17 November 2010

Hermanus: Fernkloof Gardens

Date: 14 November 2010

Location: Fernkloof Nature Reserve in Hermanus

Walkers: Michele & Helen

Map of the reserve here.

After our walk along Cliff Path we drove across Hermanus to visit the small nature reserve called Fernkloof on the edge of town. As we arrived at the visitor's centre we saw half a dozen folks in uniform and I wondered if there had been a mugging. I remember being shocked to hear about the series of horrible and violent attacks that happened in the reserve at the end of last year (walkers stabbed and beaten etc.). The friendly park ranger explained to us that no, there hadn't been an incident and in fact the personnel in uniform were the security team employed to watch out for the safety of visitors. Their system works as follows: when you arrive at the visitor's centre you tell the ranger which route you're walking and he sms's the details to the various other rangers up on the mountain and they watch your progress the whole way. Since they've started doing this not only have they caught and put away the people responsible for last year's attacks, there have been no other muggings. I think this is excellent - I commend the way they take the safety of their visitors so seriously. The bad news for us on this visit was that the team of rangers were knocking off for the day (it was quite late, after 4pm). Because of this, and the fact that we'd done quite a lot of walking already, we decided not to venture out onto the mountain slopes. (BTW during peak season the hours of ranger surveillance are extended til 7pm when the park closes).

Instead we decided to explore the lower section of the reserve, following a path signposted to the gardens. This was a pleasant stroll downhill to the area near the gate to the reserve.

Here we found a map showing the various planted areas making up the botanical garden. It was all clearly signposted too.

The garden was quite small but there was lots to see.

The sundial was a focal point.

Here is a selection of the plants we saw...

On the walk back to the visitor's centre we stopped to look at the tall trees with blue flowers. I think was blue pea, Psoralea pinnata.

We also got great views of the surrounding peaks. There is an extensive network of paths in the reserve and I definitely want to visit again and explore some more soon.



Firefly the Travel Guy said...

Another place I haven't been to. Actually didn't even know of. This December we are going camping in the Drakensberg, but I think Dec 2011 we will be doing Cape Town so that I can explore some of these great walks.

Avril said...

Hi Helen - Firefly told me about your blog as we are very familiar with Hermanus. We must do the Fernkloof Reserve walks but we never seem to have the time as we visit family whilst there. We have however done the Cliff Path walk from end to end. Always walk the along the path between the New Harbour and town as it's close to hubby's family home. Walked the other way only once two years ago.

I'll be 'walking' with you again!

Helen said...

Sounds like a plan Firefly! I'm a big fan of the Drakensberg (spent many childhood holidays there) so look forward to seeing your pics.

Welcome, Avril. Nice to hear you enjoy the cliff path - it really is beautiful isn't it. I do hope you get to visit Fernkloof next time you visit Hermanus... it's lovely. There are grassy lawns so you could make it a family picnic, perhaps.

Marie said...

Beautiful pictures, Helen. I'm so glad to hear about their security arrangement. That horrible story gave me the heebie jeebies.

Do you know who pays for the security - is it SAN Parks or the Hermanus municipality?

Helen said...

Thanks Marie.
Fernkloof isn't part of SAN Parks or CapeNature, so I assume it is run by the local municipality. In the town centre and along the cliff path there were several guys carrying truncheons and walkie-talkies with ADT insignia and something along the lines of "Hermanus Public Protection" on their uniforms - it appeared the town had gone into partnership with the private security company. I actually can't remember if the folks in the reserve had on the same uniform or something different. Michele seems to think they may have been actual police service.