Tag Archives: nature reserve

Soaking up some Sun in Rooi Els and Pringle Bay (2020-02-08) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 29 FEB 2020

I am doing a lot of walking these days, primarily because I enjoy it but also to try and at least somewhat counteract the insane amount of time I spend sitting in a chair behind a screen thanks to my chosen profession of software development. Of course it doesn’t help that I work from home either.

Unfortunately, I seem to be the only person in our house that loves heading out for random strolls, so pretty much the only way that I can get any of my girls to join me is by means of a treat bribe – which then is exactly how I got Emily and Jessica to join me for a morning walkabout in Rooi-Els at the start of February.

So off we headed on a bright and sunny Saturday morning, leisurely winding our way along the jaw-droppingly scenic Clarence Drive until we dropped down into Rooi-Els, grabbed a parking in front of the newly built (beautiful interior, but terribly named) Gossip Corner restaurant and strolled off down the road.

The dirt roads of Rooi-Els, its diminutive stature, and its proximity to mountains, fynbos and sea, all combine to make for the perfect morning walk location, and so the girls and I happily trudged around, discussing all the houses hiding among the bushes, taking in the fynbos, and enjoying all that fresh sea air.

Disappointingly we didn’t run into the local baboon troop (like we did last time), but secretly I suspect that Jessica was RATHER pleased about that. I did however quite enjoy taking the photo directly above this text, which very much looks like a lizard about to catch a fly. Thank you random passing by bird for making this image possible!

Rooi-Els done and dusted, it was now time for aforementioned reward, and so off we drove to Pringle Bay, where after a quick spot of lizard watching and yet more photos of rock and sea (before being shouted at to hurry on up), I treated the girls to Belgian waffles, ice cream, milkshakes and tea at our new small town favourite, La Galerie. (As expected, it was delicious!)

From there it was the drive home back along stunning old Clarence Drive, though I did make sure to stop at the Shark Spotters hut above Kogel Bay to show the girls what this excellent initiative does, as well as to take the opportunity to watch the surfers and bodyboarders having a ball in the waves down below.

So a perfect morning/afternoon out and about in yet another one of South Africa’s seemingly endless spots of natural beauty. (And yes, the girls made us take selfies!)

Antelope Spotting at Bontebok National Park in Swellendam (2019-09-27) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 29 DEC 2019

Bontebok National Park is an unusual SANParks site in that it is a species-specific national park, originally established in 1931 to try and ensure the survival of the relatively rare Bontebok antelope. In this they succeeded and today the park is home to around 200 Bontebok, the maximum amount of antelope a park of this size can support.

Situated 6 km south of Swellendam in the foothills of the Langeberg Mountains and bordered to the south by the mighty Breede River, the Bontebok National Park is the smallest of South Africa’s 19 national parks, covering an area of about 27 km².

In addition to Bontebok, the park is also home to Cape Mountain Zebra, Grey Rhebok, Cape Grysbok, Duiker, Red Hartebeest and the African clawless otter. Bird species thrive, with over 200 different types recorded, including Stanley’s bustard, Secretary birds and Blue Cranes (South Africa’s national bird).

The park also serves as a protected area for the conservation of coastal renosterveld and other endangered fynbos veld types, with a total of nearly 500 grasses and other plant species on the books. Home to some of the largest remaining ‘renosterveld islands’, the park also contains several plant species that are found nowhere else in the world.

With no large predators prowling the grounds, this park is open for self-guided drives, hiking, picnics, fishing and all manner of other outdoor recreational activities, and with both camping and accommodation options available (at the Lang Elsie’s Kraal Rest Camp), the park welcomes both day and overnight visitors.

September saw Jessica and Emily join me for a little long weekend up in Mossel Bay, and on the way up I decided to take the opportunity to swing left and first head off for a spot of Bontebok spotting – marking the first time that I had actually ever visited this particular park.

(We were successful in our antelope spying mission and in the end, despite the heat, enjoyed a lovely drive and stroll around the area.)

Much like the West Coast National Park, the Bontebok National Park is certainly not the most thrilling of national parks to visit (unless of course you are REALLY into birding), but if you are looking for veld, wide open space to enjoy, and the tranquility that comes with all of that, then this site certainly ticks all the right boxes!

A Stroll through Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch (2019-03-31) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 25 OCT 2019

I’m quite fond of the extremely accessible Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch. Situated within the town itself, the park is compact, has well marked out paths, gives gorgeous distant views of the Stellenbosch mountains, and really is a breath of fresh air and tranquility for any nature lovers out there.

This particular trip to Jan Marais saw me riding solo, with Chantelle busy with cakes/and or relaxing on the couch, and neither of my girls wishing to abandon playing with their friends in order to join me for a healthy walk. Not that this bothered me in the slightest though – the perfect opportunity then to take my time, first stopping to do some plane spotting at the Stellenbosch Flying Club, then tracking down the sports club and Danie ‘Doc’ Craven bronze statue that I remembered from my twenties, before finally setting out to explore the little nature reserve at my own gentle pace.

There is public art to behold, renosterveld fynbos to experience, a kids play area (which for a change I didn’t have to stop at), an outdoor gym for the eager beavers, enough space for both cyclists and walkers to enjoy at the same time, and it always makes for a great photo walk.

Perfect really.

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Birding on Intaka Island in Century City, Cape Town (2018-11-04) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 23 JUL 2019

You will discover Intaka Island about 7 km out from the Cape Town CBD, tucked away behind the tall buildings of Century City and its Canal Walk shopping mall. Built by Century City developer Rabie following an initial project environmental impact assessment, Intaka Island is a 16 hectare large wetland conservation area.

As such, it serves as a crucial bird sanctuary for the area and the nature reserve itself is setup around this idea, filled with a well maintained walkway that features plenty of hides and viewing platforms that are perfect for local birders. It’s a great way to step into a little nature without having to go out on a full blown hike!

This particular visit saw me leave Chantelle and the girls behind and instead ring up my brother to join me for a stroll among the reeds. Pleasingly, he agreed – and didn’t even moan at all the pictures I kept stopping to take! ;)

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Hiking up the Hill at the Tygerberg Nature Reserve in Bellville (2018-04-29) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 30 APR 2019

Bellville’s 300 hectare large nature reserve in the form of Tygerberg Nature Reserve offers a great opportunity for locals to stretch their legs in nature without really having to go anywhere. And while it may not be a mountain, Tygerberg Hill still rises high enough to give you a great view of Cape Town, the mountain and its suburbs.

Home to around 500 different plant species, a large number of birds and a couple of small animals to be spotted, Tygerberg Hill also serves as a popular environmental education hub for local school excursions.

There are quite a couple of short trails that criss-cross all over the reserve, meaning that in theory you can put together just about any walk to suit your needs. The hill also has a trail accessible by wheelchairs, as well as a couple of simple picnic spots dotted around.

Last year Ryan, Chantelle and I went for a nice and sweaty stroll around the hill, and these are the pictures that I ended up with. (Always a good excuse for micro stopping when the going gets tough!)

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Hiking and Picnics at the Helderberg Nature Reserve in Somerset West (2017-10-21) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 25 MAR 2019

At the top of Somerset West, situated on the slopes of the Hottentots Holland Mountains, and overlooking False Bay, you’ll find the Helderberg Nature Reserve, a City of Cape Town owned and managed nature reserve.

Pushed by the Rotary Club of Somerset West, the Helderberg Nature Reserve was proclaimed as a wildflower garden (and to protect water resources in Somerset West) in 1960, but over time morphed into a proper nature reserve with the now 402-hectare reserve protecting a swathe of Swartland shale renosterveld, Kogelberg sandstone fynbos, Cape Winelands shale fynbos and Southern afro-temperate forest pockets.

The lower reaches of the park is home to large lawns, popular with families for the hosting of picnics, birthday parties and the occasional music concert, as well a small coffee shop and the Maskew Miller Educational/Visitors Centre.

Then there are of course all the walking and hiking paths scattered around the reserve, catering to nature lovers of all fitness levels. So as you would expect, there are plenty of beautiful examples of fynbos flowers to admire and even more superb views to take in – unless of course your children have pinned you down to the lawns and you’ve been forced to nap in the shade of one of the many massive trees overlooking the picnic space.

A terrible proposition, I know… ;)

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Making Our Way up Tygerberg Hill in the Tygerberg Nature Reserve, Bellville (2018-05-06) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 07 FEB 2019

If you feel like a good walk but don’t necessarily feel like tackling a proper mountain, you could always opt for the Tygerberg Nature Reserve, i.e. head out for a walk up Tygerberg Hills.

The nature reserve itself is 300 hectare in size and is situated in Bellville, i.e. the northern suburbs of Cape Town. The reserve is home to the highly threatened Swartland Shale Renosterveld vegetation type, which in turn houses nearly five hundred different plant species. There are also a large number of bird species and small animals to seen, as well as the Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre with its library and resource centre. (The nature reserve is popular venue for school excursions and education programmes).

And then of course there is the additional perk of having an excellent view no matter which direction you look!

As for Chantelle, Ryan and myself though? We were just there for the long, sweaty hot walk.

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Bonus Fact: Swartland Shale Renosterveld is usually punctuated with a lot of large termite mounds, which all work together to create light ‘spots’ in the vegetation when looked at from afar. These ‘spots’ are in fact behind the name of Tygerberg – tiger mountain – because at that point in time, people in the Cape assumed tigers had spots.

Related Link: Tygerberg Nature Reserve | Tygerberg Hills | Bellville

Art and Veld in the Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch (2018-03-25) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 25 JAN 2019

I always love paying a visit to the awesome, beautifully compact, Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch (about which I have written before). It is literally the perfect spot to stretch your legs and take in some fresh air without actually having to leave the bustle of the town behind.

Easy, wide paths to stroll around on, loads of interesting fynbos to take in, a scattering of art installations to admire or invoke conversation about, a small kids play area, an outdoor gym area, and the occasional tortoise or two.

Seriously, what is there not to love about this spot that finds itself smack bang in the middle of Stellenbosch itself?

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(Bonus: The slide at the end was a bit of an epic fail. Emily raced over to it, climbed to the top and then slid down, only to emerge crying her head off. Turns out the slide was home to a huge puddle of water at the bottom – which she had only noticed once she hit it. Absolutely soaked. All I can say is it was super lucky that Chantelle was with us for a change – mommy’s love was DESPERATELY needed! :D)

Related Link: Jan Marais Nature Reserve | Stellenbosch

The Cape Recife Lighthouse and Nature Reserve in Port Elizabeth (2017-07-08) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 28 FEB 2018

Built way back in 1851, the Cape Recife Lighthouse was originally established to warn passing ships of the dangerous Thunderbolt Reef (named for the HMS Thunderbolt, a British Royal Navy Sail and Paddle Frigate that wrecked at Cape Recife in 1847), a job the venerable (albeit upgraded) lighthouse still admirably performs to this very day.

In 1973, a surrounding 366 hectare large area was proclaimed as the Cape Recife Nature Reserve, thereby transforming Cape Recife into a protected sanctuary for the Summerstrand region’s coastal and marine ecosystems to thrive within.

These days, in addition to the walking routes, countless unspoiled beaches, picnic areas, and accessible to the public lighthouse, the Cape Recife Nature Reserve is also home to the Port Elizabeth branch of SANCCOB (otherwise known as SAMREC), which provides rehabilitation and care facilities for many of the regions coastal bird species.

Seeing how I rather enjoy visiting lighthouses and was after all now in the area (as part of our June 2017 Holiday Adventure), I dragged everyone over to the nature reserve (most who were visiting it for the very first time), where after securing our entry permits, we enjoyed a rather tranquil stroll around the area.

Well not the kids mind you. They were far too busy chasing up and down the sand dunes like energetic little bunnies of course!

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Extra: On exiting the nature reserve our initial route to the Grass Roof Farm Stall for a spot of lunch and play was blocked by a rather angry veld fire. Apparently, thanks to the dry seasons Port Elizabeth is also experiencing, wild fires like this is now pretty much a daily occurrence now…

Related Link: Cape Recife Lighthouse | Cape Recife Nature Reserve | Port Elizabeth | #JuneHolidays2017