For most travelers and visitors to Africa, and in particular, South Africa, the expectation is a ‘safari’ with game drives viewing specimens of the ‘Big Five’. While this is a possibility and easily achieved on the scale of any budget, it does neglect the other areas of magnificent splendour that abound in South Africa.
One of my personal favorites is the diverse geology from the oldest rocks in the world at Komatipoort to the spectacular flat topped mountains in the Karoo and fossil dunes in the Garden Route.
The coastline between Wilderness and Knysna boasts a unique geology with a series of parallel fossil dunes punctuated with five coastal lakes around the village of Sedgefield.
The best way to experience the dramatic visual wonder of the dunes is to walk along the beach.
Starting from Kleinkrans, the southern dune slope in vegetated for the first 4km walking east before opening up with golden cliffs decorated with galleries of sedimentary layers. Closer to Gericke’s Point, there is a colony of Cape and White Breasted Cormorants perched on narrow ledges.
As long as you have timed your walk to reach Gericke’s Point during the spring low tide, it is an easy route through the gap before heading towards Kingfisher Creek via a Humpback Whale skull which is all that remains after the adult male beached in October 2013.
Eastwards of Myoli beach, the landscape transforms from dune cliffs to a mixture of cliffs and outcrops of fossil dunes that are the eroded remnants of dune cross bedding.
While the fossil beach shelf west of Gericke’s Point exhibits layered terraces, the section through Goukamma Nature Reserve displays more artistic erosion patterns.
Curves, crescents and circles punctuate angular fissures and scalloped buttresses, all clad in varying sheens of green algae.
The highlight is undoubtedly the section between Oysterbeds and Skimmelkrans which has the added benefit of crystal clear rock pools in various oval and circular dimensions.