A Beautiful Deception - 12 October 2016
A Beautiful Deception
On a fine spring day the Alan Tours team climbed into the Land Cruiser with a packed picnic and went on a trip to the northern Kabouga Section of the Addo Elephant National Park.
We did the Bedrogfontein 4x4 trail where Luke and I took turns in the driver’s seat negotiating our way over rocky dry riverbeds and around tight turns letting this capable vehicle do what it is so well designed for.
‘Bedrog’ means ‘cheat’ or ‘deceive’ and this comes from a vicious battle that ensued on one of the very switchbacks we manoeuvred around. During the Anglo-Boer war the British got a ruthless beating by the Afrikaners as they surprised them on one of the turns.
Well I feel like I was a little 'deceived' on this route as I got a few surprises myself.
We drove from the familiar thicket and gwarrie-veld down into the riverline where some yellowwood trees towered above and we found ourselves in Afromontane forest. I was quite amazed, I didn’t expect this type of vegetation at all.
I once spent a few days in the Woody Cape’s Alexandria Forest helping with a bird survey where I was first told about a particular fascinating bird that only exists in small pockets of indigenous forest. I never got to see it, but ever since then, whenever I’m in their preferred habitat, I hope and wish that I do spot one. This bird is shy and difficult to see in the high canopies, known to normally perch with its green back to you making it a real challenge to spot.
As we ambled along under the shading trees after a satisfying deli-style lunch stop, a flash of red and shiny teal swooped right in front of us. I was so stunned I couldn’t get the name out at first but then it was confirmed; a NARINA TROGON! She sat on a branch facing us, exposing her bright red belly, letting us admire and take photos for a lot longer than I would’ve predicted. Wow, this was something I did not expect to see. The females are not as spectacular as the males but they’re still so striking, the experience was quite magical.
This bird is known to be a ventriloquist, so it normally tricks well, but I'm really happy with the surprise I received in this range of raw wilderness unlike that of the British soldiers.
Words by Carmen Warmenhove
Photographs by Alan Fogarty and Angelika Sommer