With a landscape dominated by gentle hills, enclosed by the ocean and foreboding mountain ranges, the Cape Overberg shows great diversity with its abundance of marine wildlife as well as a jaw-dropping natural wonderland. There are plenty of nature reserves in the region, we've highlighted a few below.
Agulhas National Park^
Nearby town: Struisbaai
Shipwrecks dot the rugged coastline, which lead up to the legendary 'Cape of Storms'. The reserve notably features the Southernmost tip of Africa, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions. The historic Cape Agulhas lighthouse was the third lighthouse to be built in South Africa.
What to expect: Stand on the southernmost tip of the African continent. Or explore the hiking trails and discover the shipwrecks.
Flora and Fauna: It may be one of the smallest national parks in South Africa, but it boasts 2,000 native plant species and a wetland that provides refuge to birds and amphibians.
De Mond Nature Reserve^
Nearby towns: Bredasdorp and Struisbaai
This reserve extends over 954 hectares and includes a coastline with powder white beaches.
Flora and Fauna: Mainly coastal vegetation, which includes dune milkwood forests, teeming saltmarshes that sustain the estuarine environment. Further inland, dune fynbos borders limestone fynbos heathlands, creating a fascinating composition
What to expect: Shady trees along the banks of the river provide the perfect spot for a picnic, explore one of the many trails, or go fishing in De Mond’s prime freshwater and marine angling spots. The 7km Sterna Trail provides the perfect route to take in all the reserve has to offer, from riverine vegetation and dunes, to a coastal walk through to the river mouth and saltmarshes.
Kogelberg Nature Reserve^
Nearby town: Pringle Bay
Considered the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom thanks to the diversity and quality of fynbos found in the reserve, Kogelberg remains mostly isolated and unspoilt.
Flora and Fauna: It has approximately 1800 plant species, of which about 150 are endemic and noteworthy. Peregrine falcons, black eagles and fish eagles hunt and nest in and around the Reserve. An endemic freshwater crab and the endangered micro-frog are also found in the area.
What to expect: Due to conservation efforts there’s limited access to the reserve. Some activities may require permits, such as kayaking, but the reserve offers hiking trails and swimming spots in certain areas.
Marloth Mountain Nature Reserve
Nearby town: Swellendam
The Marloth Mountain Nature Reserve is one of the most unspoilt reserves in the country. It is also arguably one of the most unheralded.
Flora and Fauna: The floral diversity of Marloth Nature Reserve is unmatched across the Western Cape and the fact that it is named after a pioneering botanist says much about the vegetation in this 14 123 hectares of pristine mountain tract. The nature reserve is home to many small mammals, including the grey rhebok, klipspringer, common duiker, baboon, caracal, mongoose, porcupine, dassie and hare. The area is rich in birdlife, with 114 species recorded, including the African fish eagle, black eagle, wood owl, red-winged francolin, tambourine dove, and four different species of woodpecker.
What to expect: Hidden away in the imposing Swellendam Mountains, Marloth is a gem of a reserve with some of the best hikes in the country, including the six-day Swellendam Trail, which is a must for serious hikers.
De Hoop Nature Reserve^
Nearby towns: Witsand, Malgas, and Infanta
De Hoop nature reserve also serves as a marine protected area, known for its Southern Right Whale migratory calving population.
Flora and Fauna: The reserve forms part of the Cape Floral Kingdom and has the largest unspoiled area for Fynbos. The Marine Protected Area provides a sanctuary for an array of marine life.
What to expect: A complete outdoor experience with sea, sand dunes, the vlei, rare fynbos plants, diverse antelope and the Potberg Mountains. It’s a popular destination for hikers, cyclists, birdwatchers and whale watchers.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
Grootbos is a luxury eco-reserve and world leader in sustainable tourism, receiving numerous international awards in its category. The reserve is dedicated to the conservation of the Cape fynbos and offers a number of activities related to plants and wildlife.
Flora and Fauna: 800 plant species, 118 bird species, 29 mammals and 21 amphibians – some of which are under threat of extinction.
What to expect: A luxury experience that fully immerses you in the natural surroundings, including whale watching and botanical tours.
Nature reserves managed by public entities are indicated above with the ^ symbol.