The intrepid trackers and the Big 3 - Day 360
Today, in Diepwalle Forest, north of Knysna, we were the intrepid trackers and the Big 3 is what we surprisingly found today. But what are the Big 3?
Tim read a review on Tripadvisor from a guy who had gone on a forest walk near here “…After the first 200 metres, it becomes clear that you are not going to see anything but trees and a few birds. I can do this at home.” (He is from the UK). Well, he certainly didn’t experience the walk through the forest that we did yesterday.
We were in the Diepwalle Forest, and we like to think of this walk as seeing the Big 3, you may wonder what these big three are. We saw our first within minutes of our walk; a massive yellowwood tree of between 600 to 800 years old called King Edward VII, the total height of 36.9m and the circumference is 7m. Sadly Tim couldn’t give it a hug as it is protected with a wooden fence. What a beauty. We carried on our walk; the track, at first, was a 4x4 road with indigenous trees either side, and delicate little flowers lining the route. We stopped to listen to the birds, and I noticed a small black bird darting from branch to branch. The sunlight caught the colour of its feathers, and then we saw the beautiful iridescent purple sheen. It was a tiny Malachite Sunbird. Stunning, but not one of the big three.
We had heard that there is one elephant in the forest, well we were walking along the White Elephant Trail. At each noise, we stopped to see if we could spot a big grey mass amongst the trees. Suddenly, we noticed something ahead of us. It was a large pile of fresh dung, and around it, we could see the round prints of an elephant.
We carried on our walk, more aware of any noise. We noticed branches that had been ripped off the trees from the strength of the elephant’s trunk and more prints. About another kilometre down the track, we came across another dump which not only looked fresher to our amateur eyes but also had quite a whiff about it. Chris, our guide from Zulu Nyala, would have been proud of us! We did have some peanuts in our bag, but as we had no protection of a jeep, we decided not to take them out at that moment (See Day 314). Apparently, by measuring the circumference of each ball, you can estimate the age of the elephant. Sadly we had no tape measure or statistics, and we didn’t get to see the elephant. We just made do with the poo being the 2nd of the Big 3.
The track turned right and narrowed to a grassy pathway. I must admit that I did pick up some wood and threw it into the forest so that Tim would think there was something there! We carried on descending until we came to a small stream. As we precariously crossed it with help or was it a hindrance, or a rope, we could see a small waterfall in the distance. We decided not to visit this. Time was of the essence, there was a specific Rugby game we wanted to watch on TV later on.
On the other side of the stream, there was a rocky incline to accomplish. We reached the top, breathing quite heavily and the path flattened. We carried on and then suddenly something caught my eye “Oh my God” I screamed, taking a step back into Tim. He felt my arms shake as he saw what I had seen. It was the third of our Big 3 – a whacking great big black and yellow Boomslang snake. These are highly poisonous “victims die from internal and external bleeding”. It raised its front two of its six feet at me and hissed before slivering up a nearby tree. I waited for Tim to pass the tree, take a photo, and then I zoomed passed making sure it was well clear of me. I certainly didn’t want it landing on my head. Let’s just say that the next 4kms were walked carefully and I forgot to look out for the elephant, other things were on my mind!
Well, we definitely wouldn’t have experienced this in Epping Forest. Phew!