KOGELBERG, WESTERN CAPE:    UNESCO designated biosphere reserve – Dr Dawn Gould

This large area of land and marine resources, stretches from Gordon’s Bay to Bot River also includes parts of agricultural Elgin and Grabouw.  It is very much a place for people to enjoy all that it has to offer. It is an unbelievably beautiful area as one views and observes the  mountains, the Atlantic Sea  the magnificent plant life, part of the Cape Floral Kingdom – “the smallest but richest of the World’s six Floral Kingdoms.”  Adjectival reaction describing what the eye sees is not unusual along this route.

Leaving the town of Gordon’s Bay along Clarence Drive, a motor way clinging to the mountain side with the sea far below one stops at Rooi Els (Afrikaans for Red Alder) on the eastern side of False Bay. It is one of the small villages founded in the 1930s.  One can walk along the beach to the lighthouse built in 1960. Tools and a burial site have been discovered in a cave in the Rooi Els area which suggests that its  occupation goes back to the Stone Age. A short distance on is Pringle Bay another of the 1930s villages and which has a somewhat usual naming reference. Between 1796 – 1798, after the Battle of Muizenberg during the first British Occupation of the Cape Colony, Sir Thomas Pringle, who was in charge of the naval base at Simon’s Town had the idea of building a port on the far side, which is almost opposite across the Bay at Cape Point, in order to grow and bring produce to the naval base.  The idea came to nought especially as from 1803 to1806 the Colony was governed by the Batavian republic.

In the winter period Fyn Bos will be a camera stopping time.  One cannot miss the various Proteas, most of these are not shy in showing off their large and unusual beauty.

Moving onwards one passes Still Baai/Bay which has interesting archaeological sites.  The Khoi and San people lived in the area and their early fish traps have been observed. The well known Betty’s Bay Is the next place of many oohs and aahs. The town is named, it is said, after Better Youlden daughter of one of the original developers of the area.  The Kogelberg Mountains at this point seem to be so close as one walks to spend a while visiting the Harold Porter National Botanic Garden and, if possible, one of the land based African Penguin colonies.

Next along the way is Kleinmond with an attractive lagoon fed by a small stream, Klein River. In earlier days inland farmers would make a journey for a holiday at the sea.  An unusual tree is the Preek Boom ( preachers tree) a place where church members would meet in the 1900s. It is an attractive holiday spot, and a growing town with various facilities.  Anglers fish off the rocks and river rafting in the Palmiet River has become popular.  The river’s name Palmiet comes from the plant Pronium serratum.

A short distance further on one will reach the the Bot River lagoon.  It is in the surrounding marsh lands  that locals or visitors may come across groups of wild horses.  Also it is around this time (winter) that the southern right whales begin making their journey along this coastline. The southern right whale is the one most easily seen but at times the brydes and humpback whales may also make an appearance. They are there to mate, give birth before returning towards the Antartic.