HOTTENTOTS HOLLAND NATURE RESERVE (Overberg)
Lying amidst the majestic Hottentots Holland Mountains this 70 000ha reserve stretches from Elgin to beyond Villiersdorp. The entrance is between Grabouw and Villiersdorp. With rocky mountains, bright wildflowers and natural pools the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve offers stimulating hikes, adrenalin-pumping kloofing as well as the Cape Canopy Tour zipline adventure.
Kloofing is not undertaken during the winter months and is only being offered to those thrill-seekers from November to the end of April each year. The reserve is a hikers dream with several day walks available as well as some overnight trails. The zipline is an adventure that has been added to the nature reserve offering visitors breathtaking views from a great height. For more information see www.capecanopytour.co.za.
KOGELBERG NATURE RESERVE (Greater Hermanus)
Providing scenes of both mountain and sea the Kogelberg Nature Reserve is considered by many to be the most beautiful of Cape Nature’s protected areas. The entrance is situated approximately 3km from Kleinmond. The nature reserve has exceptional diversity with a core of about 18 000ha kept completely untouched by human beings. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in the early 90’s Kogelberg was one of South Africa’s first registered biosphere reserves. It encompasses the entire coastal area from Gordon’s Bay to the Bot River vlei.
The Kogelberg is home to a fantastic canoe trail which covers 15kms of the Palmiet River. Only open from the beginning of June to the end of September, it should really only be undertaken by competent canoeists.
WALKER BAY NATURE RESERVE (Overberg)
Managed by Cape Nature, Walker Bay Nature Reserve is located just east of Hermanus on the south-western Cape coast with access via Stanford, De Kelders or Uilkraalsmond. Approximately 1 000ha in size with a 17km white sandy beach, Walker Bay Nature Reserve is a remarkable sight to behold.
Excellent opportunities for day hiking and fishing, Walker Bay Nature Reserve does not have overnight facilities. There are a variety of animals found in the reserve from the Cape clawless otter and bushbuck to dolphins and of course, the grandiose Southern right whales between August and November.
AGULHAS NATIONAL PARK (Southern Overberg)
A South African National Park (SANParks), Agulhas has geographical extremes which will capture the imagination of anyone who visits. Entrance to the park is gained just outside Bredasdorp. Some unique features to the park include distinctive vegetation such as limestone fynbos, as well as the crystallized remains of salt pans which now form part of the park’s cultural heritage. The salt pans and wetlands offer visitors a chance to see some remarkable birdlife including the endangered African Black Oyster-catcher.
SALMONSDAM NATURE RESERVE (Overberg)
The nature reserve lies at the base of the Perdeberg Mountains approximately 20kms from Stanford, and attracts avid birdwatchers throughout the year. Established in 1962 the reserve covers an area of 834ha and forms part of the catchment area of the Paardenberg River. Waterfalls, clear mountain streams, primordial caves and bountiful wildlife makes a hike through this reserve an exciting adventure.
DE MOND NATURE RESERVE (Cape Agulhas)
Situated at the mouth of the Heuningnes River and under management of Cape Nature, De Mond Nature Reserve is a beautiful coastal reserve located about 26kms outside of Bredasdorp. Considered to be the smallest of the Cape Nature reserves De Mond definitely does not lack the beauty.
Picnic’s, hiking and fishing are favourite pastimes giving the whole family something to enjoy. To maintain the peaceful quality of the reserve no cars are allowed with parking provided at the entrance. Gorgeous Flamingos can be seen within the reserve – keep a look out for them!
DE HOOP NATURE RESERVE (Overberg)
De Hoop Nature Reserve is one of the largest reserves managed by Cape Nature. This reserve is a firm favourite for hikers, cyclists and bird and whale watchers. At 34 000ha there is plenty of space to experience nature at its fullest. De Hoop is famous for it being home to one of South Africa’s best hiking trails – the Whale Trail. The trail covers both a mountain and coastal route offering hikers spectacular views and ample opportunities for whale watching.
This nature reserve is a World Heritage Site and is a key conservation area. There is a marine reserve where Southern Right whales come every year to breed. Home to some of the most rare shrubs and plants species, some not even classified yet, De Hoop is definitely worth a visit when touring the Overberg.
BONTEBOK NATIONAL PARK (Swellendam)
As part of the South African National Parks (SANParks), the Bontebok National Park was proclaimed originally to save the graceful namesake antelope from extinction. With careful conservation methods the Bontebok have increased in numbers over the years making it a great conservation story. Located just outside the historic town of Swellendam, the national park has plenty to offer visitors. It is not only the pretty Bontebok which roam this park, but many other animals including the bat-eared fox and with over 200 species of birdlife, the park is popular with birdwatchers too.
GROOTVADERSBOSCH NATURE RESERVE (Heidelberg)
Grootvadersbosch, originally known as Melkhoutskraal, covers 250ha of indigenous forest close to Heidelberg. This has only been a reserve since 1986, with 2004 seeing it as a world heritage site. This stretch of Afromontane forest holds nearly all of the distinctive forest tree species including stinkwood and yellowwood. This nature reserve is popular with day visitors and mountain bikers with bushbuck making regular appearances. It is however the startling emperor butterfly that visitors keep a lookout for as they are said to be found in here.
GAMKASKLOOF / SWARTBERG NATURE RESERVE (Karoo)
A small valley in the Swartberg range opens up to Gamkaskloof which is better known as “Die Hel / The Hell”. There was no road access into Gamkaskloof until the 1960’s with only the essentials being carried in via donkeys from the nearby Prince Albert. The area today has been incorporated into the Swartberg Nature Reserve and is entered into from the Swartberg Pass approximately 18km from Prince Albert.
It is preferable to have a 4x4 vehicle in these parts as the sand roads can sometimes be in a bad state especially after heavy rains. The animal and bird life is prolific here with klipspringer, kudu, grey rhebuck and caracal roaming the area. There are more than 130 bird species recorded including various eagle species. The vegetation is diverse and ranges from renosterveld to mountain fynbos.
Along the southern coastline of the Garden Route lies one of the most precious forests of the country. Three ecosystems joined together forming the Garden Route National Park. Indigenous forest, diverse fynbos and a medley of land- and seascapes form this magnificent park.
Managed by South African National Parks, the Garden Route National Park has a variety of accommodation options and interesting activities on offer. The Tsitsikamma section incorporates approximately 80km of rocky coastline and sheltered valleys. The Knysna section includes its lakes whilst the Wilderness section, the Ebb and Flow rest camp and the Serpentine River. The Garden Route National Park includes the world famous Otter Trail – a five day hike along the coast within the park.
ROBBERG NATURE RESERVE (Plettenberg Bay)
Robberg is situated just outside of Plettenberg Bay within the Garden Route. Being a nature reserve as well as a national monument with rock structures dating back 120 million years, Robberg is a popular area for walking and hiking. Visitors to Robberg can find out more about the ancient rocks and Stone Age inhabitants at the Nelson Bay Cave Interpretive Centre.
Robberg is testament to all that is natural and beautiful along the Garden Route including the rare blue duiker, the Western Cape’s smallest antelope. The nature reserve extends approximately 1.8km offshore protecting a range of fish species. Views from the top extend over the bay where one can see the colony of over 2 000 Cape Fur Seals.
KEURBOOMS RIVER NATURE RESERVE (Plettenberg Bay surrounds)
This is a small 740ha reserve which has the Keurbooms River running through it, opening from a superb estuary and into the ocean. Keurbooms River Nature Reserve is very popular during holiday season with both local and outside travelers. The river gorge, the kloofs and indigenous forests bring something unique to the area that keeps visitors returning each year.
The reserve is a sanctuary for indigenous trees including stunning Outeniqua yellowwoods, coupled with an amazing plant life which can be explored on foot, in a boat or on a canoe trail. Keurbooms Nature Reserve is a bird watchers paradise with the Knysna Loerie and giant Kingfisher being spotted here.
BAVIAANSKLOOF NATURE RESERVE (just west of Port Elizabeth)
Approximately 270 000ha of unspoiled rugged terrain is the Baviaanskloof Wilderness - declared a World Heritage Site in 2004. The nature reserve offers endless eco-recreational activities in a distinctive wilderness location. With mountains and valley, Baviaanskloof is definitely a hit with mountain bikers who want to push their limits. Other activities include rock climbing, bird watching and hiking.
Mountain fynbos and herds of Mountain Zebra and buck encompass the area, along with great rock formations with their characteristic sandstone. Being part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve has more than 1 000 varying plant species which include that of the Protea family. The eco-system of the nature reserve is diverse with seven of the eight major natural regions represented here.
Accommodation is offered serving dinner, bed and breakfast. Day and overnight trips are accessible to visitors staying at certain venues within the Baviaanskloof.