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Tranquil retreat at Rocherpan Nature Reserve

My partner and I were lucky enough to spend the last weekend of January 2018 at this lovely little Nature Reserve along the West Coast, about 20 mins North of Velddrif. Initially what attracted me to stay at Rocherpan was the allure of a great birding spot on your doorstep. The Reserve is very much orientated towards birders with 4 birds hides positioned around the pan to optimize your birding experience. However the pan is seasonal and with it being summer and the middle of a drought it was dusty dry which meant our weekend was going to involve minimal birding. But all was not lost.

Dry Pan – View from the deck

When we arrived at the accommodation I was genuinely impressed by Capenature and the detail and consideration that went into designing their Eco Friendly cabins. Each one of them is fitted with a solar geyser, waterless loo (which miraculously does not smell) and 2 massive 10 000 liter rainwater tanks. The windows facing south east are small enough to allow the cabin to remain cool during the early morning towards mid day, also good for sleeping in. Further to that each window in the cabin either has a block out blind or curtain which you can close if you do not want the suns rays coming in. The open plan design of the kitchen, dining area and lounge, along with the sliding doors opening up to the deck, rounds off the relaxed feel of the accommodation perfectly. January was very dry so we were lucky enough not to be bothered by any mosquitoes but what is also great about these cabins are that the windows and sliding doors all have mesh shutters so you can leave your doors and windows open without having to worry about anything sneaking into your cabin. There is also a closed combustion fireplace for the colder nights.

On the Friday evening we decided to take a drive to the viewpoint overlooking the beach and were lucky enough to be the only ones there. The viewpoint has picnic benches and an eco loo, perfect if you want to stay a few hours while enjoying some refreshments. We enjoyed the solitude, the view of the beach, a quick dip (of the toes) and the Kelp Gulls floating past us.

The View Point

When we arrived back at the cabin just after 8 we realised that we wouldn’t be able to cook our “easy supper” as it required 30 mins in the oven and unfortunately there was a power failure which Eskom was trying to resolve. Instead of trying to Macgyver something on the gas plates we decided to drive the 25 km’s to Velddrif (unlike most Nature Reserves there was not any travelling time restrictions besides for check in). We phoned a few places en route as we weren’t sure if anything would still be open and luckily found Teyana’s still open. If you are looking for decent Pub type food and atmosphere try Teyana’s. It’s situated right next the river so I can imagine it has a pretty view in the daylight.

Saturday morning was my favourite. I sat on the deck drinking my coffee and watched the bush birds chirping and feeding from shrub to shrub. It was so quiet and serene I wished it could stay like that for the day. Over the course of the weekend I saw a variety of birds by sitting on the deck overlooking the pan. My favourite sightings from the deck includes: Black Harrier, Yellow-billed Kite, African Stonechat, Yellow Canary, Striped field mice and Karoo Scrub Robin.

Saturday late morning we decided to go and have a look at Elandsbay as neither my partner nor I had been there before. I was also hopeful that perhaps there would be some water at Verlorenvlei. The drive was quite scenic and took about 35min (Sightings along the way includes Southern Black Korhaan and a pair of Steenbokkies). We arrived to see no water in this vlei either. Elandsbay is a very sleepy little town from what we experienced, however I am sure  this changes over holidays. We had an okayish seafood lunch at “Die Witmosselpot” before returning to Rocherpan. The drive back seemed to go a bit faster and was also prettier as we now faced the ocean so could really appreciate the West Coast drive. We had a quick stop at “Die skooltjie” farmstall which sells a variety of jams, meat and other homemade products. Definitely worth a stop.

Saturday afternoon and early evening was spent around the salt water swimming pool where we alternated between laying on the soft grass (synthetic), sitting on the picnic benches (while enjoying some refreshments) and swimming. The pool area is surrounded by a latte fence also acting as a windbreak and provides a bit of late afternoon shade.

Swimming Pool area

For our last night we had a braai and sat on the deck enjoying the sunset. It was the perfect evening, the afternoon wind had dropped down and all was calm. Without doubt the best way to spend an evening at Rocherpan.

View from the deck

I can truly recommend Rocherpan Nature Reserve to anyone who just wants to unwind, read a book and spend your weekend relaxing by the pool, the beach, the picnic site or in your cabin this place is perfect. If you’re feeling a bit more active you can do a hike around the reserve and along the beach which would probably take you 3 – 4 hours. Although there is likely to be other people staying at adjacent cabins you would still have some privacy on your deck and in your cabin. If you’re into birding, then yes definitely go there, but check if the pan has water before you go, alternatively you would need to go to Velddrif if you wish to see any waterfowl. Rocherpan really is a lovely West Coast gem.

Velddrif Birding Area

For more information on this Reserve and to book accommodation you can go to the Capenature website: http://www.capenature.co.za/reserves/rocherpan-nature-reserve/

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