Updated: Sep 30, 2022
After the cold of winter, the blossoming of Spring brings with it longer, warmer and flower-scented days that lull us away from under the warm blanket and back onto the trails. There were murmurs at Forge HQ of a Spring blog post along the lines of the best hikes to swimming spots for Spring. But down in the Western Cape, we know that Spring keeps a bit of winter with it for a while. So, while we wait upon Summer, here are three stunning circular hikes in CapeNature's reserves to do this Spring. 🔁
Baby bear, mama bear and papa bear: The circular trails of De Hoop Nature
From the De Hoop Collection cottage, there are a number of circular trails that can be combined in a number of ways depending on your eagerness. The Coot Trail is 5 km long, the Heron 8 km and the Grebe 15 km. These easy trails all lead along the beautiful De Hoop Vlei on the Salt River (the sunsets here are rumored to be seriously special) and loop back through the Renosterveld back to the Office and Chalets. The Grebe Trail leads all the way to De Mond at the coast. This is a perfect spot for whale-watching and Spring is the best season for seeing these extraordinary marine mammals, whilst De Hoop is arguably South Africa's best whale-watching destination. 🐋
De Hoop Collection offers a range of accommodation and for those overnighting, De Hoop is open for day visitors between 07:00 and 18:00 (Fridays 19:00).
A point to make on the Peninsula: Point Trail, Robberg Nature Reserve
Robberg juts out from the Garden Route's coastline, flanked on either end by long white beaches and rugged rocky cliffs. Coastline hiking does not come better than this and the Point Trail, which winds around Robberg's edge is the finest way to explore the entire peninsula. The 9.2 km trail starts at the reserve's office at Bosluiskop and drops down to Robberg Rocks, a geological site indicating evidence of the breaking up of once supercontinent Gondwanaland, dating back roughly 120 million years.
The trail then winds past beaches and along the rugges coast past the Fountain Shack (which can be booked for an overnight stay - picture Robberg all to yourself!), the old Point Shack (destroyed by large waves in a storm in September 2008), and the Cape Seal Lighthouse; South Africa's highest navigational light with a beam range of around 27 km!
Robberg is just 7 km outside of Plettenberg Bay making it an ideal place to spend a day. Although, once you've been once, you'll probably end up paying multiple visits. The office is open from 08:00-17:00.
Squaring the Circle: The Kogelberg Trail, Kogelberg Nature Reserve
If you're after a slightly more serious circular trek this Spring, or perhaps there are some winter pounds that need to be shed before Summer, perhaps the Kogelberg Trail will whet the appetite.
The Kogelberg Trail starts and ends at the Oudebosch office, encircles Platberg (910 m). The trail skirts the Oudebosch cabins before winding up the beautiful Oudebosch Gorge, where on a warm day, the indigenous forest provides welcome shade. The trail then skirts above the Platbox and Louwsbox montane forests and below Platberg peak. The hardest part of the trail is behind you once you've reached 500 m above sea level. The trail the drops and winds its way along the Louwsrivier, before turning south along the Palmiet back towards the Oudebosch. Whether you've depleted your snacks by now or not, there are plenty of places to stop along the Palmiet River to soak up some sun and even take a dip in the river's rooibos-tinted water. The total trail length is 24 km and should take an roughly 8 hours to complete. A perfect day out.
The reserve is open for day visitors 07:30 -19:00 during the Spring months (note the office closes at 16h00), but why not stay the night in one of the award-winning pods and cabins comprising the Mbali Collection and Oudebosch Eco Cabins.