Fernkloof is a highly accessible and exquisite nature reserve, covering around 1,800 hectares in the Kleinrivier Mountains right above Hermanus.
Simply travel along Main Road and turn left into Fir Avenue just before the traffic circle which leads to the beaches in Voëlklip. When you arrive at the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, you will find gardens on the right and the Botanical Centre buildings on the left. About 500 metres up the road, you will find the Visitors’ Centre, which is where you can select and begin your hike.
The reserve boasts a 60 km network of trails varying in difficulty, allowing people of all fitness levels get their heart rate up in the magnificent surroundings. The scenic trails offer spectacular views of Walker Bay, the Hemel en Aarde Valley and Maanskynbaai.
If you are not up for a hike, you could check out a permanent display of local flowers at the Fernkloof Visitors’ Centre. You could enjoy a picnic in the gardens where you are sure to see a plethora of flora. Tortoises are common as well as rasps of guinea fowl, who leave their spotted feathers laying around as perfect souvenirs. It’s worth checking out the wheelchair-friendly Fragrance Garden, which is home to a variety of lovely smelling plants.
The Provincial Council of the Cape proclaimed the reserve in 1957 to protect the fynbos and patch of evergreen forest. Parts of the coastal area with unique flora and fauna along with the sensitive lagoon area have also been included in the protected area recently.
The Mediterranean climate with cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers, along with strong southeasterly winds is conducive to the flourishing Fynbos. Fynbos includes a variety of evergreen shrub-like plants with small firm leaves, as well as woody plants with hard leathery leaves. In Fernkloof, over 1,400 species have been collected and identified.
A variety of fauna calls the area home including grey rheboks, Cape grysbokke, klipspringers, baboons, mongooses and dassies, as well as some nocturnal creatures which are rarely seen. Birdlife includes the Cape Sugar Bird, Sunbirds, Rock Thrush, Rock Jumper, some seed and insect-eating species along with various raptors.
When you find yourself heading out to Hermanus, pencil in a visit to Fernkloof and enjoy another aspect of the pristine coastal town.
Photography courtesy Fernkloof Facebook page