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Thursday, 13 October 2016 14:13

Gorgeous Goukamma - Paradise on our door

It was a fresh, early October morning and I was on a mission - to capture through the lens and best paint a picture with words, the beauty of the Goukamma Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area. So there I was, standing on the blissfully deserted Goukamma beach, during a spring-low tide, staring out at the big blue as it collided with the shoreline. I quickly realised no lens or flowery adjective could possibly convey this kind of perfection and I felt a genuine sense of relief and happiness knowing that the natural setting which surrounded me is protected.
 
CapeNature is the key custodian of this largely untransformed natural landscape, which comprises a terrestrial area of 2500 hectares and a Marine Protected Area of 34km². They have ensured that the human footprint throughout the reserve has remained small and sustainable and they encourage those who seek respite in the natural world to visit and explore all of its assets, of which there are many. There is the Groenvlei Lake, one of only two closed freshwater coastal lakes in South Africa; some of the highest vegetated dunes in the country;  large swathes of forest and fynbos through which a series of interconnected hiking trails have been blazed, the long and winding cola-coloured Goukamma River and estuary and a 16,5km stretch of sand and sea and a large MPA. Rich in an insane web of life, the Goukamma is one of the most exquisite natural settings in the Garden Route.
 
This particular Garden Route MPA is an important nursery for several vulnerable fish species, and fortunately, for the last 16 years or so, this marine ecosystem has enjoyed limited interference from man. In light of the current plight of our seas, this is cause for celebration. It also provides a safe haven for many marine mammal species such as a resident pod of Indo-pacific Humpback Dolphin. Congregating in small pods, this endangered dolphin can be seen feeding within the rocky reefs close to shore. Their propensity for feeding in shallow waters make them quite vulnerable to pollution and any acts of man, but they find sanctuary within these protected waters.  The reserve also serves as an important breeding area for the African Black Oystercatcher and White-fronted Plover.  
 
There are several accommodation options for those wanting to linger for a while. There is the Mvubu Bushcamp cottage tucked away among a milkwood forest on the shores of Groenvlei Lake. On the Buffalo Bay side of Goukamma, three thatched cottages with modern décor and facilities overlook the river and estuary. There is also Otter’s Rest Lodge and Fish Eagle Loft, both of which offer stylish accommodation with river and sea views.
For more information visit www.capenature.co.za
 
Published in Things to do
Friday, 02 September 2016 04:29

Free Access at CapeNature Reserves

Spring is here and the great outdoors is beckoning. It's a really special time in the Garden Route when the wild flowers emerge in colourful profusion throughout the region. We have an incredibly diverse palette of natural assets; mountains, lakes, rivers and dynamic stretches of coastline – all of these are just begging to be explored.

Large tracts of these natural assets are managed by passionate conservation bodies whose mission it is to protect our precious natural heritage. CapeNature (officially the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board) is one such custodian and it is the governmental organisation responsible for maintaining wilderness areas and public nature reserves in the Western Cape.

They have within their conservation stable some of the most beautiful, unspoilt reserves imaginable, each boasting mind-boggling biodiversity. Here in the Garden Route, there are four reserves from which to choose; Goukamma, Outeniqua,Keurbooms and Robberg Nature Reserve.

Sounds rather enticing doesn't it? The good news is that for one week during September, these natural realms are open to all! During the Nature Access Week, which runs from the 19-25 September 2016, CapeNature is opening their gates to the public, FREE of charge. During that time the standard conservation fee that day visitors pay, will be waived.

The purpose of the CapeNature Access Week is to provide opportunity for all citizens to access the provincial Protected Areas free of charge for day visitors (excluding accommodation bookings). This initiative is aimed at encouraging people from all walks of life and diverse communities to experience the beauty of nature at any CapeNature reserve without restricting access through a fee.
So now there is no excuse to get outdoors and explore – you won't be disappointed.

Terms & Conditions apply, please visit www.capenature.co.za for more information.

Published in Things to do