10 October 2009

Koeberg: Grysbok Trail

Date: 10 October 2009

Location: Koeberg Nature Reserve, near Melkbosstrand

Walkers: Helen and Michele

**** Route plotted here ****

The land surrounding Koeberg Nuclear Power Station is a private natures reserve, with two hiking trails. This was our first visit here and we chose to do the shorter Grysbok Trail.

Our first impression was how strange the environment felt: outside in nature, yes, but with all the pylons, towers, fences, roads and buildings of the power station always in sight.

We'd picked up a map at the start and found the route very well signposted, with various points of interest marked along the way. The first section took us up and along the dune crest. Table Mountain was in the far distance.

There were lots of bright flowers alongside the path. Beautiful daisies!

We saw plenty of this strange little flower. It is called Zaluzianskya.

There were several plants and flowers I'd not seen before and can't seem to identify from the reference books I currently have at hand. This West Coast flora is very different to the sort of fynbos one finds on the mountain! It is incredible how they much grows in the sand. (Update: the pretty yellow one is the desert primrose, Grielum grandifolium, the one with the red and yellow fruits is Muraltia spinosa)

The delicate and tiny blue Nemesia is one of my favourites. The flowers are about the size of the fingernail on my little finger. The bug on it... minute!

From the dunes we then joined the old road for a stretch.

There was a lot of bushy shubbery along here, including brown sage...

... and bright vygies amongst the grasses.

A sea of cottontails!

The road took a turn towards the coast. The Atlantic looked turquoise blue but was full of white horses. It was a rather windy day.

Several succulents were flowering, impossibly bright and glossy.

There was also a lot of this stout little specimen. I'm not sure of its name.

Oh yes, lots to shoot!

We came to a wetlands area, sheltered behind the primary dunes.

There were several pans of water and quite few birds around. It felt like such a beautiful and wild area. And yet from here we were quite close to the nuclear facility. What an unfortunate place to have built a power station.

The bright yellow coastal daisy bushes certainly caught our attention.

The grey and green together are an attractive combination.

We walked on to the wooden viewing platform and climbed up to get a view over the dunes to the beach beyond. This is Melkbos beach where we walked at the beginning of winter.

We took a seat on the bench for a bit and enjoyed the view. We watched a young seal on the shoreline. What was he doing there all by himself?

A little further on our path came to the testing station, right on the sand. The whole place was humming with high voltage electricity. Very eerie!

Leaving that behind we turned away from the coast and headed inland.

Our path meandered up through some lovely thick coastal bush.

There were some strange plants, such as these. Types of Euphorbia?

And here we have an Albuca. And maybe a Watsonia opening?

Trachyandra: the messy divaricata in the sandier areas (almost impossible to photograph properly!) and other variety (ciliata?) a little further inland.

Nesting under bush in the shade we saw another peculiar Hyobanche sanguina. We also spotted the delicate papery Limonium - so pretty!

We also saw beasties! There were a lot of twittering birds and many insects. Also ticks - I got covered in the little read devils. Much more pleasant encounters: a tortoise and an extravagantly hairy caterpillar.

The final section of our circular route took us through the strandveld, with many mature Metalasia and Restios.

This fragrant yellow bush was everywhere too (a type of Helichrysum?).

We saw plenty of blue Moraea and also this pretty little thing, which might be Lapeirousia fabricii.

And there was an abundance of pink flowers: vygies and felicias.

I really enjoyed our walk here and look forward to doing the Dikkop Trail on another visit, maybe next springtime.

(Photos by Michele and Helen)

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