Eco-cabin at Rocherpan Nature Reserve. Photo by Cheryl-Samantha Owen.

There’s plenty to do at Rocherpan Nature Reserve, two and a half hours north of Cape Town, but you could just sit on the inviting stoep all day. By Marion Whitehead

The eco-cabins at Rocherpan Nature Reserve are proving so popular with birders and those looking for a peaceful chill spot on the West Coast that CapeNature has built more. The cabins are all named after birds and are a wonderful example of low-impact luxury, with an excellent mix of style and practicality. Designed to minimise impact on the environment, they’re set well back from the water and are built on the footprint of former farm labourers’ cottages.

The inviting interiors of the eco-cabins at Rocherpan. Photo by Cheryl-Samantha Owen.

The inviting interiors of the eco-cabins at Rocherpan. Pictures by Cheryl-Samantha Owen

Exploring the reserve’s coastline, which is now a marine protected area, a surprise waited us at the lookout picnic spot on the dune above the beach: whales! There were three groups of southern rights frolicking and feeding in the sea, moving slowly up the coast in a barely discernable leviathan rhythm. Bottle-nosed dolphins are also frequent visitors, but we saw only African black oystercatchers and kelp gulls looking for tidbits on the endless, unspoilt beach.

Hike to the lookout point for whale sightings and then stroll back along the beach. Photo by Cheryl-Samantha Owen.

Hike to the lookout point for whale sightings and then stroll back along the beach.

You can mountain bike along the jeep tracks. Photo by Cheryl-Samantha Owen.

You can mountain bike along the jeep tracks.

There’s more to Rocherpan than just birding. The coastal hiking trail meanders for seven kilometres along the beach, and you can stop for a swim in the ocean and a picnic. The second wanders inland for eight kilometres, across a boardwalk and through shoulder-high strandveld good for spotting a variety of canaries and larks. It skirts inland away from the pan to avoid disturbing the nesting site of a pair of black harriers, one of the world’s rarest raptors.

Bookings: www.capenature.co.za or +27 (0)21 483 0190