[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Explore the mysteries of a petrified forest
Wild Coast Sun, Sun International’s only beachfront resort, has been a family holiday destination for over 40 years, with an abundance of activities to choose from.
Situated near Port Edward on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal and just within the Eastern Cape border, the area is known for its breathtakingly beautiful and unspoilt beaches.
The four-star resort is perfectly situated next to a petrified forest and offers guided tours to those wishing to embrace the beauty of the coastline.
When you think of a petrified forest, you may expect to see a forest in the traditional sense, but you would be wrong. The forest does not stand tall next to you but rather underneath – as you walk, you will see 80-million-year-old fossilised trees and deposits on the rocks.
An oblivious person walking along the beach will be completely unaware of what lies below their feet; therefore, a tour guide is essential to appreciate the history and sights from the Cretaceous period and volcanic remains.
Tour guide, Lonwabo Dlamini, is very knowledgeable and he showed our tour group the petrified trees, fossilised rocks, shells, and animal and dinosaur fragments with great excitement, as if we were his first tour, not his 100th.
The tour meeting point is at the parking area of the Wild Waves Water Park and down a short path onto the beach where the 2km (two-hour) tour starts.
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.
Kick off your shoes and walk along the rocks and discover the tree and log formations, as well as beautiful examples of tightly coiled ammonites, echinoids (sea urchins) and bivalve shells, with the magnificent Indian Ocean on one side and a 10-metre cliff on the other.
The cliff also consists of fossil material, and you follow it along the coast until you get to a series of caves, known as the “White Man’s Caves” – named after shipwrecked Portuguese sailors who sheltered in them during the 1800s.
The Petrified Forest guided tours cost R90 per person. Contact Bheki Nzimande on (063) 338 8766.
* Tours are aligned to low tide, so times vary; liaise with the tour guides to schedule.
- Use sunscreen;
- Wear slops, as you walk through water and will need to carry your shoes; and
- Pack lightly if you pack anything at all – you only need water if it’s a hot day.
Hiking enthusiasts can contact Lonwabo Dlamini on (078) 631 2730 for inland guided tours. Your options are 8km half-day tours or full-day tours that range between one day up to eight days hiking, where you do between 15km and 21km a day. All full day-tours start inland hiking through the wilderness and end on the beach to view the Petrified Forest. R100 per person per day.
The four-day hike is 83km. Hikers spend nights in homestay villages and experience the hospitality of the locals. R4 000 per person and includes catering in the villages, packed lunches and transport back to the Wild Coast Sun.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]