Let nature work its magic at Rocherpan
A farmer’s efforts in 1839 to improve grazing for his livestock inadvertently formed one of the Cape West Coast’s richest avian reserves.
Pierre Rocher blocked off the mouth of the Papkuils River, forcing the water to flow behind some dunes that separated the Atlantic from the sandveld. Unknowingly, he forged a pan, or vlei, that became the perfect environment for waterfowl, attracting such a variety of birds that over a century later the area was declared a nature reserve.
The 914ha Rocherpan Nature Reserve is found 25km north of Velddrif near Dwarskersbos. Dry between the months of March and June, the pan runs an impressive 6km in length when full, covering more than 110ha. Spring is particularly scenic here, when wildflowers cover the area en mass.
Host to 183 bird species, of which 70 are waterbirds, the reserve is known particularly for its black oystercatcher population and the kelp gull. Pelicans and lesser flamingos are 2 endangered species that have also made Rocherpan their home.
It’s a spot where you can sit back and allow nature to soothe you ... but not for long – the beach invites endless walks along a coastline so unspoilt that in 1988 a stretch of sea adjacent to the reserve was itself declared a protected marine area. It is not unusual to spot whales between June and September.
There’s also a walking trail, bird hides and picnic spots to enhance your enjoyment.
The beach invites endless walking along a coastline so unspoilt that in 1988 a stretch of sea adjacent to the reserve was itself declared a protected marine area.
CapeNature, which manages the site, has built 4 eco-cabins for the use of guests. The attractive structures take eco-consciousness to new levels with composting toilets and solar-heated showers. Used or grey water is directed away into dry areas so that the reserve’s saline water table is not contaminated.
The cabins, which sleep up to 4 people, have their own wooden decks with braai areas, as well as sliding glass doors to make the most of the views.
Indoor fireplaces keep out the chill in winter and add to the romance factor. The eco-cabins are great place to escape the real world and let nature work its magic.