Tag Archives: fire damage

Traipsing about Rooi-Els Nature Reserve (2019-01-19) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 04 APR 2020

At the start of last year I managed the unusual in that on a rare weekend morning without Helderberg Cake Company orders to fulfill, I got Chantelle to agree to come out for a nature walk with me and the girls – my destination of choice being the quiet little settlement of Rooi-Els. Of course getting there means tackling all 77 potentially nausea inducing twists and turns of the extremely scenic Clarence Drive as well, something Chantelle is not overly fond of on the best of days either!

Known for its fishing and diving opportunities, not to mention the fact that it is constantly being bashed by the sea winds and raided by the local Chacma baboon troop, the mostly holiday home littered little settlement of Rooi-Els is pretty quiet, has only a handful of tarred roads, and thus very little in terms of commercial ventures. (Mind you, they do have a popular bikers’ pub and two rather nice restaurants all of a sudden).

One of its claims to fame is that Rooi-Els falls within the vaunted Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, the 100,000 hectare UNESCO designated area whose landscape is home to one of the most complex biodiversity regions on our planet – featuring more than 1,880 different plant species, 77 of which occur nowhere else on earth. This sweeping sea of fynbos and mountains is home to a variety of animal species like leopard, caracal, baboon and antelope, as well a particularly rich selection of bird life.

As a conservancy, there are no fences around Rooi-Els to keep people out or nature in – instead it is the commitment of the local communities, farmers, conservation agencies and local government to protect and nurture the land and its biodiversity.

(For reference, the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, which interestingly enough was South Africa’s first ever registered biosphere reserve, encompasses the entire area from Gordon’s Bay to the Bot River Statuary and inland to Grabouw and the Groenland Mountain.)

As for our little excursion, we found ourselves first picking our way through the fynbos over the small picturesque area marked as the Rooi-Els Nature Reserve, before extending our trip with a drive out to Betty’s Bay in order to take in the devastation of the recent fires that had ripped through the town, devouring anything and everything in its path, after which we turned back and stopped for some coffee and a light lunch at Pringle Bay’s always pleasant Bistro 365 & Simple Coffee eatery.

So a proper mix of an excursion then. The tranquil quiet beauty of nature in the fynbos rich area of Rooi-Els, the sobering reality of the fire risk that comes from living so close to the mountain in Betty’s Bay, and then the mad vibe of people enjoying the weeked at a bustling Pringle Bay town center.

Fire Damage, Plankies, and Lunch at 365 Bistro & Simply Coffee in Pringle Bay (2017-02-25) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 02 AUG 2017

Earlier this year, the area surrounding Pringle Bay (a small coastal town along the Hangklip Coast, between Betty’s Bay and Rooi Els) was ravaged by a massive veld fire.

Although fires are commonplace here in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve area, this one was particularly bad thanks to immensely strong winds that fanned the flames all the way to the doorstep of Pringle Bay, taking out a couple of the boundary houses in the process, and burning literally on the doorstep of Chantelle’s aunt and uncle’s home.

(Apparently, it was only through a freak change of wind direction at the very last second that the town of Pringle Bay actually emerged relatively unscathed from this inferno.)

A couple of days after this disaster, Chantelle and I decided to take a scenic drive out along the picturesque Clarence Drive, and along the way decided to drop in on Pringle Bay to survey the damage.

The devastation was eye-opening. Many of the surrounding hill faces were now completely reduced to sand and stone, with only the blackened remains of bushes poking out here and there, the result being an eerie, almost alien landscape left to drive through.

Amazingly, despite the scale and proximity of the fire, it appeared that less than a handful of homes were actually razed, quite astonishing considering that some of the open plots sitting right in between the houses were burnt!

Making our way back to the center of the town, we decided to do a little exploring and head out towards Hangklip, seeing as it was a road that neither of us had actually ever driven before.

We ended up following the bad gravel road all the way to the (rather dilapidated, though some would say charming) Hangklip Hotel, turning around at its famous Plankies pub next door – all whilst under the watchful eye of a local baboon who was busy tucking into the leftovers of what had very obviously been quite the party the previous evening.

Back in Pringle Bay proper, we strolled around some of the lovely little establishments that seem to be popping up all over the town these days, before settling in at Simply Coffee, the coffee shop section of the super popular Bistro 365 & Simply Coffee restaurant hub.

And I’m rather pleased that we did. The food – and beer – was particularly excellent!

(Apparently the coffee shop runs during the day, before closing for the evening when the upstairs Bistro tweaks the menu and takes over).

Surprisingly enough, I didn’t nearly take as many photos on the day as what I normally would do – so all the more reason to visit again I guess…

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Not bad for an impromptu afternoon’s exploring then.

P.S. Clarence Drive alone is ALWAYS worth the drive!

Related Link: Bistro 365 & Simply Coffee | Pringle Bay | Hangklip Hotel