Monday, 29 August 2011

Palmiet River Day Hike

We set out early heading in the direction of Kleinmond. The sunrize was excuisite as we rounded the mountain. The Kogelberg sighnpost crept up on us and we nearly performed a handbrake-turn off the highway and onto the gravel road that leads to the reserve.

Region: Overberg
Nearest Town: Kleinmond
Trail Distance: 18km (3-7 hours)
This palmiet river day hike is within the Kogelberg Nature Reserve and is often considered the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, because of the exceptional quality of its fynbos. The reserve lies within the Hottentots Holland mountain range.
Kogelberg is situated some 90 km south-east of Cape Town, and comprises a core area of 18 000 ha and several smaller fragments. The reserve is sign-posted from the coastal road (R44), and a gravel road leads for 3 km through private property to the entrance. The coastal town of Kleinmond is about 8 km south-east of the reserve.
We checked in at the small office, soon we were on our way.
With mountains on either side of us we reached the palmiet river.  The Palmiet River is a typical Western Cape river, experiencing winter rainfall. It has a small catchment area with five irrigation and hydro-power dams along its length. It provides water for agricultural and industrial uses, as well as to the city of Cape Town.

Soon we came across our firs swimming hole. The water looked inviting but we only spent a few minutes there admiring the views and filling up water bottels. The Sewejaartjies was everywhere. They are a nuturally occuring part of the fynbos of the Cape. They are a very important part of the dried flower industry and were once used to stuff matresses. The more common one is white but there was also a "Strawberry" Everlasting but this is now very scarce
I don't know if these qualify as the strawberry kind, but they were beautifull. These were not the only fynbos that we encountered.
From the 'watering hole' we turned a little bit away from the river. The path is very good and the scenery is absolutely fantastic.
The blue mountains in the distance were majestic. The fynbos surrounding us filled our nostrils with that distinctive smell. The smell that reminds you that you are outside in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom.
We came across this beautifull Protea-bus. About to bloom. If you think that these buds are beautifull;  just imagine how special they will be when the flowers are in full bloom!

The route is very flat and very easy to hike. Soon we approached another swimming spot. This time we did not let the oppertunity go to waste. 

We descended apon the perfect swimming hole complete with it't very own beach. :) We were al alone just the two of us surrounded wiht the beautifull landscape. The water was freezing but the day was hot. It is a bit intimidating swimming out to the center of the 'pool' not knowing how deep the water is or what is lurking in the depths below!
We saw some tracks in the soft sand down by the water. I thought that it was probably baboon tracks but Stiaan was convinced that is was leopard! At the time I smirked and mumbled that he is crazy, BUT then I read an article on a leapard sensus held in this exact area and they counted no less that 18 cape leopards in the area!

The Cape Leopard is smaller than it's northern cousins, but a leopard is a leopard and... "if you come across one in the bush unexpectedly you don't stop to count it's spots!" - Herman Charles Bosman

After a lovely swim and the slightly worrysome discovery  we headed further along the path.
Soon we came across this beautifull dragonfly,

And a quick look back, what a view!
This tree showed signes of a fire in the area last year. It is amazing how these plants recover and even trive after a devastating fire.

A couple of more views of the palmiet river before we turned back and headed towards the car once more.
This was a beautifull hike and I would definatelly do it again and again!
We ended this perfect day with a ice cold beer at a seefront restaurant in kleinmond.


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