Fernkloof Nature Reserve covers 1800 ha in the Kleinrivier Mountains above Hermanus and ranges in altitude from sea level to 842 m. In late 1957, the Reserve was proclaimed by the Provincial Council of the Cape. It protects coastal and fynbos and a small patch of evergreen forest. Parts of the coastal area including the Cliff Path Nature Area, the Mossel River valley and the area from De Mond to Kettle Point, including the mouth of the Vogelgat River and part of the Klein River lagoon have recently been incorporated in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. This means that the coastal area with its unique fynbos – different from that on the mountain slopes – as well as the sensitive lagoon area, are now being included, and for the first time mountain and coastline will be linked.
There is no other place on earth where so many different species can be seen growing in such close proximity. In Fernkloof 1474 species have thus far been collected and identified.The name of the principal vegetation type of this region 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, often rolled. The prevailing climate is Mediterranean with cold wet winters and hot dry summers with strong south easterly winds.
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, 92 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 reserve lies on the northern side of the town with a 60 km network of trails.These provide the opportunity for people of all fitness levels to go out and enjoy some exercise and fresh air. A display of some of the flowers that can be found in the veld is permanently maintained at the Fernkloof Visitors’ Centre. The various trails offer magnificent and unequalled views of Walker Bay, the Hemel en Aarde Valley and Maanskynbaai