My happy place: Robberg Nature Reserve
CapeNature talks to Garden Route-based lifestyle and nature photographer Sharyn Hodges about her favourite place on earth – Robberg Nature Reserve.
If you search the hashtag #Robberg on Instagram, you’ll find hundreds of photos of the World Heritage Site. But the ones that stand out usually have one thing in common – they’ve been captured and uploaded to one of two accounts – @sharynhodges and @gardenroute. Sharyn Hodges is the woman behind both. She’s been working as a professional photographer for the past two years, but always returns to Robberg Nature Reserve, her “happy place”, for inspiration.
What is it about Robberg that is so special to you?
Everyone has their happy place; a place they like to escape to, where you can leave the hustle and bustle of everyday life behind you, and find your inner calm again. Mine is Robberg – it lends itself to the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets, while offering people of all ages a safe and scenic hiking environment. I feel invigorated by the open spaces of Robberg’s indigenous flora, and challenged by it’s “wild side”. It’s truly a very diverse reserve, where you can get close to the ocean and it’s inhabitants (whales, dolphins and seals), but at the same time scramble over rocks and peek into rock pools, walk on pristine white beaches, or spend some time basking in the sun. Robberg is about the big and the small; you can feel overwhelmed and humbled by it’s beauty all at the same time. It also holds so many memories for me of special moments shared with friends, laughs shared with strangers who became friends, and many coffees consumed while waiting for the new day to break.
How long have you been visiting Robberg?
Apparently Robberg runs in the family, as my mom and dad use to take me, as a small toddler, to Robberg every year during our December holidays. We would travel down from Rustenburg, where I was born, to Keurboomstrand to spend Christmas with family. Robberg is just one of those places you absolutely have to visit when you are staying in Plett for any length of time. My first time at Robberg, that I can clearly remember, was as part of a school outing lead by our history teacher, Mrs. Reid. We hiked up to Nelson’s Cave that day. I do remember, then already, being overwhelmed by the diversity of the landscape, and the breathtaking scenery as you wind your way down to the beach.
How often do you visit Robberg, on average?
Not nearly enough! I do try to go at least once a week for my fix.
Are you a Wild Card member, and how has that helped with getting access to Robberg?
Of course I am! My Wild Card lives in my camera bag and is incredibly useful, because it allows me access into all of the CapeNature Reserves for free. I also never carry cash with me so it is really handy to have the card and not have to pay cash every time I visit! I definitely paid back the Wild Card subscription fee within the first month of having it because of my frequent visits to Robberg – so the rest of the year’s visits are all a bonus!
Do you have a special moment that sticks out in your memory from Robberg?
There are so many, but most recently, I went on a grand mission to Robberg with my friend, Jacques Crafford (@Jacques_Crafford). He was visiting from Jeffrey’s Bay and I decided to share my happy place with him. Needless to say, he was like a kid in a candy shop and experiencing Robberg through his eyes is a memory I will hold dear for a long time to come. His joy and amazement was tangible, and he said it was one of the best days of his life. We sat down and watched what we call the “Joburg” sunrise … it was very hazy so early in the morning, but when the sun eventually broke through the mist, Robberg flaunted her unadulterated beauty. We saw the fluffy white clouds roll in over Die Eiland and when the sun eventually peeked over the clouds, the shadows were chased away by golden rays. It was absolutely magical, and I am so honoured to have shared this experience with such an incredible human being.
What is your favourite spot at Robberg?
Without a doubt, Die Eiland. It is what is called an “isthmus,” which is a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas, usually with water on either side. It epitomises my happy place. When you start the Robberg hike, it looks like a tiny sliver of land in the distance. The closer you get, the bigger it grows, until you realise that it is an attraction in it’s own right, filled with quaint wooden boardwalks that beckon you to follow them to adventure. You get to experience the breeding colony of kelp gulls that have made this tiny stretch of land their nesting grounds and home and it offers front row seats to watch the summer sunset.
To find out more about Robberg Nature Reserve, head here.