Tag Archives: fire devastation

A Morning Drive through Rooi-Els (2017-05-06) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 14 OCT 2017

Penguins and Kleinmond were on my agenda with the girls one Saturday back in May, but following the always delightful drive along Clarence Drive (with all of its 77 bends), I decided to first hang a right and slowly cruise through Rooi Els, a little seaside holiday escape that I haven’t actually properly visited since my twenties.

Rooi-Els is known for its fishing and diving opportunities, not to mention the fact that it is forever being bashed by the wind and raided by the local baboon troop.

It consists for the most part of holiday homes, meaning this small hamlet is often pretty quiet, has only a few tarred roads, and thus little in the form of commercial ventures.

Rooiels is of course a part of the vaunted Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve,  the 100,000 hectare UNESCO designated area whose landscape is home to perhaps 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 fynbos haven (sometimes referred to locally as the ‘heart of fynbos’) is also home to a wide variety of animal species like leopard, caracal, baboon, antelope and a particularly rich selection of birds.

Biosphere reserves are different from ordinary conservation areas in that these reserves have no fences to keep ‘people’ out and ‘nature’ in – instead it is the commitment of 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.)

Of course, being that close to this particular type of vegetation does comes with a big risk – large mountain/vegetation fires are the norm, and because of this the area (and its towns) often bear the scars associated with these all too frequent blazing infernos.

Anyway, having enjoyed our scenic little jaunt, the girls insisted that I refocus on the mission at hand – visiting the Stony Point penguins of Betty’s Bay!

(Bonus: the Rooi Els area is super popular with local birders – here are two fantastic blog posts from Bryn De Kocks and Mike Buckham to illustrate just why that is so).

Related Link: Rooi-Els

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…

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