Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Surviving" Wolwedans

My summer vacation started of with a bang. On Monday I had a good kitesurfing session which would probably be the last one for 2011 as I am in a different part of the world now. Yesterday I was on the motor bike on my way to Mossel Bay where I will stay at least a week to spend time with the family and to do some of my other hobbies. This morning I took my son for another one of his "Ultimate Survival"excursions.

The Wolwedans ("Wolf dance") Dam is situated in the halls behind Great Brak River close to Mossel Bay and the Garden Route. I have no idea why the name has something to do with wolves as I am sure that there were no wolves in these parts of South Africa. Anyway, the idea was to be dropped off at the dam wall and to find our way back to "civilization". So kitted out in his latest survival gear and all the Bear Grylls survival goodies he received at the Xmas Party, the little survival man headed down to the river valley. "We always follow the river down where the possibility of finding humans is always better downstream." Quoted from Bear himself. 

As we climbed down into the ravine, we were very soon surprised with our fist wild life in the form of the Knysna Loerie. The problem with doing a survival trip with a five year old is that the continuous chatter of a little boy over-excited about what lies ahead, has the tendency to scare away any possible close encounters (or good photos) of the local wild life. I managed to calm him down and get a very vague picture of this rare and very shy bird just as evidence. See if you can find it on the photo below.

The route along the rock boulders is about 3 kilometres from the wall until you first see "civilization". My first concern was the sign warning that the water level could rise at any time when the flood gates are opened. There were no numbers to contact for verification so I just hoped for the best while continuously looking for a way up the steep hangs of the valley. My second concern was that all the climbing would tire out the little survival man and that I might have to carry him to the end. Fortunately none of these happened.

There is not much of a trail along the river bed, so climbing the boulders were the only way forward. Occasionally we had to stop for "food", but apart from a small crab that quickly got away there was not much evidence of any form of life in the water. Fortunately we had our own water and the peanut butter sandwiches made up for the lack of fish and crabs. We did try and build a wall the stop the flowing water with the hope of trapping some fish, but I knew that this was wishful thinking and did it for the sake of a little man who no-one wants to disappoint with the reality of the damage that big dams can do to little rivers and its aquatic life.

Along the way we also saw a beautiful Fish Eagle and a little Woodpecker. Yet again startled long before I could get the lens cap off. Apart from that and a lot of monkey and baboon poo, there wasn't much to get excited about. Being alone in the "wild" was just amazing, and I can imagine what it must feel like to be really away from civilization.

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