Kogelberg Nature Reserve

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa


Kogelberg eco-cabin looking up Oudebosch Gorge
Kogelberg eco-cabin
looking up Oudebosch Gorge


Cape rock thrush. Elegant papa. Frazzled mama with 2 teenaged FEED mes. We stopped for a vegan lunch in Hermanus. Delicious spicy barbecue Buddha bowl with a rainbow of baby carrots and corncobs, broccoli and courgettes, beans and sugar snap peas, red bell peppers, roasted chickpeas, barley, falafel, humus.

Cape rock thrush
Cape rock thrush

Living wing, bedroom wing, courtyard (home to three-striped mice) and covered verandah. We fell asleep to the frogs calling. As at Rocher Pan we had a waterless toilet. Saving water and avoiding contamination of the nearby wetland.

Kogelberg eco-cabin Erica with Diana lost in a good book
Kogelberg eco-cabin Erica
with Diana lost in a good book

I was wary of what we would find after January's fire on the Palmiet River Walk. Given Cape Town's drought and water restrictions it was wonderful to see green slopes rolling out on all sides and a healthy flow in the river. Intrigued by these billowing rocks which looked like a huge batch of yeasty bread dough rising.

Palmiet River Walk Kogelberg, hobbit houses
Palmiet River Walk
Kogelberg
(top left hobbit houses)

As we walked back to our cottage, I paused, and held my breath, while he photographed the agama over my shoulder. We also saw a thumb length youngster.

Agama
Agama

Five eco-cabins share a swimming pool filtered by a generous wetland, reeds and gravel and frogs.

Kogelberg eco-swimming pool (pool above, eco-filter bed below)
Kogelberg eco-swimming pool
(pool above, eco-filter bed below)

On the second day we walked up that long valley, which was our view as the light changed thru the day. Sun, and clouds, a little rain, a wonderful sunset. Oudebosch (old forest in Dutch) is deceptive from below. Green yes and it looks a fairly gentle climb. We followed and crossed the river. Halfway we reached that gash of rocks down the mountainside. Mother Nature showing her strength as the winter rain buckets down. Then the path surprised us as we folded in to deep forest. We were heading to that patch of light, thinking it was the crest. Not a chance, only a huge fallen tree opening a clearing. The path got steeper, and slippery with fallen leaves on last night's rain. We turned back. Next time ... we will take lunch with us.

Oudebosch Gorge and forest Kogelberg
Oudebosch Gorge and forest
Kogelberg

Again - summer - drought - and SO many flowers! Ericas. Proteas and yellow male and female Aulax, leucadendrons and Van Riebeeck's almond hedge Brabejum stellatifolium. Bulbs red Anapalina and Watsonia, blue Nivenia. Amongst the red and yellow swathes of leucadendrons a pink Pelargonium. Two blue Roella. Overwhelmed by the endless variety. Even the slope of white everlasting daisies was two different plants, one with long silvery leaves, the other with teensy crumpled leaves.

Red black and white trumpets is an endemic Retzia capensis, the lonely only member of the Retziaceae family. After fire they will return from the roots. Some individuals are hundreds of years old!

February flowers at Kogelberg
February flowers at Kogelberg

Serious hikers (we met a father and son) spend a full day hiking up then down Leopard's Gorge to Harold Porter NBG. We drove along the coast. Walked in the garden and up Disakloof where the boardwalk asks walkers to bow in respect to the gnarled old tree.

Harold Porter NB garden with Erica
Harold Porter NB garden
with Erica

As I was photographing the red Erica I noticed the carpenter bee.

Carpenter bee on Erica
Carpenter bee on Erica

... I hadn't reckoned on how bare the bones would be. A marriage, a birth, a death. This wasn't a life. It was nothing like it. Life's what happens in between ... These tiny things that change the world, minute by minute, and for ever. These perishable moments, that are gone completely, if we don't take the trouble of their telling.

- from Jo Baker's The Telling.

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Pictures by Jürg and Diana Studer
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Comments

  1. That is an amazing place to have a holiday stay, I followed your link and watched the video! They have thought of so much when designed those eco cabins. The surrounding area is so beautiful it must have been very relaxing apart from the hike. It is this time of year the best time to see the flora and fauna? Sarah x

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    1. I was impressed that they could lift off the wooden cabin, and remove the stone gabions ... and return to nature. Such a gentle small footprint!

      Each season has flowers to offer. If you can take time to walk, you will find plenty to pause for. High season for spring flowers in Namaqualand is end of August thru September - but each year depends on the rain.

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  2. Loved the passage from The Telling at the end. Thank you so much for the images of the summer wildflowers. We crave them during our dark and cold season! The eco-cabin and surrounds look like a wonderful getaway and adventure. I was surprised to see such a thick forest after the start of the trail was so open and treeless. A beautiful post.

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    1. It is a hazard of walking in fynbos, like the river trail, that there are 'no trees, no shade'. Gentle breezes and sudden forests are deeply appreciated.

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  3. Your February flowers are wonderful, Diana. The eco-cabins are beautifully sited and I enjoyed seeing the striped mice too.

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    1. They were quite timid, waiting for the thrushes, before they collected crumbs. Then nipping into strategic gaps in the stone gabions.

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  4. What a beautiful place, and the eco-cabins look like ideal accommodation. In my part of the world, mountains are mostly covered with forest, and I have had many hikes climbing hopefully upward toward patches of light that turned out not to be the summit.

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    1. This fallen tree was huge, and I could imagine the relief of his neighbours as they found their place in the sun. I thnk we went up about 2/3 of the way.

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  5. The Palmiest River walk looks beautiful, how nice to see some greenery and water when there has been such drought around the Cape. The Feb flowers are lovely too. I hope the frogs didn't keep you awake, we have just returned from the coast where they did keep us awake! I love the quote from The Telling...I'll look up the author.

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    1. It was a gentle frog lullaby, not a teeming honking horde.

      The Telling I found via

      http://highheelsinthewilderness.blogspot.co.za/2017/01/2016-book-roundup-looking-backward-and.html

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  6. That whole area looks like a perfect setting for a movie. The flowers are lovely but oh, those sensuous rocks!

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    1. There were people swimming in the river there. The rocks would have been lovely to sprawl on!

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  7. Oh my Diana, what an incredible place to stay. The setting is just glorious. Just you and nature at its best.

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    1. Definitely a next time sort of place - in a different season with fresh flowers.

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  8. Magnificent! I can't imagine running into actual forest during a walk here ;-) The abundance is lovely - and that, after fire... By the way, the first buds are showing among my Freesia alba, which your posts inspired me to plant!

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    1. Early settlers harvested timber where they found indigenous forest. The footprint of these cabins was once a village for forestry workers. It also fascinates me that our natural forest, as opposed to a pine plantation, can resist fire.

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  9. What a gorgeous spot for a holiday, the weather looks nice and I really love the cabins as well. Lucky you.
    Amalia
    xo

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  10. How beautiful the collage of February flowers! It would be such a great experience to stay at an eco cottage in such a setting! I agree completely with the excerpt from The Telling. Life is made up of the details, and I have to ask about that toilet: does it smell?

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    1. Thinking back to the one at Rocher Pan - there must have been a problem there. Open plan bathroom with a dividing wall open at the top and the fan whined. Not happy!

      This one worked perfectly. No smell. Perhaps a garden hint of fresh compost from the bucket waiting to be sprinkled in. Otherwise I'd say less pong than a waterborne sewage system. And this fan was perfectly quiet, even for my sensitive ear. 'I fell asleep to song of the frogs'

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  11. Wow, what a beautiful place! I enjoyed reading about it and seeing the photos. Thank you for your comment on my Wildflower Wednesday post. People are still trying to fight the pipelines, but I don't know how successful they will be. In the meantime, other pipelines are leaking, but if the new ones do, a lot of water will be polluted, and it will be devastating.

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    1. I read that Trump said no one said anything to him against the pipeline! So everyone is happy?

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  12. So beautiful... I love the green roofs. Those rocks are very odd indeed.

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  13. Just realized I missed this posting, Diana. Glad I found it for the adorable thrush and the stunning February flowers! P. x

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