CapeNature is turning 20! For the past two decades CapeNature has been responsible for biodiversity in the Western Cape, conserving and promoting the Cape’s human, natural and heritage assets.

With its long coastline, towering mountains and unique fauna and flora, the Western Cape is a treasure trove for nature lovers. The Cape Floral Kingdom is so special that it has been designated as one of just six plant kingdoms on the planet. And rare species like the riverine rabbit, geometric tortoise and Cape mountain zebra call the province home.

Picture courtesy of CapeNature

Looking after these natural riches has been the responsibility of CapeNature for the past 20 years. The organisation is driven by a vision to conserve nature for a sustainable future. “I hope that we can provide people with greater access [to nature] to advance sustainable lifestyles and outdoor experiences over the next 20 years,” said CapeNature CEO Dr Razeena Omar.

One step towards this has been the launching of a new phone number for enquiries and permit applications. As of 1 April 2019 CapeNature’s central contact number has changed to 087 087 9262. The number to phone for booking at reserves is now 087 087 8250.

To commemorate 20 years of CapeNature, we look at four ways the organisation nurtures nature.

Beautiful places that will make your heart sing

CapeNature looks after 25 nature reserves that protect the unique habitats, plants and animals of the Western Cape. Even better, the organisation makes it possible for us to spend the night in these beautiful places. From secluded waterside escapes to magical forest stays, there’s an impressive array of accommodation options at CapeNature reserves. Here are three fantastic reserves that deserve a space on your itinerary:

Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve

Nestled in the Western Cape’s Langeberg region, Grootvadersbosch is a place of towering trees and mossy boulders. For an enchanting forest getaway, check into one of the reserve’s self-catering cabins overlooking the ancient yellowwood, stinkwood and ironwood trees of the indigenous forest. If camping is more your thing, pitch your tent at the comfortable campsite and enjoy the lofty trees, birdsong and tranquillity.

Picture courtesy of CapeNature

Also read: Overnight hiking in Boosmansbos Wilderness Area

Cederberg Wilderness Area

With the burnt orange colour of the Cederberg mountains and the rugged sandstone rock formations, the unspoilt beauty of the Cederberg Wilderness Area is truly one of a kind. This World Heritage Site is covered in mountain fynbos and is home to health-giving rooibos and buchu. Enjoy the captivating mountain views from fully equipped cottages or campsites along the river. The dramatic landscape is a magnificent setting to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Picture by Rebekah Funk

Robberg Nature Reserve

The sweeping magnificence of the Robberg Peninsula has drawn human beings for millennia, so it’s hardly surprising that this very special nature reserve is both a South African National Monument and a World Heritage Site. Robberg Nature Reserve is an excellent lookout spot and a place of sanctuary for fish, shellfish, marine mammals, small animals and, of course, plants. Sleep over at the Fountain Shack and wake up to beautiful views of the Garden Route’s wild beaches.

Robberg Nature Reserve is an elevated peninsula, offering great views. Picture by Scott Ramsay.

Looking after our water ‘factories’

Did you know that the Western Cape accounts for more than half of South Africa’s strategic water resources? CapeNature manages 90% of water catchment areas in the province. It is thanks to these pristine mountain areas, typically covered in fynbos, that we can enjoy clean drinking water.

There are many threats facing the water factories of the Western Cape, from alien plants to uncontrollable veld fires. By forming partnerships with the Western Cape Government, the Department of Water Affairs, Provincial Disaster Management Fire Brigade Services and various municipalities in the area, to name a few, CapeNature has proven that they are determined to look after our natural resources  and to create job opportunities through conservation.

Thrilling ways to enjoy nature

Because spending time in nature is good for body and soul, CapeNature has ensured that there are loads of activities on offer in the Cape’s beautiful reserves.

Paddling

Keurbooms River Nature Reserve offers the best of both worlds: the indigenous forest and the winding river that cuts through it. One of the best ways to explore the reserve is to hop in a canoe and paddle along the Whiskey Creek Canoe Trail. Truly immerse yourself in the beautiful scenery and rich birdlife that you’ll meet along the way. Paddle 7km upstream to the Whiskey Creek Cabin where you can overnight and relax with a cold one on an open-air deck under the stars.

Picture by Ron Swilling

Also read: Keurbooms River Nature Reserve, CapeNature

Bouldering

If climbing from one rock formation to the other sounds exciting to you, bouldering is just the ticket. Rocklands bouldering site in the Cederberg Wilderness Area is a world class climbing destination and a must for anyone who practises this extreme sport.

Good to know: Bouldering in the Cederberg require permits which can be purchased online at Quicket. Alternatively, they can be purchased at Kliphuis campsite, the De Pakhuys office and campsite, the Clanwilliam Tourism Office or the shop at Travelers Rest.

Picture courtesy of CapeNature

Hiking

Is there a better way to explore nature than on foot? From mountain tops and deep valleys to riverbanks and fields of fynbos – there is a trail for every taste at almost all the nature reserves in the Western Cape. Travel to Gamkaberg’s quiet kloofs between Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn and walk the heritage trail to learn about Khoisan rock art. Walk De Hoop Nature Reserve’s coastal trail and be spoilt with amazing whale watching opportunities or admire the striking beauty of the Boland on one of three day trails at Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve. Whichever hike you choose, you’ll gain valuable knowledge about the area and be surrounded by stunning scenery.

Picture by Rudolph de Girardier

Protecting our precious wildlife

Endemic to South Africa, the Cape mountain zebra is one of the Western Cape’s natural treasures. Sadly, this animal is listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). At the beginning of the 20th century, the number of these beautiful striped creatures drastically declined to fewer than 60. Thankfully there were three populations left: Cradock in the Eastern Cape and Kammanassie and Gamkaberg in the Western Cape. Thanks to the conservation action of CapeNature and partners, there has been a steady growth in numbers and today there are well over 4,000 Cape Mountain zebras.

Picture by Mitch Reardon

Celebrate 20 years of conservation by joining CapeNature at one of their reserves.