CederbergThe two weeks have gone quickly. For the latter half of this week, we’ve been doing the usual mango and naartjie packing and things have been winding down a bit as the harvest finishes and the next set of tasks begin (I’m not sure what they’ll be, but I’ll be long gone anyway). I’ve used this weekend to sample the local hiking, which is incredibly steep and hard on the ankles and knees (all that loose sandstone) but rewarding as ever.

I climbed the higher hill today, which involved much scrambling through fynbos and skirting round huge sandstone cliffs. It was a three-hour round trip and worth every minute. The summit was almost like a limestone pavement, except it was sandstone with enormous boulders and cedar trees scattered about everywhere. It was completely silent – there weren’t even any birds (I’m told that this is because the leopards and caracals scare them off).

Clanwilliam Cedar stumpOn the way down, I spotted a couple of hyraxes (Procavia capensis, also called rock dassies). Instinctively I reached for my elephant gun camera, but they were indistinguishable from the rocks (so no photos). They look like big-ass gophers and sound like a cross between a guinea pig and a hen, but are actually related to the elephant! As I continued my descent, a bunch of baboons started making a racket from the cliffs – not wanting to meet a 200-lb alpha male armed only with my Leatherman I quickened my pace and almost trod in some big scat (my nifty new term for big cat scat). It was fresh but not wet – almost certainly from last night. There were a few prints too, and although I lack the skill to differentiate between caracals and leopards the locals reckon it was more likely to be a leopard. I made it back to the farm just as the light was failing and was immediately leapt upon by the two puppies (maybe they could smell the leopard).

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