Mountain Sanctuary Park

Rock formations, 2.8 billion yrs old!

Rock formations, about 2.3 billion years old!
(More photos in gallery below)

Mountain Sanctuary Park is about an hour from the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

It’s a great place for some moderate hiking.

A friend had mentioned the amazing rock formations to me and that’s what I wanted to see.

They are stunning and this whole area is, apparently, an ancient sea bed and one of the oldest parts of the earth’s crust. It is estimated to be somewhere in the region of 2.3 billion years! Nice to be surrounded by features a bit older than myself on occasion!

Really, one could spend all day looking about at all the interesting rock formations, kloofs, rock pools, etc.

However, during the summer months of December and January it’s tremendously hot around here, 35-40degC typically during the heat of the day, so one needs to carry plenty water, hat and sunblock.

Now the other thing that struck me is that it’s probably not very clever to be wandering around the remote bushveld on my own. Generally I get over that hurdle by just agreeing it’s not too clever and getting on with the hike.

However, it did occur to me it probably was a good idea to at least watch where I was stepping because of Puff adder snakes. They are very common right throughout most of Africa and account for the majority of venomous snake bites. Most snakes (even the venomous variety with a few notable exceptions such as the black mamba) are very passive and slither away long before you are even aware of them. Even the mamba prefers to retreat if feasible in its judgement. But the Puff adder’s natural defense is to lie completely still and stay put. They have excellent camouflage. So inadvertently stepping on the blighter is the normal cause of being bitten. I guess so would we if some clot stood on us! At that point one has a very serious problem if the right help is not to hand quite quickly.

So I watched where I was stepping! All fine.

The other very interesting thing was I ended up in an area where there were a lot of baboons. I wasn’t sure how (un)clever that was either! The males are rather big and very powerful.

Some males were doing occasional very loud sharp barking right in the area I needed to walk through to get back to my car. This is their normal way to announce intruders in their territory, communicate, etc. So I tried to flank where I thought they were and the barks kept moving in the same direction as I, getting louder. Ok, just keep moving slowly in the general direction.

Problem was, a couple of very loud barks came directly from a place where I needed to cross over a stream but I couldn’t see them!

Slowly made my way down to where I needed to ford the stream, and there about a hundred metres to my right I saw a troop of baboon, what appeared to be several females with quite a few young. Wonderful! Too far away to get a decent photo and it definitely didn’t seem like a good idea to try to follow them to get a better photo!

So I slowly crossed over the stream and kept moving in the direction I needed to go.

When I had exited into some clear space on the other side of the stream I looked back to my left to see two big male baboons about 50 metres away peacefully making their way across the path I had just taken and down to the rest of the troop. They were obviously shadowing and guarding the troop of females and young further down to the right. Leopard would be the natural predator to baboons.

I decided I didn’t want to intrude into their space any further by stopping and trying to get some photos of them and they didn’t seem at all bothered by my going on my way. Wonderful! Their space, not mine!

Hadn’t done so before but when I got back to base I thought it was a good idea to do a little research on best practices in baboon country! Better late than never I guess!