Forest Fun in Balgowan

When planning activities at the beginning of the year, members of the Zenzane Enviro Club in Balgowan added to their wish list – “a trip to a real forest”.  Fortunately, the Midlands Conservancies Forum heard about their dream and helped make it come true.  Last week, 18 curious children hopped onto a Michaelhouse bus for an excursion organised by the Balgowan Conservancy.

Di Acres, of Midlands Forest Lodge,welcomed them and guided them through the mist-belt forest.

As they walked, they identified the different trees and fell in love with some of them. Favourites were the giant Yellowwood trees (umsonti) and also the Knobwood (umlungumabele).

They were fascinated by the Strangler Fig sapling growing in the fork of a big Celtis Africana tree – long roots reaching all the way to the ground – and the large bracket fungi clustered on the bases of the old trees.

Great fun was had mimicking the many birds they heard, and everyone was thrilled to hear the call of a Crowned Eagle overhead.  In the middle of the forest, everyone sat quietly for a forest story and to spend time listening to the sounds all around them.After explaining the forest structure, Midlands Meander Education Project facilitator, Nkanyiso Ndlela, followed up with the forest food-web game in which each participant dresses up and plays the role of one part of the forest ecosystem – there were spiders, dassies, eagles, fungi and yellowwood trees too, of course.

In the gardens of Midlands Forest Lodge, Thubelihle Sithole admired a king protea flower, noting that it was the National flower of South African and depicted on the SA Cricket Team jerseys. To her delight, Di picked it and gave it to her to take home.

Then it was time for lunch, provided by members of the Balgowan Conservancy, before heading back to Zenzane Village.

On the way home to everyone declared they had “enjoyed every moment of an amazing, fantastic day” and hoped they would get to visit again soon.

Di guides walks through the forest on the second Thursday of every month. Call her to book your spot in the next one: 082 904 6559

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