Fernkloof Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Fernkloof Nature Reserve lies in the Kleinrivier Mountains above Hermanus with some pretty choice views over the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and Walker Bay. The close on 2 000 hectare reserve protects the priceless and unique coastal fynbos and a small patch of evergreen forest that combine to provide 60 kilometres of walking trails.
Fernkloof Nature Reserve has identified 1600 species of vegetation - nowhere else on the planet are so many different species found growing so close to one another - and one can view them in the Hermanus Herbarium at Fernkloof, which has achieved international status. Housed in this herbarium are more plant species than those found in the entire United Kingdom. Viewed through this lens, one can understand the implications of such a collection.
Fernkloof also has a selection of some of the biggest carnivorous plants in the world, such as the Roridula, which grows taller than the average man; its leaves coated in hairs that produce sticky blobs to trap its victims. It goes without saying that such an incredible array of plants would entice a matching abundance of bird life, and this small reserve is home to over 90 recorded species that include the Cape sugar bird, sunbirds and a fair number of insect and seed eating birds, such as flycatchers and canaries.
The reserve is best visited during the flowering season, in spring, more or less when the whales are in town, although you risk that things both in the reserve and in the valley below will be fairly busy. There is a wild flower show that happens together with the Whale Festival. But at other times of the year, the beautiful reserve is a wonderful spot for picnics and gentle walks.
Fernkloof Nature Reserve