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Archeological Discoveries

Kwaxolo Caves

The original inhabitants of the Kwa Zulu Natal South Coast were the bushmen or San people. They lived an idyllic life with plenty of game, fish and an idyllic climate with ample fresh water. A far cry from the deserts they would inhabit in later years.  A treasure of rock paintings with unique stories to tell a hidden story of years gone by. These caves are still almost inaccessible, which is fortunate, as this has ensured the protection of this valuable natural asset.

The Red Desert Port Edward

The world’s smallest desert. This lies some  10 kilometres west of the town of Port Edward and is only 200 m in diameter and 11 hectares in its entirety. Best described as a miniature version of the Arizona Desert, the man high hills and valleys of naked red soil bare stark contrast to to the surrounding lush and tropical vegetation. Archeological artefacts  going back millions of years can be found and the locals are pleased this is now an internationally protected heritage site. This peculiar phenomenon is surrounded by myth and legend including stories that this is the site of an alien landing. Truth be told the origins of this desert are found in the location of a Zulu tribe in the 1800’s, with vast cattle herds stolen from the Pondo’s. The terrain became severely over grazed and subsequently eroded by wind leading to the desertification and an opportunity to study the unique desert ecology.                                    

Petrified Fossil Forest Port Edward

The petrified forest, officially known as the Mzamba Cretaceous Deposits, is a set of famous marine fossil beds exposed in a 10 metre-high cliff that forms a prominent headland about 2,5 km south of the Mtamvuna River. The deposits consist of greyish-brown sandstone as well as limestone rich in fossil material dating back some 80 million years to the Upper Cretaceous period.
The lower layers contain numerous tree trunks that have been silicified (converted into silica). Many of these were penetrated by marine worms before silicification was completed. The deposits also include an abundance of marine shells, among them spirally coiled cephalopod ammonites, echinoids (sea urchins) and bivalve shells. When the formation was brought to the attention of the scientific world in 1855, it provided the first evidence of fossils from the Upper Cretaceous.

The Cretaceous, is a geologic period and system from about 145.5 to 65.5 million years ago. Following on the Jurassic period, when dinosaurs walked the earth, it was a period with a relatively warm climate and high sea level. The oceans and seas were populated with now extinct marine reptiles, ammonites (a bit like octopus and cuttlefish) and rudists (primitive shellfish); and the land by dinosaurs. At the same time, new groups of mammals and birds as well as flowering plants appeared. The Cretaceous ended with one of the largest mass extinctions in Earth history, when many species, including the dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and large marine reptiles, disappeared.

The Mzamba Cretaceous Deposits have long been a protected locality, and fossil hunting and removal at this site are strictly prohibited.

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