Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tsitsikamma

The area between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town is known as the Garden Route. It is one of the most popular tourist routes in South Africa. About 160km west of Port Elizabeth you enter the Tsitsikamma. The Tsitsikamma is the area wedged between the ocean and the Tsitsikamma Mountains and consist of indigenous forests, magnificent coastline, river gorges, streams and some of the most awesome scenery on the whole Garden Route.

The indigenous forest consist of trees like the Yellowwood, stinkwood, ironwood, milkwood and much more. These trees are all protected by South African law as they are all hardwood species that were nearly cut out in the late 1800's for the building of boats, houses and the railway line north. Today you get very sought after furniture made from these woods harvested from the forest in a sustainable way. Some of the Outeniqua Yellowwoods (SA's national tree) in the Tsitsikamma Forest are about 800 years old.

The water in all the streams in the Tsitsikamma has a brown tea of whisky like colour to them. It is not because of pollution but because of tannin picked up as the streams flow through the fynbos and forests. If you want to look at it this way. The forest acts like a giant teabag. The water is still clean and drinkable.

One of the ways that the forest recycle itself is with the bracket fungus. Branches breaking off starts to rot and the bracket fungus starts to grow on it. The fungus pushes roots into the rotting branches that breaks it up even more. In this way all the nutrients of the rotting branches go back into the soil which is very important seeing the the whole forest grows on a layer of humic soil only about 1.5 - 2 metres deep. Below that is Table Mountain sandstone.

5 comments:

  1. Oh wow !! fantastic shots of such an interesting place, just beautiful, and the little stream and ferns shot is gorgeous, and it looks so sunny and beautiful on the other shots.....just off to grab my hot water bottle, for another evening of below zero temperatures :-(

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  2. That almost looks similar to the forest in British Columbia. The fern is similar and so is the fungus. In BC we call the fallen trees "nurse logs", and they provide moisture and nutrients for other vegetation. Eventually the nurse log fades into the forest floor, leaving little evidence that it ever existed. And so the cycle goes. Life out of death.

    I love the air flowers in your last post, too. I have never heard of such a thing. They're beautiful.

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  3. I have visited the forest and it has to be one of my favourite places in SA. I love the way you describe the area, and your photographs are wonderful.

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  4. Love the little stream. The color and the foam makes it look like a stream of beer :)

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  5. Beautiful shots. I'd never heard of air flowers either.

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