Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Set in a part of the country known as the arid Robertson Karoo, the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve lies in the Breede River Valley, roughly 15 kilometres south of Robertson on the road to McGregor. Given the name of the nature reserve - Vrolijkheid means happiness - this must have been the site of much gaiety in the past, and it certainly remains the focus of pleasure in the heart of the Little Karoo, where it gives much pleasure to visitors - the beauty of the landscape dominated by succulents, dwarf trees and shrubs like the melkbos.
The valley is surrounded by high mountain peaks, often shrouded in mist, which makes hiking, walking or just general rambles through the rugged landscape a favourite pastime for all who come here. A circular hike, known as the Rooikat Trail, meanders up around the Elandsberg Mountains and can take up to eight hours, whilst an even more popular, but strenuous, McGregor-Greyton overnight hike, known as Boesmanskloof Trail, also winds through the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve.
The interpretation centre, close to the entrance of the Vrolijkheid Reserve, is accommodated in a former labourers cottage and worth an initial visit as it explains the area, its flora and fauna in some detail. Even if youre only venturing forth for the day, the nature reserve has lovely picnic spots, and the views alone are enchanting. Over 175 bird species have been recorded here, including the African fish eagle, and there is also the opportunity to fish for bass in a dam within the reserve. Vrolijkheid is home to klipspringer, grey rhebuck, grysbok and springbok and even the caracal or rooikat (red cat) makes the odd appearance.
Contact Cape Nature on Telephone +27 (0)21 659-3500.