Hiking the dunes and coastal forest
A hike through coastal forest, where old man’s beard covers the branches and birds play hide and seek, is magic. Add to this the mystery of life these dunefields witnessed centuries ago, and you've got yourself a priceless experience.
My friend Maggie Langlands and I enjoyed this archeological walk at Dune Ridge Country House the other day. The pathway is cut open just wide enough to have a comfortable walk, with bush pig droppings and recently hatched eggs a reminder that we are the visitors, and should only leave our footprints behind.
It is approximately a 2 hour walk, although Maggie showed me how birders would be doing it – stop-stop, so it surely could take some people much longer. Our guide, Henri Maarman is extremely patient and well informed, and doesn’t mind waiting or answering each and every question.
The trees on the route are well marked, but it was the smaller plants and ground covers that caught my eye, as they just have the most amazing little flowers. Once through the forest you get to the first real “uphill” – but the view from the top of the dune is worth it. 360 degrees of beauty!
Henri guided us over the dunes to the huge middens, testimony that we are indeed part of the Coastal Cradle of Mankind. At most middens in our area you find shells and a few bones, and if you are lucky an implement or piece of an implement, but here are pieces of pottery, small pieces of the rock the Khoi used to draw and Henri also showed us a grinding stone – you cannot believe how soft it is. Once you see this, you can understand why these walks are guided, as the protection of the middens is a must.
The view to the north overlooks the Baviaanskloof Mountains, and on a good day you can see the sea to the south – we could only hear it. We I then convinced Henri to take us a bit further in a westerley direction, through a “short section” of thicket - well, we had to bundu bash, crawl, climb and pretend that puff adders are NOT found here… worth all the scratches and bites once we made it to the other side (don’t worry, this is NOT included in the walk you would be signing up for!).
The Dune Ridge Country House is the proud protector of these forest and dune walks. Groups of 6 can book a guided walk with Sarah Jane Swanepoel on 082 500 4922. It is a true privilege to experience this and wonderful that it is still so protected and well cared for. Picnics can be arranged and the cost will depend on the menu you choose.