Sunday, October 14, 2007

Nature park in the heart of the Karoo.
We wanted to see Aloe broomii and Aloe claviflora in bloom in their habitat. There can be no nicer place to go and look for them than in the Nature Park at Beaufort West in the Karoo.

Photo above :-  A very friendly welcome at the entrance to the park.  This is Aloe broomii habitat. The inflorescens of this aloe is unbranched with densely packed small flowers. The buds are still tightly closed on the photo above.
 More aloes in the small garden at the entrance to the park The bungalows are at the foot of the mountains in the background, far from the noisy N1 traffic.

Photo above:- The view late afternoon from the back of our bungalow. There are some walking trails but visitors may walk where they please in the park before 17:00. The only warning is to remain in the car if the rhinos are visible. And take note bird watchers - In the park there is also bird watching huts at a dam where a large variety of birds will at least visit to drink.

We saw only the dung of the rhino on the dry river bed. Much more interesting was the exposed history where the river cut into the terrain exposing large rocks deposited by a glacier some 250 million years ago. Those rocks are about one and a half metre high (four to five feet) and a few are larger. I thought I could use the tree to show size but it is not as effective as it would have been with one of us standing there.
I took one of the small boulders home, so that I can look at a 250+ million year old souvenir in my garden. By the way at this stage Africa was still part of Gondwanaland, with South America, India and Australia.

It was only millions of years later when the continents drifted apart making cracks in the crust where volcanoes erupted, that the forces of nature folded and turned whole mountains on their side, as if it was playing with clay. This photo was taken in the Small Karoo to the south of Beaufort West. The folds can be seen much better when the photo is larger. Click on the photo.

Back to the present, we were driving up and down mountains looking for our aloes. One of the roads is visible to the left and back of the photo. We took the footpath to the top of this mountain but even that was without success. The aloes we saw at the entrance were nice, but the purpose of our visit was to see them in the wild. We saw many different wild antelope but the only wild things that we wanted to see were the aloe plants, and we found nothing on the top of the mountain or even in the deep crevices (where aloes often grow, no joking). We had a laugh to think we wanted to see them in flower, now we will be happy to see any one. There will be aloes somewhere in this very large park, but it seems they are not near any of the usual trails.