One of the unexpected surprises for many of our hikers on the Fynbos Trail are the beautiful forest patches along the route. While it is the fynbos that provides the incredible diversity and ever changing mosaic of colour, fragrance and texture along the route, it is the forests that are home to the ancient, slow growing trees covered in a wonderful diversity of mosses, lichens and fungi.
The trail includes patches of milkwood forest such as Steynsbos and Grootbos that have been likened by botanists to the dune forests of northern Natal. They are dominated by ancient, gnarled milkwood trees, many thought to be over 1000 years old interspersed by pock ironwood, sea guarrie and wild olives. In the damper kloofs and fire protected ravines there are patches of African mountain forest. The largest two patches are the Witvoetskloof and Stinkhoutsbos forests with ancient canopies dominated by wild peach, white stinkwood, white pear, assegai trees, rooi els and Cape beech.
Following the dry summer months it is amazing to see how the forests literally come to life over a couple of weeks following the first autumn rains. The forest floor, that just a few weeks ago was dry and brown covered in fallen leaves, is now covered in a green carpet of grasses and bulbs while the withered lichens and mosses literally rehydrate and burst back into life in the space of a few days.
These beautiful images were taken in the Steynsbos forest and show some of the lichens and mosses in early autumn.