Tag Archives: rooi els

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.

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!)

Lizards and Baboons in Rooi Els (2019-07-13) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 NOV 2019

Having just taken possession of my new car, I immediately took it out for a run along the achingly scenic Clarence Drive (as one should), in the process dragging Jessica along to join me for the drive and a bit of a stroll around Rooi Els and Pringle Bay – in return for something sweet of course!

As I mentioned, our first stop was the charmingly rustic Rooi Els with its single shop, pub and restaurant, where we enjoyed a gentle stroll along its dirt roads, taking in the sights, breathing in the fresh air, chasing butterflies, admiring the fynbos, and of course dodging the local troop of baboons.

Highly entertaining (though to be fair, a little terrifying for Jessica), if of course you aren’t actually carrying any food on you. If I was, I probably wouldn’t be so cavalier about getting this close to these furry more often than not pests.

(The babies riding on their mom were admittedly very cute though!)

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!

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(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

Things to See in South Africa: Clarence Drive (2015-05-03) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 29 MAY 2015

Without a doubt one of the most beautiful stretches of road in South Africa is Clarence Drive (also known as the R44), a 22 km long scenic coastal drive between the windswept hamlet of Rooi Els and the naval town of Gordons Bay, which nestles in the north-eastern crook of False Bay in the shadow of the Hottentots Hollands mountains.

Clarence Drive was named after Jack Clarence who was responsible for replacing the footpath between Gordon’s Bay and Rooi Els with a proper road in order to service the radar stations at Stony Point (Betty’s Bay) and at Hangklip. It was built with the help of Italian POWs during WW2 and stretches all the way from Gordons’s Bay into Kleinmond and the heart of the Kogelberg Biosphere.

(From Cape Town’s side, the route takes you through Gordon’s Bay, Rooi Els, Pringle Bay, Hangklip, Betty’s Bay and finally Kleinmond)

There are 2 stone cairns erected on the side of the road at different points. One is in honour of Jack Clarence and the other is to commemorate the modernisation and upgrading of the road in 1998. The 1998 upgrade has created a well finished, safe road dotted with loads of viewpoints to stop to enjoy the marvelous views over the dramatic scenery of towering mountains meeting the rugged coastline.

The whole coast belongs to the Kogelberg Biosphere reserve, a part of the Cape Floral Kingdom which is the most species dense of all the world’s Plant Kingdoms. With about one thousand six hundred plant species found in barely ten square miles, the area that Clarence Drive passes through contains a floral diversity per unit area that is one of the highest on the planet.

The area is also home to a vast array of wildlife including Cape Leopards, African Weasels, African Wild Cats, Caracals (African Lynxes), Small and Large-Spotted Genets, Cape Foxes, Aardwolfs, Baboons, Cape Clawless Otters, Water Mongooses, Small and Large Grey Mongooses, Striped Polecats, Honey Badgers, Porcupines, Rock Hyraxes, Red Rock Rabbits, Cape and Scrub Hares, Klipspringers, Cape Grysboks, Common Duikers, Grey Rhebucks, and even Bushbucks.

The drive is also the beginning of ‘The Whale Coast’, which is generally regarded as one of the best places in the world to view whales from shore.

Of course, Clarence Drive does hold a particularly special place in my heart as well.

After all, this is the exact spot where I stopped, got down on one knee and asked Chantelle to marry me – in the process making the 6th of December 2008 one of the best days of my life! :)

Related Link: Gordon’s Bay | Rooi Els | Pringle Bay | Betty’s Bay