CapeNature’s World Heritage Sites – A Photo Tour
The common feature of all properties inscribed on the World Heritage List is that they meet the requirements for outstanding universal value (OUV).
The Cape Floral Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site was inscribed in 2004 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as a natural serial property consisting eight Protected Areas with a total 557,584 hectares, but has since been expanded with 163 additional land parcels, all existing Protected Areas, to a total of 1,094,741 hectares.
In order to qualify for World Heritage status, the following criteria must have been met:
- be outstanding examples representing significant ongoing ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
- contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of Outstanding Universal Value from the point of view of science or conservation.
In this photo tour, we look at the CapeNature reserves that meet the requirements for outstanding universal value and have been recognized as World Heritage Sites.
Originally known as Melkhoutskraal, the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve encompasses 250 hectares of indigenous forest in the Langeberg region, close to Heidelberg. The name translates to “big father” in honour of Roelof Oelofse who owned the land in 1723. It has been a reserve since 1986.
Grootvadersbosch has 11 modern family cabins (built in 2016) located on a ridge, with forest on either side. The cabins are arranged in two rows, with the higher cabins having expansive views of the valley, while the lower cabins look on to indigenous forest.
More information and directions available at Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve.
Anysberg Nature Reserve is located in the semi-arid Klein Karoo, between the towns of Ladismith, Laingsburg, Touwsrivier and Montagu. The reserve, officially proclaimed in 1990, encompasses 79 629 hectares of plains and the majestic Cape Fold Mountains, with deep valleys and steep gorges. Fed by three rivers, a diversity of life is supported here amid mountain fynbos and the characteristic veld of the Klein Karoo.
Five rustic cottages are available to guests, each accommodating between two and six people. Four cottages share an ablution block while the fifth has inside ablution. Cottages are fully equipped and have gas stoves and fridges, an inside fireplace, and hot water. Bedding and towels are provided. Each cottage is equipped with braai facilities.
More information and directions available at Anysberg Nature Reserve.
De Mond is a beautiful coastal nature reserve at the mouth of the Heuningnes River. It lies about 26km south-east of Bredasdorp on the south-western Cape coast, between Arniston and Struisbaai.
The reserve’s 954 hectares include former sections of Zoetendals Vallei and Bushy Park farms. De Mond was established as a nature reserve in 1986, and it is still a popular spot for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts today.
De Mond cottage is a charming self-catering guesthouse, nestled in the reserve’s milkwood trees and coastal fynbos. The cottage is fully equipped, with three rooms that can sleep six guests.
More information and directions available at De Mond Nature Reserve.
Marloth Nature Reserve is hidden away in the imposing Swellendam Mountains, between Swellendam, Ashton, Barrydale and Suurbraak. Swellendam is the third oldest town in South Africa and has many interesting cultural-historic features. The peaceful reserve, which is 14 123 hectares in size, is managed together with 16 532 hectares of privately owned land.
Marloth offers charming and comfortable accommodation in a self-catering cottage that sleep up to six people at a time.
More information and directions available at Marloth Nature Reserve.
Kogelberg lies at the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom and is renowned for the exceptional diversity and quality of its fynbos. The reserve presents perhaps the finest example of mountain fynbos in the Western Cape.
Five glass fronted eco-cabins afford occupants breath-taking views of the reserve. Each cabin sleeps four people and consists of two bedrooms, one bathroom, one en-suite, and a spacious kitchen, lounge and dining area.
More information and directions available at Kogelberg Nature Reserve.
The Cederberg lies 200km north of Cape Town, stretching from the Middelberg Pass in Citrusdal to north of the Pakhuis Pass at Clanwilliam. The wilderness area encompasses about 71 000 hectares of rugged, mountainous terrain, making it a top spot in the Western Cape for hiking and rock-climbing enthusiasts. The area is also rich in wildlife. Visitors with a keen eye may spot porcupines, honey badger, the Cape clawless otter and aardvark. The lucky few may even catch a glimpse of the elusive leopard. There are also smaller predators like the African wild cat, lynx, bat-eared fox, aardwolf and Cape fox. Other, more common animals include baboons, dassies, grey rhebok, klipspringers, duiker and grysbok.
Six new cottages with electrical supply were added to the existing accommodation at Algeria in late 2015. They are modern two-bedroom cottages with a double bed in the main bedroom, two single beds in the other room and a sleeper couch in the living area. These cottages can accommodate four adults and up to two children under the age of 12. Each cottage has one bathroom with a shower and toilet together, a big stoep with beautiful views over the mountain with undercover braai facilities and inside fire places. The kitchens and living areas are modernly furnished with colourful pictures added to enhance the natural environment in which they are situated.
More information and directions available at the Cederberg Wilderness Area.
De Hoop is one of the largest natural areas managed by CapeNature. This beautiful reserve is a favourite for hikers, cyclists, and bird and whale watchers. The reserve, which is 34 000 hectares, is just three hours from Cape Town, in the Overberg.
The neighbouring marine reserve, which extends 5km out to sea, is one of the largest marine protected areas in Africa. It conserves a vast and fascinating variety of marine life. De Hoop has one of the best hiking trails in South Africa: the Whale Trail. This route offers coastal and mountain walking, with spectacular views and, of course, plenty of opportunities for whale watching.
The five Whale Trail overnight cottages lie at the foot of the Potberg Mountains, perched high on a sea cliff. The charming cottages range from Arniston-style units to A-framed thatched “kapstyl” cottages. Each fully equipped cottage sleeps up to 12 people, generally with three bedrooms (four beds in each).
More information and directions available at De Hoop Nature Reserve.
Proclaimed as a nature reserve in 2000, Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve occupies a very special part of the Western Cape. The 12 800 hectare nature reserve is located in the transitional zone where fynbos and lowland succulent Karoo vegetation overlap. The diversity of fauna and flora found on the reserve thus offers visitors representations of both biomes.
More information and directions at Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve.
Limietberg is a pristine nature reserve tucked away in the Du Toitskloof Mountains, near Paarl. The reserve stretches from Franschhoek in the south, eastwards towards Groot Drakenstein, and northwards as far as Voëlvlei Dam and offers a number of beautiful hikes through steep kloofs and deep valleys. Du Toits Peak, at 1 996m, is the highest point within the reserve.
Only campsite accommodation is offered at Limietberg Nature Reserve. There are both standard and private sites available and caravanners are welcome. The Tweede Tol camp and picnic site is located at the original tollgate of the beautiful Bainskloof Pass, built in 1853. The campsite has 20 standard sites, each with its own braai area.
More information and directions available at Limietberg Nature Reserve.
Robberg, situated 8km south of Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route, is not only a nature reserve, but also a national monument. Rocks from this region date back 120 million years to the break-up of Gondwanaland and evidence of middle and later Stone Age inhabitation has been found in a few of the caves along the peninsula.
Set overlooking the ocean, Robberg Island and the beach, Fountain Shack sleeps eight people in four double bunk beds in an open-plan room. Only one group can book at a time.
More information and directions available at Robberg Nature Reserve.
This nature reserve is home to the majestic Jonkershoek Mountains and parts of the Jonkershoek valley. The reserve, which includes the smaller Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve, lies near the town of Stellenbosch in the south-western Cape. Visitors may choose to explore one or both reserves, as they are in easy reach of each other. The reserves are about 9km from Stellenbosch, on the Jonkershoek valley road.
The charming Assegaaibosch Manor House is a national monument, built in traditional Cape Dutch style. (Please note that the Manor House is currently closed until further notice).
The Gamkaberg Nature Reserve was established in 1974 to conserve a small, remnant herd of endangered Cape mountain zebra. They numbered just five in 1976 but, fortunately, focused conservation initiatives, involving resettling of animals into private and national nature reserves, helped their numbers increase.
Gamkaberg aims to provide visitors with a first class nature experience while at the same time creating awareness about treading lightly on the environment. With this in mind, accommodation facilities are comfortable, yet all about rustic charm. Carefully constructed along a network of pathways, the three Eco-Lodges (Tierkloof, Sweet-thorn and Fossil Ridge) consist of safari-style tents on decks, splash pool and a kitchen/lounge area with adjacent lapa.
More information and directions available at Gamkaberg Nature Reserve.
This nature reserve lies in the majestic Hottentots Holland Mountains, about 90km south-east of Cape Town. The 70 000-hectare reserve stretches from Elgin in the south to beyond Villiersdorp in the north, and from the Stellenbosch Mountains in the west, eastwards to the Groenland Mountains.
Overnight huts are available at Landroskop and Boesmanskloof. Each hut sleeps 30 people. The huts have four rooms that may be booked separately. Bunk beds, mattresses, wood and water are provided.
More information and directions available at the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve.
The greater Groot Winterhoek conservation area is particularly important for protecting mountain fynbos and wildlife. It is also one of Cape Town’s sources of fresh, clean water.
This area is rich in history, with ancient rock paintings by the San and Khoi people, and the oldest farm established in 1875. Early settlers in the area used animals to transport produce and supplies between Porterville and Saron. Their tracks are still visible above Driebosch and Weltevrede.
**Please note that the Groot Wintershoek Wilderness Area is closed until the end of 2017 because of recent fires.**
More information and directions available at the Groot Wintershoek Wilderness Area.
Keurbooms River Nature Reserve is an exquisite, small reserve of just 740 hectares located in the lush Garden Route region just outside Plettenberg Bay. The Keurbooms River passes through the reserve bringing an abundance of water from further up in the Tsitsikamma Mountains to enter the ocean through the stunning estuary. Promising an undiluted nature experience of indigenous forests, unspoilt river gorge, and protected kloofs, this reserve is a favourite destination for both local and international travellers.
Whiskey Creek Cabin is located 7km upstream from the main entrance and comfortably sleeps 10 guests in four double bunk beds and two single beds. The cabin has an open-air kitchen shaded by a veranda roof, and an expansive deck with a braai area. A timber walkway connects the cabin to the river. **Please note that Whiskey Creek Cabin is closed until the 30th September 2017.**
More information and directions available at Keurbooms River Nature Reserve.
Goukamma Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area, situated on the Garden Route between Sedgefield and Knysna, has a diverse array of fascinating habitats and an abundance of smaller wildlife, birds and fish.
Buffalo Valley is a large conservation area bordering the serene Goukamma River just two kilometers upstream from the warm Indian Ocean. Buffalo Valley’s three self-catering timber lodges are fully equipped and sleep between four and six people.
**Due to the June 2017 fires in the Knysna and Plettenberg Bay area, Goukamma Nature Reserve has been closed until further notice.**
More information and directions available at Goukamma Nature Reserve.
Swartberg Nature Reserve stretches 121 000 hectares between the Klein and Groot Karoo, bordering the Gamkapoort Nature Reserve to the north and the Towerkop Nature Reserve to the west. The town of Oudtshoorn is 40km away. Visitors staying overnight sleep in restored cottages in the Gamkaskloof (otherwise known as Die Hel) and delight in the reserve’s rich heritage.
The remote and isolated Gamkaskloof valley has a rich ecological, archaelogical and cultural history and is a must to visit! As well as being part of the World Heritage Site, it was declared a Cultural Historical Site and deserves special care to ensure it is preserved for future generations. It offers camping and self-catering accommodation in eleven restored historical cottages sleeping between two and eight people.
More information and directions available at Swartberg Nature Reserve.