Here’s an easy yet spectacular walk for the family. The 7-and-a-bit km hike takes you through a 400 m rise and fall in elevation, from the Palmiet River valley, through an old indigenous forest to glorious views above Betty’s Bay. Photos and a Google Earth track follow…
At the start of the hike you will pass the new eco-cottages that Cape Nature has erected (called Oudebosch) on the site of the old ‘bosdorp‘. These beautifully designed cottages, with their green roofs and solar energy systems would provide the ideal base for a weekend exploration of the reserve.
From the cottages it’s an easy walk up to Oude Bosch, a remnant indigenous forest at the top of the kloof. Ensure that you take the left fork soon after you exit the forest and you will see a view Betty’s Bay and Stony Point unfold through a gap in the mountains. From there it is a spectacular scenic walk across the top of the waterfall, then skirt the precipitous cliffs above Leopard’s Gorge, negotiate a steep zig-zag descent to end in Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, one of the gems of the Cape. Be sure to have left transport back to Kogelberg at the gardens, or stroll back along the coastal road – but this would be a longer walk than the one through the gorge.
My first experience of this place was 32 years ago almost to the day, courtesy of the army, as a conscript. Entrance to the junior leaders course required a 5-day forced march known as Vasbyt 5 (roughly translated as “Grit your teeth for 5″). Our unit’s version of Vasbyt 5 involved walking from Sir Lowry’s Pass, through the heart of the Kogelberg, across the Palmiet, through Leopard’s Gorge and back along coast to Steenbras in five days. Walking along the roads was not allowed and of course the instructors tried to make the march as unpleasant as possible, but the beauty of the mountains, the flora and seascapes was indelibly etched on my mind and Kogelberg is now one of my favourite places on the planet.