Kogelberg Nature Reserve – world’s greatest biodiversity hot-spot?
Just outside Kleinmond, about an hours drive from Cape Town, is the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. Lying within the southern stretch of the Hottentots Holland mountain range, this reserve has remained secluded and unspoilt. With high mountain summits, sharp kloofs, valleys and numerous tributaries of the beautiful Palmiet River, the Kogelberg Nature Reserve will enthrall even the most intrepid traveller with its remote wilderness.
Home to over 1654 plant species, the Kogelberg Reserve is a visual delight that will appeal to both nature lovers and history lovers alike. Boasting one of the best examples of mountain Fynbos in the Western Cape, this reserve has many members of the Protea family, which include the endangered rose marsh …This plant, once on the brink of extinction, is now known to grow on a few inaccessible peaks. Not only is Fynbos abundant but the Kogelberg Nature Reserve is also home to indigenous trees which include Yellowwood, Stinkwood and Boekenhout. On top of this, Wild Almonds, Rooiels and Cape Beech grow along the Palmiet River.
Kogelberg is also home to the Cape clawless otter, small antelopes, baboons, dassies and hares. Bird lovers should watch out for Peregrine falcons, black eagles and fish eagles which hunt and nest in and around the Reserve. If you’re lucky you might even spot a leopard or two. For those interested in history, a herd of wild horses which were abandoned by a British garrison after the Anglo-Boer War wander the flats of the Bot River estuary.
Kogelberg offers many activities, such as hiking, biking and bird watching. There are numerous hiking trails, of which, four of the best start from Oudebosch (near Kleinmond) and vary from easy three hour hikes to harder full day hikes. The reserve also offers two mountain biking routes. The harder of the two is The Kogelberg route which is 39km long and can take up to five hours of difficult riding. The Palmiet trail is a lesser distance of 26km which can also take about five hours and is graded as being only moderately hard.
White water rafting on the Palmiet River is one of the most popular activities in the reserve. Flowing through the Fynbos covered mountains of the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, this river is both a friendly stream in summer as well as a tumbling rapid in winter. During winter, when water levels are medium to high, the Palmiet River is perfect for exhilarating white water rafting which can be done in two person inflatable “crocodiles” or four person rafts.
If you prefer something a little less exciting, the low water levels of summer are perfect for a lazy drift down the river. Canoeing is also a firm favourite with a trail covering 15km. There are many tour and adventure groups which incorporate both white water rafting and canoeing in their packages. (Try Gravity on telephone +27 (0)21 683-3698)
If you plan on staying a few nights, the Kogelberg Reserve offers self catering accommodation in the form of wooden cabins in the heart of the reserve. Otherwise the self catering wooden hut on the banks of the Palmiet River is an adventurer’s delight, just note that all activities should be booked in advance. If you prefer more comfortable lodgings, have a look at Kleinmond accommodation options, Pringle Bay accommodation or Bettys Bay , which also border on the Reserve and offer many other unique attractions and activities.