Wilderness | Map of Africa

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The Map of Africa is a densely treed ‘island’ in the shape of Africa outlined by two separate rivers which meet in a rocky river bed at the tip of ‘Africa’. The Silver river, which is fresh water, feeds down the right side of The Map from the Outeniqua mountains, while the Kaaiman’s river is salt water and meets with the sea further up. The dark colour of the water is due to tannins from the roots of the trees on the island, though the fresh water from the Silver River is apparently fresh and healthy to drink, and if used for washing your hair, eliminates the need for conditioner. The luxury houses bordering the Kaaimans River are valued at over R5 million rand each, but apparently have been vacant for a long period as due to the flooding in 1996 the owners cannot get insurance against floods. Similarly, a small log cabin that can be seen when pointed out is also vacant most of the time and when used, all equipment etc. is carted to and from the property with each visit, also because of the flood risk. Forming a backdrop to the Map of Africa are the Outeniqua Mountains, where Hansie Cronje’s plane went down.

The lady giving me all of this information then led us through the opposite field for a breathtaking view of the Wilderness coastline. The piece of land we were standing on is rented out to paragliding companies and is where paragliders take off from, landing on the beach, or if experienced and with good weather conditions – back where they started. This land is also a popular sundowner spot for watching the N2 light up as far as you can see. This lady, with a tag displaying “Voluntary Information Guide” explained that she and her partner are both 50 years old and were battling to find work in the area, so they created their own work. With a thorough knowledge of the site, they enthusiastically offer information, keep the sundowner spot clean (it is often littered after the evening picnics), and direct parking. They have also been responsible for putting up the signs directing visitors to the Map of Africa. I thought this showed wonderful initiative and offered a service not provided for by tourism departments which, generosity of patrons willing, provided these two forward thinking ladies with a bit of an income to live on.

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