GRT : Day 1, forest and canoe stage along the Touw River. Genius of place, the ultimate biomimicry classroom. As we passed under the railway bridge and drifted between the forest shrouded slopes of the river valley, a sense of tranquility emanated from the lush green canopy.
Beaching the canoes, we found a minute Knysna Dwarf Chameleon which was nearly crushed because of it’s flawless camouflage on the sandy beach. As we ambled to the waterfall, it was the ‘structure’ of the forest that stuck out.
The layers of vegetation, each interdependent on the others, positioned to harvest the maximum light. Buttress roots, towering tree trunks. And back at the rest camp, exquisite March Lillys.
GRT day 2 – Turtle Diaries. A 19km beach walk from Kleinkrans to Myoli beach. As always, the walk was a scenic delight along barren beaches flanked by golden dune cliffs and a lively Indian Ocean.
While I expected to find lots of marine specimens washed up after the recent upwelling, there was surprisingly very little to see.
The highlight however was finding a Loggerhead Turtle hatchling on Swartvlei beach. Here is hoping that in a few years it will return to lay eggs of future generations of turtles.
As always, the row boat crossing of Kingfisher Creek was the ‘adventure’ component of the day.
GRT – Day 3 : Goukamma transit. Beach and dunes. 15km.Today the weather was perfect, rock formations mesmerizing and the surf monstrous. We started off in a shoreline haze that promised to burn off into a still sunny day.
First find was a juvenile Cape Gannet resting on the beach. Next was a first in a decade of conducting our coastal trail, a Moonshell washed up near the fossil footprints.
Then an Osprey searching the surf for fish near Oysterbeds. Finally a message in a bottle. Perfection on foot in the Garden Route.
GRT D4 – birders paradise. Coffee at dawn as we watched an Osprey hunting. The local male Africa Fish-Eagle then landed on the beach and flushed over 1000 Terns from their roost. Later, canoeing, we saw a Giant Kingfisher which brought our trail tally to a full house of 5 Kingfisher species for the region.
On the Bushpig Trail, the Candelabra Lilies are starting to dry out and there were some delicious looking mushrooms.
To finish off we walked past the Fish-Eagle pair roosting 170m away. Now for a fish braai.
GRT D5 – cycle of life. A fitting end to another wonderful five day coastal hike. Last week, the beach between Buffalo Bay and Brenton on Sea had over thirty Hammerhead Sharks wash up due to thermal shock caused by upwelling.
As we walked along the beach today, there were mussels and red bait washed up, while the Kelp Gulls were feasting on the shark carcasses.
Driving back to our point of departure, the true extent of the distance covered in the five days set in and the group felt a sense of accomplishment over and above what they learnt. Unanimously they all decided that I was a ‘kind’ sadist for making them walk further than they were accustomed to.
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