Blue Hill in the Kouga Mountains is rapidly becoming one of my favourite places on earth. It was great seeing Anja, Alan, Elena, Chris and Elaine again. They were very warm and welcoming. On the first day, the party split up. One group went to the nearby rocky cliffs to hunt for Haworthias and suchlike. Alan loaded the rest of us into the Landcruiser and we drove up to the far south-western corner of the massive Baviaanskloof Reserve. The excitement was intense, when we saw the first Paranomus esterhuyseniae (Near Threatened) and the very scarce ground-hugging Leucadendron sorocephalodes (Near Threatened). We haven’t seen these two, since the early Protea Atlas days in the 90’s. The views were absolutely spectacular. Both the tea bushes Cyclopia intermedia (Declining) and C plicata (Endangered) were there. Alan tells the tale of finding some illegal harvesters up in these mountains, not so long ago. We had a marvellous evening catching up with all the news. We also very much enjoyed meeting an Argentinian volunteer, who is helping Alan with his task of bird-ringing.
The next morning we were up bright and early to walk the Baboon Trail. Bill and I also planned to climb Blue Hill, but managed to miss the track. Instead we climbed the unnamed mountain next to it at a height of 1496m. Here we found Erica flocciflora (Near Threatened) and Leucadendron pubibracteolatum (Near Threatened). There was also more of a small Agathosma with recurved leaves with spines at the tips. We think it may be Agathosma spinosa, but will wait for confirmation of that. All in all, we had a marvellous 2 days. Many thanks to the Lees for their exceptional hospitality. We will be back in Spring.
This weekend we joined the Mountain Club on a trip to Kammanassieberg. The expedition was led by Derek Odendaal, who is doing such a good job of exploring the Southern Cape Mountains. We formed a botanising sub-party, while the “manne” climbed Kammanassieberg. They camped at the nek beween Kammanassieberg and Platberg. They were able to do 2 site sheets for us. Interesting finds were Protea rupicola (Endangered), Protea montana (Vulnerable) and Bobartia paniculata (Rare). We spent the night a bit lower down at a great campsite, which we shared with a herd of curious cows. They were very interested in all our doings. On day 1 we walked east. The most beautiful Nerinas on a clayey slope were a spectacular find. There was an interesting Aspalathus that was new to us and 3 Psoraleas. We will have to wait for these id’s.
On day 2, we took the Drifter up some distance and then walked to Platberg. There was 1 Protea grandiceps (Near Threatened) along the way and we also found a couple of Leucadendron singulare (Vulnerable) plants. A very long-leafed Moraea has us puzzled and there was a very interesting little Phylica. For all the world, it looked like a little Bonzai tree. Phillip, all this adds up to lots of homework, so the site sheets will reach you in the fullness of time. Its ages since I’ve been to Kammanassieberg and it was spectacularly beautiful. This too, we must visit again in the Spring. The Spring list of “must do’s” grows longer and longer.
Last weekend on Hugo Leggatt’s Mountain Club trip, we checked that the jeep track was walkable into Doringrivier from the north. So on Friday, we will go there, via the farm Zebrafontein. We probably won’t reach Leucospermum hamatum (Endangered), but Greg Devine has promised me that we will do an overnighter with the Mountain Club in Spring, when we will have a chance to check them. Many thanks to all of you “grandichaps” for helping us to keep tabs on the Threatened Species in the mountains of the Southern Cape.
Groete en dankie
Outramps CREW Group