Fernkloof Nature Reserve covers 18 square kilometres in the Kleinrivier Mountains in Hermanus and ranges in altitude from sea level to 842 m.
The name of the principal vegetation type of this region, fynbos, is derived from the Dutch word ‘fijn bosch’ which is the collective name for a myriad of evergreen shrub-like plants with small firm leaves, often rolled – but also includes woody plants with hard leathery leaves, usually broad.
The prevailing climate is Mediterranean with cold wet winters and hot dry summers with strong south easterly winds.
The Fernkloof Nature Reserve comprises 0.002% of the Cape Floral Kingdom but contains 18% of its plants in just 18 square kilometres. There is no other place on earth where so many different species can be seen growing in such close proximity. More than 1250 species of plant have thus far been collected and identified in the Reserve itself.
The Reserve lies across almost the entire northern side of the town with a 60 km network of trails. These provide the opportunity for people of all fitness levels to enjoy some exercise and fresh air.
A display of some of the flowers that can be found in the veld at any specific time is permanently maintained at the Fernkloof Visitors’ Centre. Grey rhebok, Cape grysbok, klipspringer, baboon, mongoose and dassie are present in small numbers. Others such as porcupine, genet and hare are nocturnal and these mammals are seldom seen.
Although not as rich in bird-life as other areas in South Africa, 100 bird species have been recorded. Species most likely to be seen include the Cape Sugar bird, sunbirds, Rock thrush and Rock Jumper. Raptors include the Jackal buzzard and Black eagle. Limited areas of forest alongside streams support numbers of seed and insect-eating species such as Rameron pigeon, canaries, flycatchers and white-eyes.
The various trails offer magnificent and unequalled views of Walker Bay, the Hemel en Aarde Valley and Maanskynbaai. The custodians of Fernkloof Nature Reserve include the Overstrand Municipality, the Fernkloof Advisory Board and the Hermanus Botanical Society.
The Hermanus Botanical Society has a mandate to protect the flora and fauna and is heavily involved in educating people on the need for conservation of the Reserve.
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