Tuesday, July 05, 2016

@MyVoiceMap Elfin Trail in the Cecilia Forest with TravelMassive

A walk with the fairies and elves and one was dwarfed
We are members of Travel Massive, an international travel networking organisation, and were asked if we would like to go on a walk through Cecilia Forest one Saturday afternoon. You take your phone on the walks and download free software from VoiceMap. Then, on the walk, GPS triggers a commentary that tells you about your surroundings and gives directions. You need an iPhone or an Android phone. We have Windows phones which don't take the app, so another phone was provided to us for the walk. There is a charge for using the App. It was a very interesting and easy walk. And for Lynne, a bit challenging near the uphill end, when her energy began to wane. VoiceMap walks can be done all over South Africa and internationally too. Some are in the country or seaside, others are city walks, museums, galleries, wine farms, etc. Check out their website on https://voicemap.me/
We were there to do the fantasy Elfin Trail, especially good for families. There is this signage along the path as well, you have to look for it. It is 5 kilometres long and not very arduous. The children on the walk coped well. Not all the adults did, some, who don’t do long walks often, got a bit tired (Lynne) and some got a bit lost, but found their way eventually. We think they were listening too hard to each other rather than the fairy talking to them
The walk began in the car park at the intersection of Rhodes Drive and Hohenort Avenue. It was a reasonably large group of different ages and sizes. All were kitted out for changes in the weather and came armed with their cell phones
Iain Manley of VoiceMap explained how to download the software to our phones, gave us instructions of what to look for and off we set. It is about a 2 hour walk unless you are unfit and not used to walking, then it takes a while longer
The path is well maintained and easy going. Our phones began the commentary with an Irish fairy voice telling us about the local legends of pixies and elves. She also told us when to stop and turn off in another direction. 
Some honey fungus on a log, left there by the pixies, to be sure
A glade of some of the most magnificent eucalyptus trees in Africa, this glade of trees is now protected. They are said to have been planted by Cecil John Rhodes alongside other alien trees, in his attempt to make the landscape more like that of Europe and have grown to an enormous size. The forest was once used for logging, but is now being returned to the indigenous fynbos and Afro-temperate forest
A tiny berry bush, with fruit just large enough for a fairy breakfast
Iain waiting for people to check whether the software was working well. We needed some updating, as our phone kept losing the signal
Through the woods and into the trees, up hill and down dale, and into the mysterious cork oak forest which runs along the top of the road. Lots of goblins hide here
You can see pixie and goblin faces in the cork
A magical tree fern waiting to unfurl when the elves appear
Down the hill and across the river, seeking magic in the surrounding bulrushes
Fairy flowers, early snowdrops
And under the whispering Aspens, some orange Crocosmia growing alongside the stream
Grassland is suitable for fairy rings
And then, a patch of dark and mysterious forest to rush through. Is this where the centaurs hide?
Now we began our long climb back up the hill, following the path alongside the river and keeping our eyes open for the woodcutter who, the Irish lady said, was swallowed up by the undergrowth when he didn't keep his promise to the tree guardians. The walk was through beautiful lush countryside
And finally, after Lynne nearly gave up hope, with only half a kilometre to go, she was rescued by an angel by the name of Dawn. We arrived by car at our final destination, The Alphen
Groot Constantia wine estate had specially donated some lovely Bubbly and wines to warm up and refresh the media and bloggers doing the walk. The Alphen Five Rooms restaurant, hospitably, also provided hot chocolate, snacks and cakes
The weary and the energised went through to the terrace to enjoy the last of the afternoon
and glasses of Groot Constantia Brut Rosé were gratefully received
While we told our tales of the fairy folk we had encountered and the trials and tests we had endured...
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016
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