Grotto Bay Coastal Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Head up the West Coast from Cape Town for roughly 60 kilometres and you will find Grotto Bay Coastal Nature Reserve. It's a 500 hectare private nature reserve filled with walking trails, birds, the possibility of sighting whales, unpolluted skies and, during spring, a bevy of wild flowers.
Grotto Bay Coastal Nature Reserve is part of the far larger Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve, not much publicised but proclaimed by UNESCO all the same, that aims to make sure that any development remains ecologically sustainable and conserves the essential landscape for generations to come. Fynbos and stretches of strandveld offer shelter for a vast array of birds and local mammals such as tortoises, steenbok and the odd duiker, are easily spotted from the porch of the beach homes here. There is also an African Black Oystercatcher Conservation and Breeding programme in place.
It is also the site of not a few, but a village of large, modern holiday homes. Despite one's initial surprise, this is the practice of modern biospheres. The idea is a balance between development and the environment, rather than fencing off natural areas and allowing no development. By a combination of protection and education, both of which emphasise a move away from excessive consumption, the idea is to sustain the beauty of the coastal biosphere, alongside sustainable development.
And nothing can detract from the sheer beauty of the place. Village aside, the beach stretches on for about 15 kilometres, there are hiking trails through the reserve, no sign of traffic, street lights or shops, and the constant sound of waves breaking over boulders and against cliff faces is close to sublime. The wildness of the place and the desolation that the beauty of the place evokes remain untouched.