The mountains around Oudtshoorn and De Rust hold many interesting secrets. For one, their geology encapsulates the tumultuous folding and faulting and deposition of rock and sediment that’s taken place over hundreds of millions of years — from before and after Africa broke away from Gondwanaland’s other nascent continents in the southern hemisphere.

I’m thinking this as I guide our borrowed bakkie down a special gravel road between Calitzdorp and Kruisrivier. It’s lined on both sides with arguably the region’s most distinctive geological formations, the red stone hills made up of Enon conglomerate. They were formed from deposits of sand rich in iron oxide and embedded stone carried by fast-flowing rivers sometime during the Jurassic period, when great downpours engorged rivers that sped down the surrounding mountains on their way to the sea...

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