head. At my feet are a jumble of loose stones, mixed with a yellow-grey sand. But it is the blotches of colour on the smooth stone in between that catch my eye. We walk closer to one of these clusters of burnt-red smudges and Christiaan points to what are clearly human shapes. They are elongated and barely more than stick figures, but undeniably human. “These paintings depict people and animals engaged in everyday activities. Look closely and you will see that the painter has made a determined effort to be very clear about each person’s gender – this is a key element in the rock art found here.” I lean closer and see that some of the figures a have thick smudge of paint extending horizontally
forwards from their groin. Others have pronounced semicircles attached to their chests and at the top of their legs, at the rear. The symbolism could not be plainer, even if anatomical accuracy clearly wasn’t a priority. It is a mesmerising place. Looking down, I see white, powdery droppings that remind me of hyenas. But Christiaan notices them too and says, “Those are from a cape leopard.” These rare cats are almost impossible to see. Smaller than normal leopards and even more elusive, they are so rare that even signs of them are unusual. I’m already in awe with this remarkable place, but news of this new resident adds another layer of magic to the already surreal feel.
SOUTH AFRICA: WEST CAPE EXPLORER
14 days from £2,795 pp including flights.
STEPPESTRAVEL.COM/ Autumn 2017 STEPPES TRAVELLER | 47
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