Garden Route Coastal day walk – Arch Rock and the Matjes Rivier shell midden.

Some of the ‘younger’ geological formations contain hominid footprints dating 90,000 years.

The Garden Route coastline between Witsand and Nature’s Valley has a rich history of early hominids with records extending an estimated 164,000 years back. Within these incredible archeological records are the earliest recognised art in the world using ochre dating back from 72,000 years in the Blombos Cave, as well as three sets of hominid footprints dating from approximately 90,000 years ago.

The Matjes Rivier shell midden is approximately 10m deep over 800m2

Keurbooms Strand east of Plettenberg Bay has a distinctive archeological site, one that has a shell midden approximately 10m deep. While there are other middens as thick, none were formed in as short as time period as the Matjes Rivier shell midden, which was formed in the comparatively rapid time frame of 12,000 years.

Crossing back over the Matjes Rivier mouth.

The site, first excavated in 1928, is located in a rock overhang on the western side of the Matjes Rivier and overlooks the popular Arches Rock formation.

The geology along this section of coastline is impressive.

The easiest access to the midden is from the shoreline on the way to Arch Rock which starts on the public boardwalk from the entrance of Enrico’s Restaurant and heads eastwards along the beach.

The smaller arch west of the river mouth.

As you approach the Matjes Rivier mouth it becomes rocky. There is either a narrow gap in the rock or a small Arch through which you can walk if the tide is high.

Arch Rock with the distinctive hole above it.

You then cross the river mouth and reach the arch after approximately 250m.

To visit the midden site, as you return from the arch look up the slope on the western side of the river mouth and locate the start of a trail that heads into the coastal thicket.

A birdseye view of the shoreline from the contour path.

Looking back towards Arch Rock from the contour path.

An alternative route back to the boardwalk after visiting the midden site is to follow the contour path through the thicket which eventually descends to the beach via some stairs and a rope down the final rocky section.

The final rope descent to the beach.

#StrandloperProject #GardenRoute #archeology

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