Congratulations to Deidre and Lara Strydom, Xplorio Gansbaai’s first ever competition winners.
Many of those who travel and even live in the Overberg do so due to the exquisite biodiversity that is found here. With a wide variety of both endemic fauna and flora protected within a multitude of marine and nature reserves, this region is a favourite amongst bird- and nature-lovers alike.
One of the favourite destinations within the Cape Floral Kingdom is the Kogelberg Nature Reserve located near Kleinmond. So here are 5 things to keep an eye out for when visiting this natural paradise:
Covering an impressive 18,000 hectares, reaching from just behind Gordon’s Bay all the way around the Cape Whale Coast Route and over the mountain to Kleinmond, the reserve holds some of the finest mountain fynbos found in the country. In its entirety, Kogelberg includes around 1,800 different plant species of which many are rare species only found here, like the endangered Marsh Rose.
When visiting the reserve, be sure to pack in your guide book and see how many of the species you can identify. Also be sure to stick to the paths so as not to trample or harm any of the rare species found here.
The Kogelberg Nature Nature Reserve falls within the Cape Floral KIngdom which holds an astouding diversity of plant species, mostly Fynbos
The Palmiet River
With its origin high up in the Hottentots Holland mountain range, the river forks off towards Grabouw and Kleinmond. In the case of the Kleinmond branch, it meanders through the Kogelberg Nature Reserve and into the Kleinmond Lagoon before meeting the ocean. The tannin-rich waters serves as a source of nutrients for the area’s vegetation. It’s also a great way to cool your heels after hiking through the area as well as serving (surfing) up thrilling white water rafting opportunities after the heavy winter rains.
When visiting the reserve, keep an ear out for the calming ebb and flow of the river as it is a great meeting place for explorers and the occasional critter looking for a cool drink. Be sure not to throw anything into the river as it might be consumed by wildlife or later end up in the Lagoon or ocean.
Palmiet River throwing through Kogelberg Nature Reserve (Image: CapeNature Facebook page)
The Hiking Trails
The Kogelberg Nature Reserve holds a surprising amount of different hiking trails that cater for novice to pro hikers. Those looking to spend more time taking in the scenery can opt for an easier 3-hour walk while those looking for a challenge can take on one of the more strenuous 2-day overnight hikes. The various routes that snake through the landscape can either take you along the Palmiet River, lead you into the afromontane fynbos found in the valleys or you can trek up the mountain for breath-taking views over the area and towns below.
When visiting the reserve, be sure to keep to the trails so as not to get lost or have a close encounter with the wildlife. It is also a good idea to hike with a companion or in a small group just in case.
Explore the reserve via the various hiking trails
Falling under the protection of CapeNature, the whole area remains mostly untouched by humans except for the odd group of tourists or locals hiking through it. And as such serves as an excellent home to a variety of bird- and wildlife. The vegetation here is also home to a colourful collection of endemic birds like the often spotted Sun- and Sugarbirds as well as the larger Peregrine Falcon, Black Eagle and Fish Eagle. The diverse landscape also offers the ideal habitat for dassies (Rock Hyrax), hares, baboons and the larger Grysbok and Klipspringer as well as the rarely spotted Cape Leopard. The presence of the river on the other hand makes a great home for the Cape Clawless Otter and more unique species like the Freshwater Crab and even the endangered Micro-Frog.
When visiting the reserve, keep an eye out for footprints in the soil and take some time to quietly rest as you might just spot some incredible species. Also be sure to not approach any of these animals too closely, for your safety as well as theirs.
Keep an eye out for the various species of wildlife found in the area
The Mountain Bike Trails
Kogelberg not only offers stunning scenery and an abundance of fauna and flora to be viewed, but also an exciting challenge for those who like to peddle hard. The rugged terrain of the area offers up two scenic mountain bike trails, namely the Palmiet River Valley MTB Route and the Kogelberg MTB Route. The former is a 22km long route which follows along the river and takes roughly 2 to 4 hours to complete. The latter is suggested for more skilled riders as it takes you along a route through jeep track, thick bush, sand and rocks. This route spans over 39km and takes about 5 hours to complete.
When visiting the reserve, be sure to check in at the information office as you will need to obtain a permit. Remember that Kogelberg is a World Heritage Site, so do be careful to stick to the routes so as not to trample any of the vegetation and minimize soil erosion.
Tackle the terrain with the Kogelberg MTB Trails
With so much to experience and appreciate we would suggest you spend a full day exploring or even spoil yourself to a stay in the cosy cottages available. Contact CapeNature or the information office for a getaway in this bio-paradise!
Oudebosch Cottages in Kogelberg Nature Reserve (Image: CapeNature Facebook page)
We hope you found our list helpful and would love to hear about your experiences at Kogelberg Nature Reserve. Please share your photos and stories with us at firstname.lastname@example.org