Western Cape recommendations - Naturalist road-trip in September

Hello everyone,

My wife and I will have the chance to be in the Cape Town region for the second half of September this fall and plan on going for a 10-day road trip to discover its naturalistic wonders. It will basically be my first time in Africa, and we’d like to make the most of it. We have broad interests in natural history, even though we do focus a lot on plants and birds.

After a bit of reading, we decided that driving East from Cape Town along the coastline to George, and coming back through the inland road would help us see both the Fynbos and the Karoo, while getting a glimpse of the Afrotemperate forests. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the feasibility of such a trip, and recommendations for places to stop by and naturalize.

Here is a short list of the places that stand out to us:

Rooi els
Stony Point (Penguin Colony)
Fernkloof Nature Preserve
Geelkop nature preserve (for the Elim Ferricrete Fynbos)
Cape Agulhas
De Hoop
Bontebok NP
Wilderness NP
Witfontein Nature Reserve

Swartberg ?
Rooiberg ?
Anysberg ?
Swing by Inverdoorn ?

As you can see, things are for now a little less clear for our way back, so we’d welcome any suggestions. Let us also know if the first stops along the coastline are too redundant, and what could be cut. Finally, neither table mountain nor the west coast are currently included in the trip, let us know if that’s a grave mistake. Thanks in advance!


For the first bit Kogelberg

I enjoy botanical gardens Harold Porter at Betty’s Bay

Can’t miss where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. It is not at Cape Point, despite the lazy tourism ads.

Up the West Coast there is the Fossil Park (haven’t been there)
and Rocher Pan

Swartberg Pass. Anysberg.

And coming from city life, nothing beats the Karoo (which is threatened with fracking, no worries about the humungous water use in a semi-desert and contaminating groundwater for sheep farmers and all the local residents!)

PS The Little Karoo is winter rainfall - and has a different set of plants. With the little more delicate succulents sheltering under shrubs.

With the Land Rover we were more adventurous, now we’ve gone electric with September’s spring flowers, and local hikes.


That reminded me – I just now went through Haworthiopsis attenuata and marked the cultivated ones as such. Took the RG observations from 22 down to 14. I have this as a houseplant, and I love it, but I know what iNaturalist is for.

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Thank you so much Diana for your suggestions! I see that your website has a wealth of resource that will be super helpful in planning out my trip. This is great. Also, I might get back to you with some more specific questions, if you don’t mind.

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It is a few years since most of those journeys - so check other sites too. Use mine as a few fresh ideas.

If you’re doing the Garden Route, why not go a little further and check out Addo National Park? It would be a shame to come all the way to South Africa and not see our famous megafauna. Addo would be your best bet of seeing these.

Rooi-Els is fantastic for getting that endemic bird - the Cape Rockjumper. Just be aware that it is a tiny village just off the road (you’ll have to slow down in order to turn into it), and apart from the main entrance point which is tarred, further in it becomes gravel roads. Just something to be aware of when you hire your car. Also watch out for baboons if you decide to stop for lunch!

Since you’re coming in September, I highly recommend you stop off in Hermanus to spot Southern Right Whales - you can literally stand on the coast and see these whales from the shore, they’re that close. They come up all the way from Antarctica to mate and give birth in our waters, and because of the bay’s geology off Hermanus, whales love spending time there. September is one of the best times to see them.


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