Kogelberg Nature Reserve: A place of natural beauty
It’s not every day that a hiking adventure places you in the midst of fynbos paradise – but when you visit Kogelberg Nature Reserve in the Overberg Region, that is precisely wherein you will find yourself.
I had heard (and seen) much of its beauty through word of mouth and social media, so naturally I was extremely excited to finally experience Kogelberg. Yet, even at my first time of visiting, I never expected it to be half as entrancing or magical as it was in the end.
In hindsight though, I suppose that’s what a (long) weekend away in the nature-rich, adventure capital of the Overberg Region does… It changes your perspective, as it quietly and gently nudges its way into your travel-loving heart. And, once bitten, you’ll never be shy about visiting again!
Wine, whales and wonderful wildlife… That is the Overberg Region in a nutshell – and the Kogelberg Nature Reserve forms a very special part of it. Aside from being a World Heritage Site, it is blessed with wildlife and immense natural beauty by the bucket loads!
Nature’s labyrinth awaits within…
1. Lush life… Right from the start
Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein
I admit, the gravelled road to Kogelberg Nature Reserve isn’t the smoothest of paths (particularly once you come off a long stretch of beautifully tarred roads in either direction…), but for most cars and bakkies, it’s perfectly fine to drive on.
However, you will need to be mindful of the fact that, at most places, the road narrows, becoming a one-way, so you will need to yield to, and wait for, passing cars.
However, the scenery that greets you – lush fynbos fields, hidden houses and of course, the breathtaking mountain peaks, with the Palmiet River flowing below them – is a real treat, enjoyed long before you even arrive at the Kogelberg centre.
It is here that you can purchase permits and plot out your desired hiking trail or activity.
Just a tip: Bring cash with, as Kogelberg Nature Reserve has no card facilities. (If, like us, you arrive there cashless, turn around and head into Kleinmond. It’s a relatively short drive from the reserve – and consequently, is the closest town in general.)
2. Spend an incredible, eco-friendly night in an Oudebosch Eco Cabin
While it may be one of the reserve’s worst kept secrets and best finds all at once – the amazing self-catering accommodation in the earth-conscious Oudebosch Eco Cabins is like something straight out of an epic fantasy novel… Think Bilbo’s hobbit hole, just with a dash more modernity, earthiness and Cape charm! 🙂
Each of these five eco cabins (which can comfortably sleep up to four people) offer beautiful glass-fronted facades and are naturally resplendent with their earthy, grass-covered rooves.
Predominantly heated by solar power and gas, the cabins nevertheless offer creature comforts, with bedding, towels, an equipped kitchen and an outdoor braai (with a grid) all provided.
And best of all, their names – Erica, Marsh Rose, Fire Lily, Iris and Everlasting Daisy respectively – once more give a poetic nod to their eco-friendliness… just in case you had forgotten! 🙂
Sadly, I have not (yet) been fortunate enough to stay in one of these beautiful cabins – but one day, I certainly hope to!
Please note: The Oudebosch Eco Cabins are extremely popular, so advanced booking is strongly advised.
During peak season, an overnight Oudebosch Eco Cabin stay will currently cost you R2300, while off-peak, it amounts to about R1700 per night. (For an additional person, per night, it is R320.)
For more information or to book, please contact Cape Nature directly or book online.
3. Take a hike… seriously!
Kogelberg offers some excellent hikes, with both day and overnight options. Included among them is the child-friendly Palmiet River Hike, which we settled on.
Day hikes include: Perdeberg Trail (22 km; 7-8 hours; difficulty level – moderate, long), Palmiet River Trail (10 km; 3 hours; difficulty level – easy), Oudebosch-Harold Porter (6 km; 3-4 hours; difficulty level – moderate), Kogelberg Trail (24 km; 8 hours; difficulty level – moderate, long) and the Three Sisters (8km; 4 hours; difficulty level – moderate).
These aren’t all of them though, as there are several other trails – including the Highlands Trail (one of the overnight hikes) – to enjoy. In addition to this, the reserve also offers white water rafting on the Palmiet River, and an enthralling Palmiet River Valley MTB route.
The Palmiet River Hike permit cost us R40 per person. This is great value, especially as there are rest and swimming spots along the hiking trail. Please note: Permits must be kept on your person at all times, and no permits are issued after 16:00 pm.
Cape Nature at its finest
Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein
Arguably one of the best things about the Kogelberg is the freedom that it allows travellers, hikers and families… Here, you can disappear into the heart of nature and discover a hidden world, where a secret mountain-fynbos kingdom awaits.
Perhaps less than 50 metres into our hike and already, crystal rock pools and gorgeous proteas had us surrounded…
This is Cape nature (excuse the pun) at its finest – proteas the size of mangoes, cascading, pure waters (even with the Cape’s present drought) and impossible peacefulness all round… What more could one want on a nature walk?
Enjoying the Palmiet River Trail
Near the start of the Palmiet River Trail, I stopped to take a photo and a lady walked past us and said, “Keep going – it gets even better around the next bend.” And boy, was she right… With mountains before us and the river beneath us, I have seen few more glorious natural settings.
At times, we hiked in companionable silence, absorbing the beauty around us but sometimes we would stop and stare at the sights around us in wonder, pointing out a fascinating rock here, or a good photography shot there.
Another thing I really love about the Palmiet River Trail is that it is a fairly easy-going trail, which sees plenty of young families with small children, groups of friends and even some elderly folk effortlessly appreciating its beauty.
Even if you are unfit, this is an easy hike, with very few tricky sections (although the path does occasionally narrow and you sometimes have to cross by flowing water or over muddy, slippery rock areas.
Along the way, there is signage to point you on the right path, and to show you where you can rest or swim. Please stick to these designated areas, particularly when it comes to swimming, and use your common sense… If the river is flowing uncontrollably, don’t try go for a dive.
With stops and photo sessions (of which there were many), the hike took us four hours, although we probably finished it in three leisurely ones, if you take away all my ‘photography pauses’.
Overall, it was one of the more beautiful hikes I have enjoyed in recent years – and, from a nature point of view, certainly one of the richest and most gorgeous.
Mind your step, take your time and be wholly in the moment… You won’t regret it.
Amazing Secrets Kogelberg Keeps
Do you want to know a secret? The Kogelberg Nature Reserve not only offers some 1800 plant species; 18 000 hectares of preserved biosphere diversity; and some wonderful small creatures and birds of prey (including klipspringer bucks, black eagles, dassies, lizards, hares and Cape clawless otter, to name a few)… but it also has a charming secret beach.
Yes, you read right… a beach! Edged by the (then) icy, yet pristine waters of the Palmiet, we found a sugar-white stretch of beach (aptly named The Beach).
In this instance, it lay right near the end of the Palmiet River Trail – although I imagine it is accessible via the other routes too.
After your few hours’ worth of hiking, it’s a wonderfully unexpected find, and is yet another example of the immense beauty that Kogelberg so easily and proudly boasts.
I tried to brave the waters (it was a pretty warm autumn day, after all…) – but alas, they were positively freezing! So, the best time of year to enjoy them is certainly during the height of the Cape summer.
Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein
Maybe someday I’ll return to The Beach and take a proper swim in those crystal-clear waters!
Kingly Kogelberg in closing
Overall, the Kogelberg Nature Reserve is a richly fulfilling experience and makes for a really memorable, picture-perfect trip, whether you spend the day or just an hour or two.
I can definitely rate the Kogelberg Nature Reserve 10/10. While, for me, the Palmiet River Trail is an easy 8/10.
One day, I hope I return to this glorious place… Until then, the memory of it remains beautiful and full in my mind.
Tucked away along the R44, between Rooi Els and Kleinmond, this natural haven is as good a place as any to get your daily exercise, drink in the incredible outdoors – and above all, to restore your mind, body and soul. You, too, can discover the amazing Kogelberg Nature Reserve in the Overberg Region, along the R44.
For more information on the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, its activities and opening times, please contact Cape Nature on +27 (021) 483 0190 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Tamlyn Ryan
Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.
Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.