Robberg Nature Reserve
Plettenberg Bay is known for many things, not least of all its stunning beaches and holiday homes, and the seemingly never-ending choice of restaurants. However, this area is also home to an enormous number of wildlife centres and sanctuaries. It is in these that the fauna and flora of the Garden Route are preserved and showcased to visitors from all over South Africa and the world.
Situated just 8 kilometres from the hub of the coastal retreat of Plett, as it is affectionately known, is the Robberg Nature Reserve. It is open every day between 07h00 and 17h00. Not only does this reserve provide a wonderful habitat for the many birds, plants and animals found within its borders, but it is also a favoured spot for those who love the South African outdoors.
The Robberg Hiking Trail boasts some of the most breath-taking views imaginable. It is a circular trail that extends along the peninsula and to the point. It is manageable, but the entire route takes about five hours to complete and covers 11 kilometres. The point of the peninsula offers spectacular views and sheer drops, which make it more suitable to older, fitter hikers. There are a number of different, shorter trails that are better suited to those who have little ones with them or time constraints. These start from about 45 minutes in length.
The Cape fur seal colony in the Robberg Nature Reserve is a delight to watch as they occupy the coastal areas and playfully interact with one another. They bark at one another as they sun themselves in languid serenity. In addition, there are plenty of rock rabbits (also known as hyraxes or dassies), the Cape clawless otter, and a variety of small antelope that can be seen roaming the reserve.
Being situated on the coast, visitors to Robberg can often enjoy watching schools of dolphins surfing the waves and frolicking with one another. Between July and December, whales skirt past the coast and are spectacularly exciting to watch as they take their time exploring the warm waters just off the shore.
The Garden Route is brimming with birdlife, and keen birding enthusiasts are reminded to bring their binoculars and bird identification books along. These include sunbirds, starlings, robins and a host of marine birds.
The geology of the Robberg Nature Reserve is one of the major features. There are rock pools and different rock formations that are nothing short of astounding. Massive boulders are coated with bright orange lichens that make them look like beacons against the backdrop of the azure Indian Ocean.
The Cape Seal Lighthouse is the highest of its kind in South Africa at 146 metres above sea level, and is always an impressive sight.
When visiting the Robberg Nature Reserve, guests are reminded to wear plenty of good quality sunscreen, protective clothing and sunglasses. Drinking water and a camera are also essential to making this a memorable experience.