A rocky shoreline, dotted with pristine little beaches, stretches from Gordon’s Bay, past the imposing peak of Cape Hangklip, to the wind swept estuaries and marshlands of Kleinmond. The narrow coastal belt between fynbos-covered mountains and the waves of the Atlantic are crisscrossed by a network of trails for hikers, eventually leading into the beautiful and intriguing terrain of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve.
This network of mountains, towns and beaches lies only 90 km from Cape Town, and can be reached via a spectacular scenic drive from Gordon’s Bay. The area has a Mediterranean climate, with cool, wet winters and dry, hot summers. Within this small belt between mountains and sea, are many different habitats: high peaks and mountain slopes, ravines and caves, rivers, streams, waterfalls and dark freshwater lakes, rocky coastlines, dunes and white sandy beaches.
Bettys Bay is a jewel where fynbos is concerned, a place where botanists, bird watchers and casual visitors will find much to attract them. The shoreline has long been a coastal reserve and the rock pools are rich in marine life.
At Stoney Point, near what was once a whaling station, is a large colony of African penguins – one of only three on the continent. The new extensive boardwalk enables you to observe these highly endangered birds going about their daily routine, although best viewing is early morning or late evening when they return from fishing!
The wonderful Harold Porter Botanical Gardens in Bettys Bay are dramatically poised in a kloof between mountains and sea, with a spectacular display of Fynbos flora and great waterfalls and streams. Being close to tourist routes and towns, its main task is to conserve and display local plant species for the education and enjoyment of local and overseas visitors.
This flora, being one of the six floral kingdoms of the world, is characterised by the fynbos (hard-leaved shrubby species), and plant groups such as proteas, ericas, daisies, legumes, buchus and brunias; by reed-like plants or restios, and by bulbs of the lily and iris families. These gardens encompass mountains and slopes with their wind-clipped heathlands, deep gorges with relic forests, flats and marshes as well as dunes adjacent to the beaches.
This post was supplied by Darryl Edwardes of Ambre Cottage in Betty’s Bay, an airy spot with a secluded fynbos garden.