There's three distinct layers of natural world here (like a parfait), each enhancing and supporting the other to make the perfect whole.This means, a heap of wildlife to see while the day lasts...
|The Outeniqua Mountains|
Hidden away in this mountain wilderness are other realms of nature. First off, the terrain is very different to the fairly flat savannah we're used to. Looking out over the lovely blue-green mountains at the start of the journey couldn't begin to prepare us for the reality. These deep valleys and open hillsides are as different as it gets but, technically they're one and the same place. In this landscape, unfamiliar is part of the lure and part of the problem; to really *see* the main attractions means lacing up the hiking boots and saddling up *shanks pony*.
Down in the forested valleys; patches of indigenous bush and trees are home to Cape leopard, Chacma Baboons, Bushbuck, Blue duiker, Cape Grysbuck and Bush pig, along with reptiles, small mammals and hundreds of bird species.These natural woodlands with their peaty, earthy odor, also provide shelter for the famous, elusive, mythical elephants of the Knysna Forests.
There’s not much light and heat getting through into these valleys and they stay damp, moist, and fertile. The water and mud we had come through, will take several days to dry out, whereas, up here on the hillsides, the tracks are already dusty after a few short hours of sun.
|Orange-Breasted Sunbird on Pincushion Protea|
Many of these birds and insects are important and specific pollinators for the fynbos, such as the Mountain Pride butterfly which only visits red flowers and pollinates 15 different species.
|Mountain Pride Butterfly|
Astonishing! Does *red*have a specific smell? How does the butterfly know if a flower’s red – they can’t be colour blind…Did you know butterflies are supposed to have the broadest visual range of any form of wildlife? I didn’t…
Here at the higher altitudes, Cape Genet and Cape Eagle Owl join the Baboons, Cape Leopard, Common Duiker, Imbabala (Xhosa name for Bushbuck), Cape Grysbok and Blue Duiker. The Elephants and Bush pig stay in the forests as they prefer cover. So no big five, (only leopard) to get in the way of a good ramble and after breakfast, we started out with the river our goal; a few hundred meters down a steep path, off the edge of the garden.
|The Fountain Flows in Here|
You may have noticed I had some trouble with Blogger yesterday (or maybe it's me?), that's why this is late...sorry about that!
Next...More of the trek and out at night!