There is a place on Kaingo Game Reserve. It is called Leopard gorge.
It is easy to miss the turn off the gravel road that will lead you into the gorge. There is a massive old Common Fig tree, a few Sickle bushes, and the mountains that stand imposingly on both sides of the gorge.
An easy drive into the gorge for about 100m and from there on, your feet lead the way. Here you will not find the lime-green of the Silver cluster leaf. Instead, you will see the dark green foliage of a massive old Waterberry. A Jacket-plum shyly peeks out from under the protection of a Small-leaved Sickle bush.
The smell of dassie and baboon urine can be overpowering under their preferred sleeping spots. Notice how the rockface becomes a bit narrower.
A clear stream bubbles over the rocks and boulders through the gorge. It starts as a wetland on Tamboti plains, further east of your current position.
Are there any dangers? Oh yes, we are out in nature. “Please, let us not bump into an elephant here”; you hear yourself think.
An Orange-breasted Bush-shrike. Paradise Flycatcher. Bru-bru, a swarm of Helmeted Bush-shrikes.
A Natal Spurfowl gives your heart a jump when it explodes out from under your feet. “Did not see that coming”; you chuckle to yourself whilst getting your racing heart back in its proper place.
The rockface on your left looks inviting. You clamber over a few boulders and find out that the Khoe-khoe people and the Bushmen beat you to it. They left their mark on the rock in ancient handprints and paintings of the animals they shared their lives with.
Rock figs; Common, Red-leaved and Large-leaved carve their way out of the rock. It seems impossible that these trees can survive on the little nutrient-rich soil at their base. That is until you start following their roots. Many meters further you see the extent of the root system. And it all makes sense.
The canopy gets a bit thicker here, near the centre of the gorge.
A sound. A snap of a twig.
Somewhere above you, a dassie (Rock Hyrax) shouts its displeasure at your presence. It’s more of a warning to others in the clan to keep alert.
You get to a section where the gorge opens into a little glade. It is cooler here than on the open plains. A brown hyena uses this path to get to its den further up in the mountain. Bones, little pieces of skin and chalky white dung tell of its presence.