Rocherpan Nature Reserve

Rocherpan is a coastal nature reserve teeming with birds and colourful wildflowers.

Please note the pan is currently empty due to the dry conditions in the Western Cape

Rocherpan is a coastal nature reserve teeming with birds and colourful wildflowers. The reserve, which lies 25km north of Velddrif on the Cape West Coast, consists largely of a seasonal vlei that is usually dry between March and June. Rocherpan was established as a nature reserve (930 hectares in size) in 1966, and the adjacent section of the Atlantic Ocean was declared a marine reserve in 1988 (150 hectares in size).

Rocherpan had a fortuitous start, when farmer Pierre Rocher arrived in this area in 1839 looking for improved summer grazing for his livestock. Rocher and his workers closed off the mouth of Papkuils River, forcing it to flow behind the dunes that separate the sandveld from the sea. This inadvertently created a perfect habitat for water birds, and the local species have thrived ever since. Along the coast you’ll see the rare and endangered black oystercatcher, the kelp gull and the Cape shoveller.

Rocherpan currently has eight eco-cabins available to be booked for accommodation, with the four newest cabins having just opened. Click here to download a map of the reserve to see where the cabins, pan, beach, and hiking trails are. Please call our reservations office to make your booking.

Video by The Good Holiday

How to get there

Rocherpan lies 25 km north of Velddrif on the coastal road. Velddrif can be reached on the West Coast Road (R27), that starts in Cape Town and takes you through Milnerton before running along the coast through Bloubergstrand, Melkbosstrand and Langebaan.

GPS: 32 36 53.47 S 18 18 6.73 E

General information

Office hours: 08:00–16:30

Tel: +27 (0)79 203 1092
Emergency number: +27 (0)82 070 1873
Accommodation and permit bookings Tel: +27 (0)21 483 0190

Accommodation

Self-catering

  • Coot, Moorhen, Egret and Shoveler

    Coot, Moorhen, Egret and Shoveler are the four new double bedroom cabins available at Rocherpan Nature Reserve.

    Each cabin has a double bed, 2 single beds and a futon. Bedding and towels are provided. These cabins sleep a maximum of 5 adults or a family of six (6) given the two children are younger than 12 years of age.

    Electricity: Yes
    Bathrooms: Yes, with a solar geyser, shower and waterless toilet
    Kitchen: Gas stove, fridge, microwave, toaster, kettle, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans
    Bedding, linen and towels: Yes
    Fireplace: Closed combustion indoor fireplace and outside braai
    Universal access: Yes
    Pets welcome: No

  • Sandpiper Cottage

    Sleeping four guests comfortably on a double bed and double futon, the cottage is well-equipped with modern amenities and facilities. The private deck, overlooking the reserve, is a great place to relax. The cottage sleeps four people – two adults on a double bed and two children on a double futon.

    Electricity: Yes
    Bathroom: Shower (solar-powered geyser) and eco-friendly waterless toilet
    Kitchen: Gas stove, fridge, microwave, toaster, kettle, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans
    Bedding, linen and towels: Yes
    Fireplace: Yes, a braai grid is provided
    Disabled access: No
    Pets welcome: No

  • Oystercatcher Cottage

    Oystercatcher Cottage, sleeping up to four guests on a double bed and futon, is well-equipped for a comfortable stay with modern amenities and facilities. Keen birders will enjoy the easy access to the reserve’s bird hides and bird spotting can also be done from the comfort of the private deck overlooking the reserve. The cottage sleeps four people – two adults on a double bed and two children on a double futon.

    Electricity: Yes
    Bathroom: Shower (solar-powered geyser) and eco-friendly waterless toilet
    Kitchen: Gas stove, fridge, microwave, toaster, kettle, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans
    Bedding, linen and towels: Yes
    Fireplace: Yes, a braai grid is provided
    Disabled access: No
    Pets welcome: No

  • Kingfisher Cottage

    Equipped with all of the modern amenities needed for a comfortable stay, Kingfisher Cottage’s private deck overlooking the reserve and easy access to the bird hides will appeal to birders of all ages. The cottage sleeps four people – two adults on a double bed and two children on a double futon.

    Electricity: Yes
    Bathroom: Shower (solar-powered geyser) and eco-friendly waterless toilet
    Kitchen: Gas stove, fridge, microwave, toaster, kettle, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans
    Bedding, linen and towels: Yes
    Fireplace: Yes, a braai grid is provided
    Disabled access: No
    Pets welcome: No

  • Flamingo Cottage

    Carefully constructed to blend in with the environment and offering spacious and airy accommodation, Flamingo Cottage offers direct access to the reserve’s bird hides, as well as armchair bird watching from the deck of the cabin. All of the modern amenities needed for a comfortable stay are included. The cottage sleeps four people – two adults on a double bed and two children on a double futon.

    Electricity: Yes
    Bathroom: Shower (solar-powered geyser) and eco-friendly waterless toilet
    Kitchen: Gas stove, fridge, microwave, toaster, kettle, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans
    Bedding, linen and towels: Yes
    Fireplace: Yes, a braai grid is provided
    Disabled access: No
    Pets welcome: No

Activities

  • Whale Watching

    Southern right whales are often seen in the marine reserve and along the coast between June and November. These majestic creatures enjoy the warm water after migrating from icy Antarctica. Dolphins are also spotted from the beach.

  • Swimming

    Swimming is permitted in the ocean. No swimming in the vlei.

    There is a swimming pool next to the eco-cabins which is available to overnight guests. The surrounding area has benches and tables to relax at, while there is a children’s play area adjacent.

  • Picnicking

    Rocherpan has two picnic areas where you can relax and enjoy the area’s natural beauty. You can either picnic at the new braai area behind the bird hides or at the lookout point near the beach. Entry into the reserve is R40 per adult and R20 per child.

  • Mountain biking

    Follow Rocherpan’s jeep track for an adventurous tour of the nature reserve. Please bring your own bike, as none are available for hire from the reserve.

  • Walking and Hiking

    Walking and Hiking
    Rocherpan has two short hiking trails, one along the beach and one along the vlei. Both offer stunning views and the chance to see the area’s rich birdlife. There are two well-laid hiking paths through the reserve. Both are relatively easy walks  taking no longer than four hours each.

    Permits
    Permits may be purchased for R40 per adult and R20 per child at the reserve office or  through CapeNature Central Reservations.

    Trail preparation

    • Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat.
    • Do not hike alone.
    • Carry enough food and water with you.
    • Make sure you know what the weather conditions are before you depart.
    • Take a warm jacket/raincoat in winter.
    • Make sure you have a relevant map of the area.
    • Take a field medical kit with you for emergencies.
    • Obey all signage.
    • Stay in a group and on the trails.

    Rocherpan Trail
    Trail distance: 9km
    Estimated time: 3–4 hours return
    This is a gentle walk along the pan. The soils harden as you make your way across the reserve. Start early in summer, as the day heats up quickly.

    Beach Trail
    Trail distance: 7km
    Estimated time: 3 hours return
    This is a lovely walk to the lookout point and back along the beach. We recommend you take a picnic basket to enjoy at the point. In summer, it is best to hike early in the morning to  avoid the midday heat.

  • Birdwatching

    Rocherpan is perfect for birders. The combination of land, vlei and sea provides ample breeding and feeding habitats for a variety of birds. A total of 183 species have been recorded, of which about 70 are water birds. White pelicans and greater and lesser flamingos, all of which are endangered, are often seen at Rocherpan. Ostriches also live on the flats surrounding the vlei.

    Rocherpan is one of the Cape shoveller’s most important breeding and moulting sites. The reserve provides a sanctuary for Southern Africa’s second-rarest coastal bird, the African black oystercatcher.

    Rocherpan has three bird hides. Two are located on the South-western side of the vlei, and one is on the North-western side. Fetch a bird list and map from the reserve main office or download the bird list here.

    Rocherpan-birdwatching-October-2015-4

    Bird Hide 1

    Rocherpan-birdwatching-October-2015-3

    Bird Hide 2

    Rocherpan-birdwatching-October-2015-2

    The interior of bird hide 2

    Rocherpan-birdwatching-October-2015

    The kind of views you can expect

  • Angling

    Only shore angling is allowed within the Rocherpan marine protected area.  The reserve does not issue permits for angling. Please buy your permit at the closest post office. The angling permit must be shown at reception.

Location

Conservation

Rocherpan Nature Reserve Conservation

Two rivers, the Papkuils and the Sout, flow into the reserve. Although Rocherpan Nature Reserve was originally established because of the conservation value of this seasonal vlei and its importance for birds, the reserve also offers protection to several other species. It is one of only two locations where the critically endangered aquatic plant, the Cape horned pondweed, is known to survive.

Rocherpan is dominated by the large central vlei and a 4.7km stretch of sandy Atlantic coastline, of which the southern 3km, and the area 500m seaward is a marine protected area. It offers protection to diverse marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats.

10 Reviews

Needful Things June 2017 - Pickled Ginger, Jun 30, 2017 - Rocherpan Nature Reserve

[…] I love living in the Western Cape, we can drive 2 hours in any direction and have a totally different experience. From the (glorious!) winelands on our doorstep to beautiful coastal roads, mountain passes and arid small Karoo. You name it, we’re pretty likely to have it! The West Coast is roughly a 2-hour drive from where we live. What would be better than being holed up on the coast for a weekend? You could enjoy some red wine in front of a roaring fireplace and take in the beautiful views! It’s not badly priced at R850 per self-catering unit per night! Find out more on the Cape Nature website. […]

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Rocherpan Nature Reserve

Jawn and Jeanette Goosen, May 30, 2017 - Rocherpan Nature Reserve

We have just spent 2 nights here and we can only say good things about the place. We have never stayed in such a clean self catering bungalow - ever! The staff were very friendly and helpful. Unfortunately the pan was dry because of the drought, so there were no water birds at all. There were plenty of the normal birds one finds in the bush. The bungalow was very well positioned and the interior, well thought out. We would recommend this place to anyone wanting a quiet few days away. There is also a swimming pool and the beach and sea are not far away.

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Karlyn & Eugene Caroto, Feb 12 2017 - Rocherpan Nature Reserve

Karlyn Caroto, Mar 17, 2017 - Rocherpan Nature Reserve

Loved it!

My husband and I were looking to totally unwind. Spent the weekend at Rocherpan Nature Reserve - Oystercatcher.
It was so nice, quiet, tranquil. Good value for money. The weather was mid-twenties that weekend, so it was pleasant.

The cottage was super clean, well equipped, nice finishes, enough room for 2/3 people. The kitchen is just a little short on counter space to work....however it has all the amenities, and the best part about that space is that you get to look out at the view from all angles.

I was a little anxious as to what the eco-friendly toilet was going to be like....my husband found it very funny and was ready with the camera. But, ladies I can say that my experience was good, I was pleasantly surprised. Follow the instructions, use the fan...and you'r a-for-away. A change is good every now/then....besides, you'r doing your bit for the environment....that's a thumbs up in my books.

It's a small nature reserve, staff are friendly. Go there to relax, take a walk in the reserve, go to the beach, ride a bike. The best is reading a book and looking at the beautiful sunset.

Will definitely be back again...looking forward to winter when the pan is full and the birds congregate.

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Re-charge

Stephen MacDonald, Dec 2, 2016 - Rocherpan Nature Reserve

Really good accommodation , big thanks to staff who keep the reserve in such great shape. Would highly recommend if you wanted to recharge your soul.

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Amazing Rocherpan

Chris and Jenny Sivertsen, Oct 2, 2016 - Rocherpan Nature Reserve

We just spent an extended weekend (booked for 2 nights but extended to 3) at Rocherpan and were blown away by the attention to detail of the bungalows, the service and the commitment of the staff and the beauty of the area. The bungalows are fitted better than most homes, the peace and tranquility overlooking the pan from the veranda is good for the soul and the hikes are a good challenge.. Definitely worth a visit again and again.

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Bookings are processed through our Call Centre during office hours Monday to Friday 07h30 to 16h30 and Saturday 08h00 until 12h00 noon (CAT).

Our friendly tourism booking officers will take you through the booking process and answer all enquiries.