Kudu Ridge Game Ranch is located near to the town of Addo, within the picturesque valley of the Sundays River. Although Addo is most commonly frequented for its rich array of fauna and flora, unbeknown to most is that the entire Sundays River Valley is extremely unique in both its formation and appearance. For millions of years the Sundays River Valley has evolved and transformed, primarily because its river system has been deeply influenced by past shifting sea levels, climate changes and neotectonic activity. From a geological, paleontological and archaeological standpoint this river valley has immense value.
As a ‘window’ through which we can gaze into the past, this valley allows one to see first-hand what the landscape would have looked like all those millions of years ago, and further, to see what remnants were left behind by those whom visited the region. With fossils abound, and even a dinosaur named after one of the valleys prominent regions and towns (Kirkwood), it is clear that the landscape has immense time depth. As one looks a bit closer and observes the ground itself a host of interesting finds begin to appear. Throughout the entire region is an abundance of stone tools which, to the untrained eye, may appear just to be rocks. Stone tools are common throughout the African continent, ranging in age from around 2.6 million years ago (Mya) to those used up until the historic period. The Sundays River Valley is rich in Earlier Stone Age (ESA) Acheulean material, dating from about 1.3 Mya to about 650kya. Both Middle Stone Age (MSA) and Later Stone Age (LSA) artefacts are also found throughout the region. This abundance of ESA material is significant as very little ESA research has been done in the Eastern Cape as a whole. These artefacts enable us to assess the palaeoenvironmental significance of the valley. In the past this region would have been extremely rich in resources (food, water and raw materials for making stone tools) so inhabitants at the time would have been attracted to the area. The sheer abundance of archaeological artefacts throughout this region attests to this.
There is seldom an opportunity in all the world where one can marvel not only at beautiful scenery, animals and birdlife but also at a landscape which is intimately complex and rich in artefacts of the past. The Sundays River Valley, and more specifically the Addo region, affords this opportunity; there is however no better lodge to visit, from which to view the valley, than that of Kudu Ridge. With a keen interest in all that is paleontological and archaeological, hosts Brian, Jenny and Andrew are always willing to impart knowledge to others about the significance of their property and what artefacts can be found there. Any true lover of the African bush who seeks to experience something a little more extraordinary and different should most definitely pay Kudu Ridge a visit.
Matt Lotter – PhD Student – Witwatersrand University Archaeology Department