Friday, February 3, 2012

Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve

Euphorbia mauritanica (Melkbos) Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve July 2009

Haworthia pumila Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve July 2009 

Struthio camelus (Ostrich) with Langeberg Mountains in the distance at Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve July 2009

Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve July 2009 

Klein karoo & the Elandsberg Mountains Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve July 2009

In July of 2009 I spent 24 days in the Western Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa (RSA).  As you probably know, July is a winter month in the Southern Hemisphere, corresponding to January in the Northern Hemisphere.  But it is January as you might experience it in southern California.  The Western Cape Province has a Mediterranean climate.  It is dry in summer & rains in winter.  After 6 mostly rainy days in Cape Town, 6 mostly sunny days in the beach town of Hermanus, 6 days of variable weather in the small town of Bredasdorp on the Agulhas Plain, I spent 6 warm & sunny days in Swellendam.

On my 2nd day in Swellendam I visited Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve, following the Rooikat Trail.  From the SA-Venues website: Set in a part of the country known as the arid Robertson Karoo, the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve lies in the Breede River Valley.  Given the name of the nature reserve - Vrolijkheid means happiness - this must have been the site of much gaiety in the past, and it certainly remains the focus of pleasure in the heart of the Little Karoo, where it gives much pleasure to visitors - the beauty of the landscape dominated by succulents, dwarf trees and shrubs like the melkbos. The valley is surrounded by high mountain peaks, often shrouded in mist, which makes hiking, walking or just general rambles through the rugged landscape a favourite pastime for all who come here. A circular hike, known as the Rooikat Trail, meanders up around the Elandsberg Mountains and can take up to eight hours.

From my journal, 7-28-09:  I drove toward McGregor on paved roads for over an hour.  Just outside the town I stopped at Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve.  I hiked for 2 hours through klein karoo.  There was Acacia karoo (Thorn Tree) not more than 8 feet tall, Aloe microstigma at only 2 feet, a few small shrubs, & many succulent plants, mostly groundcovers.  There were many Euphorbia mauritanica (Melkbos) with succulent stems.  It was quite different from fynbos.  The trail went along fairly level ground through a valley in the low Elandsberg Mountains.  It was still cool in the morning.  The sun was veiled by thin clouds.  It was very pleasant.  I startled an Ostrich, which ran off to join 2 others on a nearby hillside.  They watched me intently for a short time, then started grazing.  I wouldn't have thought it exciting to see an Ostrich.  But to come upon 1, unexpectedly, in the wild was wonderful indeed.

1 comment:

MO said...

your photos make me long for summer