A very special day… off the beaten track

Frans Krige led a very lucky group of Friends of Verloren Valei members and almost-members for a day of exploring.

Some members of the group

The majority of field trips on the Reserve take place along the tourist route. This makes perfect sense given the extreme fragility of the environment; in addition, it’s more practical as some people do not have vehicles suitable for proper bundu bashing. But it does mean that there are many parts of Verloren Valei that the public never sees.

Bearing all that in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to give members a chance to see some of the places that they ordinarily wouldn’t see—and provide the Friends with a unique experience.

A small group of about 10 were fortunate enough to participate in this first Off the Beaten Track field trip on Saturday 21st January 2023, and who better to lead it than Frans Krige, the former manager of Verloren Valei and MTPA’s current Biodiversity Land Use Advisor.

We were also fortunate to have Gerrit van Ede, the chairman of Friends of Verloren Valei and author of Flowers of Verloren Valei with us. Another honoured guest was Patrick Serakwana, the new manager of the Reserve.

We drove in a roughly south-westerly direction, towards the southern boundary, and then cut across the reserve towards the Douw Steyn ruins, with many stops for orchid viewing—Frans and Gerrit together makes this quite inevitable!

The two orchid enthusiasts and experts confer: Frans on the left, Gerrit on the right
Patrick Serakwana, Reserve Manager of Verloren Valei

The veld was looking very good after all the rain, and the grass was starred with myriad flowers, with the pink starbursts of the Brunsvigia being the most spectacular.

Then, with some casting about to find the barely visible road, Frans took us to the “secret waterfall” that he only recently discovered, something that he was unaware of during all the years he lived on the Reserve. As you will see in the picture below, it’s a narrow kloof with thick bush down which a strongly flowing stream tumbles.

The “secret waterfall” (Photograph: Julie Taylor)

Another happy sight was a group of six Blue Cranes.

Six blue cranes (Photograph: Steve Vincent)

If we manage to organise more of these field trips for members, I strongly urge you to take advantage of them to get a new perspective on this magical reserve.

“Bushman’s factory”, anyone?

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