PICS: Petrified Forest a hidden gem on the South Coast
Share this article:
Our tour guide Bheki Nzimande, informs us that we shall be doing a 12 km walk to see the Petrified Forest - just as we are about to leave for the two hour walk from the Wild Coast Sun.
But while I assume there are hundreds of trees, side by side, in a lush forest, I am clearly mistaken. The stretch of beach between the Wild Coast Sun and the Mzamba river is locally known as Petrified Forest.
It represents the fossilisation remains of an ancient marine environment deposited during the Cretaceous period some 85 million years ago. The site was discovered in 1824 by Pioneer HF Fynn and brought to the notice of the scientific world by Captain JR Garden in 1855.
The inter-tidal reefs exposed on the beach during low tide and the cliffs on both sides of the Mzamba Estuary contain a collection of large petrified logs, marine reptiles, including ammonites, giant clams blackened pieces of bone preserved in phosphate, turtle scutes and shells or shelly fragments.
As our bare feet touch the scorching hot sand, we start our trek along the beach to see the fossilised trees.
A few months ago when I was a guest at the Wild Coast Sun, I would have never guessed that this hidden gem was mere minutes away - in fact, I probably would have thought the fossilised trees were simply rocks.
The blistering sun may have caused severe sunburn, but the walk is quite the history lesson. Nzimande stops at select points, explains as fast as he can to accommodate guests and continues the trek.
As we venture further into the forest, I am in awe of how Mother Nature works. The history of the forest is by far one of the most interesting stories I heard in awhile.
Besides the historical significance, the views are out of this world. You get to experience the beach in its entirety.
Soon we stop at White Man Caves, which was named after the portuguese men who came to KwaZulu-Natal after their ship wreck during the 1800s.
The caves is a perfect place to explore and a nice setting for those Instagram worthy pictures.
The trek back is the hardest, but if you are hydrated and have a few snacks at hand, it is bearable and as the forest is right on the beach, you can splash around to cool down..
After our journey, we fueled up with some burgers and milkshakes at the Wild Coast Sun.