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Botany Weekend at Verlorenkloof

Botany Weekend at Verlorenkloof

Friday, 7 – Monday, 10 February 2020

The theme of the weekend is absolutely anything green and growing! Verlorenkloof has a rich biodiverse landscape which will offer you ample opportunities to experience many different trees, flowers and orchids in the various habitats which are a joy to visit in any season.

Accommodation: R2 900 per ROOM in SHARED SELF CATERING CROFTS, from Friday to Monday.

Meals: see below

PROGRAM

Friday 7 February 

18:30 – 20:30 – Gather at the Lodge to meet each other and listen to an informal introductory talk about the flowers of Verlorenkloof by Kevin Gill and Andry Engelbrecht. The cost is R100 p/person and will include light finger snacks, wine & sherry.

Saturday 8 February

(To be announced on Friday night, weather permitting)

07:00 – 11:00 – Meet at the Rock Pool below Croft 2 and let Verlorenkloof’s mysteries unfold. The walk will be slow and gradual as we take in our surroundings, so it can be enjoyed by all ages. Bring a hat, sunscreen and water. Lunch at your Croft. In the afternoon Frans Krige, our orchid specialist, can assess the weather and make arrangements as to interest in seeing the beautiful Gladiolus cataractarum growing in the Robin’s Kloof cliffs, a treasure only flowering at this time of the year. A definite must see!

Saturday evening – own braai/dinner at your fully equipped croft.

Sunday 9 February

Early morning – A possible opportunity for a walk with Frans, depending on the previous day’s arrangements.

10:00 am – Sunday will end off with a wrap-up talk at the lodge and an opportunity to answer any last questions.

11:00 am Brunch is optional andwill be served at the Lodge at R170 per person. Please book with Reception when making your booking.

Departure afterwards at your own leisure. You are most welcome to stay until Monday morning.

We look forward to you having you here with us!

Birding Day Program at Verlorenkloof

Birding Day Program at Verlorenkloof

Join Geoff Lockwood, Jane Smart and the Verlorenkloof Team for a weekend of feathered fun!

Throughout the weekend you will be guided through the wetlands, the open grasslands and to the forested kloofs of Verlorenkloof Estate to view a diversity of birdlife. This rich biodiverse landscape will offer you ample opportunities to experience the birdlife in the various habitats which are a joy to visit in any season. Geoff will also coax those birds from wherever they are hiding with his true to nature imitations.

Friday

18:30 – 20:30 Gather at the Lodge for an informal birding talk by specialist Geoff Lockwood. The cost is R100 p/person and will include finger snacks, wine & sherry. Feel free to bring your own drinks too.

Saturday

06:00 Meet up with group leaders Geoff Lockwood and Jane Smart at the Rock Pool below Croft 2. The leaders determine how the day will unfold from there, depending on the weather and the participants.

Saturday evening – own braai/dinner at your fully equipped Croft. There is a Croft Food menu available if you would like to order in from Foodspace, please contact Reception to place your order.

Sunday

09:00 Meet at the Lodge for the wrap-up talk.

10:30 Brunch is optional and will be served at the Lodge at R150 per person. Please book with Reception when checking in.

Depart at your own leisure; you are most welcome to stay until Monday morning. We look forward to you having you here with us!

Birding Fact Sheet for Verlorenkloof

Verlorenkloof Estate is an exciting birding destination in Mpumalanga. Due to its wonderful array of habitats, birds are both diverse and numerous. To date, 186 species have been recorded on the estate, six of which are endemic to South Afric a, while an additional 17 species are endemic to southern Africa (see overleaf). Seven species are listed in the South African Red Data Book – Saddle-billed Stork, Bateleur, Peregrine Falcon, Southern Bald Ibis, Southern Crowned Crane, Blue Crane and Broad-tailed Warbler.

The following is a summary of some of the birding highlights at Verlorenkloof Estate:

Afro-montane Forest

Walking through the numerous kloofs (e.g. Robin’s Kloof, Verlorenkloof ) look and listen out for the following forest species: African Goshawk, Black Cuckoo, Narina Trogon, Olive Woodpecker, Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Orange Ground Thrush, Chorister Robin, Yellow-throated Warbler, Cape Batis, Blue mantled Flycatcher and Collared Sunbird. These are all relatively uncommon species, which are more often heard than seen.

Montane Grassland

A climb to the top of the mountain will reveal extensive montane grasslands with rocky outcrops. Here grassland specials such as Fan-tailed Cisticola, Ayre’s Cisticola and Wailing Cisticola are common and easily recognizable by their calls and/ or display flights. Isolated clumps of Protea species will reward the birder with sightings of Gurney’’ Sugarbird (these birds breed exclusively in proteas); Malachite Sunbird and Cape canary. Look out for the Malac hite Sunbird at Fernkloof Hut. Spec ies to look out for clambering on the rocks and boulders are Buff streaked Chat, Sentinel Rock Thrush and Long billed Lark. Sitting on or near the edge of the cliffs, one is rewarded with excellent views of some of the aerial masters of the mountains, including species like Black Swift, Alpine Swift, Rock Martin and raptors such as Black Eagle, Jackal Buzzard, Rock Kestrel and even perhaps a Peregrine or Lanner Falc on. Southern Bald Ibis and Red winged Starling may also be seen from this vantage point.

Woodland

Interspersed between the kloof forests is woodland. This is probably the richest bird habitat on the estate and is highly recommended, especially if walked in the early morning. Noteworthy species to look and listen out for inc lude Klaas’s Cuckoo, Woodland Kingfisher, Red-throated Wryneck, Black Sawwing Swallow, Olive Bush, Shrike, Plum coloured Starling and Sweet Waxbill. Raptors inc lude the Gymnogene and Steppe Buzzard.

Wetlands

The wetlands on the estate can be divided into dams, vlei areas and the river. All play a role in the diversity and abundance of aquatic birds on the estate. Some highlights include species like Dabchick, Spur-winged Goose and Half collared Kingfisher on or near the dams, Broad-tailed Warbler, Croaking Cisticola, Yellow Warbler and all five widow species in the vlei areas, while Africa Black Duck, Yellow-billed Duck and Cape Weaver ( with large nesting colonies) are frequently seen on the river.

Sour Grasslands

The mid and upper slopes are dominated by sour grass veld and are home to certain species, Including Redwing Francolin, Croaking Cisticola, Grassbird, Rufous-naped Lark, Blue-billed Firefinch, Black Widowfinch and Streaky headed Canary.

A COUPLE OF TIPS TO ENSURE GOOD VIEWING

  • Spend most of your time in the early part of one day exploring the kloofs and woodland areas while doing the same another day for the grassland and wetland areas. This will greatly increase your chances of seeing more birds during your trip.
  • Summer is definitely the best time to visit the Estate from a birding perspective, as this is when most migrants can be seen and many species are breeding.
  • A weekend list of a 100 species is not impossible, while a longer visit could produce a list of close to 150 species.
Botany & Archaeology Weekend

Botany & Archaeology Weekend

The theme of the weekend is absolutely anything green and growing! Verlorenkloof has a rich biodiverse landscape which will offer you ample opportunities to experience many different trees, flowers and orchids in the various habitats which are a joy to visit in any season.

PROGRAM

Friday

18:30 – 20:30 – Gather at the Lodge for an informal introductory talk about the Verlorenkloof landscape and archaeology by resident enthusiast and owner of Verlorenkloof Eric Johnson. The cost is R100 p/person and will include light finger snacks, wine & sherry. Feel free to bring your own drinks too.

Saturday

07:00 – 11:00 – Meet at the Rock Pool below Croft 2 and let Verlorenkloof’s mysteries unfold. The walk will be slow and gradual as w take in our surroundings, so it can be enjoyed by all ages. Pack a hat, sunscreen and water. Lunch at your Croft. In the afternoon Frans Krige, our orchid specialist, can assess the weather and make arrangements as to interest in seeing the beautiful Gladiolus cataractarum growing in the Robin’s Kloof cliffs, a treasure only flowering at this time of the year. A definite must-see!

Saturday evening – own braai/dinner at your fully equipped croft.

Sunday

Early morning – A possible opportunity for a walk with Frans, depending on the previous day’s arrangements.

10:00 am – Sunday will end off with a wrap-up talk at the lodge and an opportunity to answer any last questions.

11:00 am – Brunch is optional and will be served at the Lodge at R150 per person. Please book with Reception when making your booking. Departure afterwards at your own leisure. You are most welcome to stay until Monday morning.

We look forward to you having you here with us!

Vegetation Fact Sheet for Verlorenkloof

The vegetation on Verlorenkloof contains many of the “escarpment specials” that make our escarpment so unique. Some of these species may be found elsewhere but the accumulation of all these on Verlorenkloof is certainly worth mentioning.

Verlorenkloof is blessed with a variety of trees (three of which may be worth special mentioning, see bottom of report), flowering plants, medicinal plants, bulbous plants, and two dwarf grass aloes (Aloe verecunda and Aloe boylei). The one grass aloe (A. boylei) is endemic to the Drakensberg escarpment area, while the other (A verecunda) has a very limited distribution and confined to small areas within the old Transvaal Province. Its occurrence on Verlorenkloof is the first record for the Badfontein area.

A variety of flowering plants can be found on Verlorenkloof. Many of these are generally confined to the greater Drakensberg escarpment area. Examples of attractive flowering species to be found along the hiking trails include: Blood Lily or Paintbrush (Scadoxus puniceus), Rabbit’s Ears (Haemanthus humilis), Candelabra flower (Brunsvigia radulosa), Ifafa Fire Lily (Cyrtanthus stenanthus var. major), Grass Hairbell (Dierama sp.), Forest Falling Stars (Crocosmia aurea), Zigzag Crocosmia (Crocosmia Paniculata), Common Marsh Poker (Kniphofia linearifolia), Large Blue Scilla (Scilla natalensis), Tumblehead (Boophane disticha), Honey flower (Gladiolus longicollis), which is pollinated by a moth with a 10 cm long proboscis, Pineapple flower (Eucomis autumnalis) and the Barberton Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii).

The forested kloofs are comprised of typical Afromontane elements such as the Real Yellowwood (Podocarpus latifolius), Red Pear (Scolopia mundii), Wild Gardenia (Rothmania capensis), Silky Bark (Maytenus acuminata), Common Hard-Leaf (Phylica paniculata), Cape Beech (Rapanea melanophloeos) and White Silky Bark (Robsonodendron eucoleiforme).

A variety of fynbos–like plants may be found on the top of the plateau. Examples include four species of Heath (Erica alticola, E. cerinthoides, E. drakensbergensis and E. woodii), Rice-bushes (Cliffortia repens and C. serphyllifolia), Mountain Gonna (Passerina montana), the Transvaal Cranberry (Vaccinium exul) and four protea species (P. caffra, P. gaguedi, P. roupelliae and P. welwitschii).

Important medicinal plants include two trees (Curtisia dentata and Prunus africana), a variety of bulbous plants (Scilla sp. and Boophane disticha) and some herbs (eg. Artemisia afra). Signs of bark utilization for medicinal purposes may be seen on an Assegai tree (Curtisia dentata) which occurs between points 3 & 4 on the hiking trail. On this tree one can see that a rectangular piece of bark has been cut out of the stem. The bark has medicinal values and is also used for the tanning of leather.

Verlorenkloof also contains two trees that are endemic to the Mpumalanga escarpment. They include the Transvaal Wild Quince (Cryptocarya transvaalensis) and the Forest Beech (Faurea galpinii). The River Currant (Rhus gerrardii) is endemic to the greater Drakensberg escarpment where it is only found along rivers and streams, such as the upper reaches of the Crocodile River on Verlorenkloof where it is quite plentiful.

To date, 483 plant species have been identified at Verlorenkloof and, of these, there are 142 tree species.

Compiled by: Mervyn Lötter. Email: mervyn@intekom.co.za

Archaeology at Verlorenkloof

Archaeology at Verlorenkloof

Join farm owner Eric Johnson and Verlorenkloof guide Joseph Mothupi for a special weekend of discovery of our archaeological heritage.

Verlorenkloof Estate is home to a rich stone-walled legacy and lies at the epicentre of an extensive complex of late Iron Age (1500-1830 AD) archaeology stretching along the escarpment from Carolina to Ohrigstad. Stonewalled homesteads with cattle tracks and terraces mark the sloping hills. The estate has in excess of 120 recorded sites and has been actively involved over the past 12 years in developing and researching this resource. The result of this research, the recently launched Forgotten World, co-authored by Peter Delius (historian) and Tim Maggs and Alex Schoeman (archaeologists) tells the story of the Koni people who lived here.

Suggested Itinerary :

Friday
6:30 pm – Gather at the lodge for an informal background talk by Eric Johnson.
8.00 pm – Dinner to be served – please bring own drinks or use our courtesy bar.

Saturday
8 am – Meet up with Eric and Joseph in front of the Dairy. The leaders determine how the day will unfold, depending on the weather and the participants. Please dress comfortably for walking – about 1,5 km.
Saturday evening – own braai/dinner at your fully equipped croft.

Sunday
9 am – Meet at the lodge for the wrap-up talk.
10h30 – Brunch at the lodge
Departure afterwards at your own leisure. You are most welcome to stay until Monday morning.

We look forward to you having you here with us!