Fernkloof, Walker Bay, Hemel en Aarde Valley
Fernkloof Reserve is one of nature’s bright gems, and it’s a short 15-minute drive away from my apartment in Hermanus! I’ve hiked the waterfall trail and am learning other routes. Fernkloof trails are gentler than Table Mountain with spectacular views of Walker Bay, Hemel en Aarde Valley, and Maanskynbaai (Moonshine Bay)!
Fernkloof has four “routes” – green, red, blue, and orange. I’m working up to the more challenging orange route and its inner and outer circuits.
Fernkloof covers 7 sq. miles in the Kleinrivier Mountains, including 37 miles of hiking trails, flowering fynbos, thick shrub vegetation, forests, and secluded dams where you can swim on hot days.
Fernkloof’s luxurious fynbos is magnificent! The word fynbos derives from the Dutch word ‘fijn bosch‘ or fine bush.
Fynbos is a “collective name for a myriad of evergreen shrub-like plants with small firm leaves, including woody plants with hard leathery leaves”.
The climate is “Mediterranean with cold wet winters, hot dry summers, and strong south-easterly winds”. I can vouch for the extraordinarily “strong” winds!
“There is no other place on earth where so many distinct fynbos species grow in such proximity. More than 1250 species of plant have been collected and identified in Fernkloof.”
During my hike yesterday, I didn’t see any large mammals but enjoyed birds, mountain pride butterflies, unusual beetles, and lizards. There are several creeks and waterfalls, and I heard, but didn’t see, frogs. Hikers are known to encounter interesting species of turtle plodding along the trails. It would be thrilling to see an elusive Cape Leopard.
Lizards and butterflies are too fast for photos, but I followed a lizard to a rock outcropping near “Adder Ladder”. Considering the name of the trail, I retreated.
“Grey rhebok, Cape grysbok, klipspringer, baboon, mongoose, and dassie are present in small numbers. Nocturnal animals in the Reserve are seldom seen but include the porcupine, genet, hare, and Cape Mountain Leopard.”
I plan to hike Fernkloof often for the exercise and because the refreshing, pristine environment is uplifting and makes me feel happy and content!