Western Cape Tourist AttractionsVermont Salt Pan
Hermanus lies nestled between the mountain to the north and the sea to the south, hugging the coast for about 20 km. It is a popular tourist destination famous for whale watching, its outdoor lifestyle and the surrounding fynbos.
Vermont, a suburb of Hermanus, lies between Hawston and Sandbaai. It was developed with twenty percent of its area dedicated to retaining the original coastal fynbos, which forms natural green corridors between the homes, up the mountain and down to the sea.
These green passages not only protect fynbos. They are also home to antelope, caracal, porcupine, and even leopard. Vermont protects three fynbos subveld types – Overberg Sandstone fynbos, Hangklip Sand fynbos and Overberg Dune Strandveld. Two of these are categorised as critically endangered and endangered, which means that the green belts are high priority areas for conservation.
The Vermont Salt Pan, a part of the greenbelt system, is also classified as critically endangered. It lies in a land depression of just over 17 hectares with a system of feeder reed-covered wetlands. Wildlife in the salt pan includes over 600 flamingos for up to six months of the year.
The pan is highly seasonal, fed by springs and rain, although it is increasingly remaining wetter for longer.
On the eastern edge of the pan is a milkwood woodland thicket. Under these trees are marine shell-midden remains - evidence of Khoi-San people who lived here two to three thousand years ago.
On the west of the pan is a small population of the endangered orchid, Disa hallackii, discovered in 2012 after clearing invasive vegetation in the area. This beautiful orchid is regarded as one of the most threatened orchid species in South Africa.
The salt pan is thus of great conservation importance, despite being threatened by development, lack of funds, invasive vegetation and the lack of any statutory conservation protection plan.
For visitors the pan is a site of tranquillity, stillness and wildlife. The bird life in particular is worthy of a visit.