If you're a resident or even an annual visitor to Gansbaai, you’ve probably noticed a tortoise or two crossing the road...
The bustling town of Hermanus is well-known for its spectacular whale watching and stunning panoramic views across Walker Bay and for this reason it has become the popular South African holiday destination that it is today. The abundance of marine life and surrounding mountains are the perfect combination for nature-lovers and city-slickers hoping to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. And luckily for all there is one place that combines exciting outdoor activities and inspiring land- and seascape vistas in one, the Fernkloof Nature Reserve.
Covering an area of almost 2000 hectares, the Fernkloof Nature Reserve includes the Mossel River and most of the scenic Cliff Path. This prized biodiversity gem of the Hermanus area was declared in 1957 and holds a wide variety of plant and animal species both rare and bizarre. The international status Herbarium on the Reserve showcases the estimated 1600 plant species found on the Reserve.
Unbeknownst to many, the Fernkloof Nature Reserve holds some of the largest carnivorous plants found in the world. Most of these plants are part of the Drosera (commonly known as Sundews) and also Roridula gorgonian. These plants excrete a sticky substance on their leaves which attracts and traps unsuspecting insects, which they digest with special enzymes. Interestingly enough, scientists found that there is a certain small insect, Pameridea miridae that lives on these carnivorous plants and feed off the bugs trapped in the plants’ sap. These small insects have been found to play a critical part in the plants’ reproduction just like these plants play an important part in the survival and housing of these tiny insects.
The Fernkloof Nature Reserve is located in the area known as the Cape Floral Kingdom and due to the plethora of plant species it in turn attracts multitudes of animal species. Baboons, Klipspringers, Mongooses, Dassies and even Grey Rhebok are often spotted in the Reserve along with night time feeders like Porcupines, Genets, Hares and Grysbok. Smaller critters like the Cape Spiny Mouse and various species of snakes, skinks and frogs also make an appearance once in a while. The illusive and very rare Cape Ghost Frog has also been known to call the Reserve home.
The splendour of the diverse species and breath-taking natural beauty of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve can be enjoyed and appreciated in various ways and visitors are always welcome. Activities on the Reserve include walking, hiking and mountain bike trails as well joining the bird club, botanical society or for the hands-on nature-lovers you can join the Hack Group in clearing alien species. Flora fanatics can also visit the Herbarium and the indigenous plant nursery.
Spectacular views over Walker Bay, great hiking trails and a unique collection of plant and wildlife all in one spot makes the Fernkloof Nature Reserve the ultimate outdoor experience for all. So be sure to explore the reserve when you visit Hermanus next – it is truly the biodiversity hub of the Whale Coast.