When Pierre Rocher created a hen Pierre Rocher created a pan for his cattle in 1839, he probably did not realise it would become an important resource for wetland birds and a treasure trove for twitchers. Rocherpan is a seasonal vlei, open all year round. It has become a convenient West Coast weekend destination for residents of the Mother City, and a birder’s delight, but there is something for everyone.
One thing is guaranteed: you’re going to make friends. The local birdlife members are relatively tame and often perch on the railings of the chalets – if you forget to close the mosquito blinds, some of them even venture inside
Rocherpan appeals to families, groups of friends, adrenaline junkies, and those seeking a spot to just kick back and relax. It is a rather understated destination, where you can disconnect from the city and reconnect with nature and friends in the sandveld environment. It’s an Instagrammer’s delight too, and an excellent place to hone your photography skills.
Sundowners are essential at Rocherpan: western rays break the skyscapes and can be viewed from the beach or the deck of your eco-cabin.
The reserve was established in 1966 by CapeNature. It has since expanded, and a 150-hectare marine reserve was set up in 1988 along its coastal boundary. The reserve is home to 183 bird species, including the black oystercatcher, the kelp gull and the Cape shoveler.
In season, it’s also a popular wildflower destination, with a range of indigenous fynbos and flora. In 2012, the critically endangered Cape horned pondweed (Pseudalthenia aschersoniana), a type of aquatic plant, was discovered in the pan.
Although the reserve is fairly small, there are a few trails through the fynbos, the longest being nine kilometres. The fynbos is alive with birdlife, small rodents and tortoises, and runners, walkers and bikers can choose their trails based on their fitness level. Guests can take a dip in the pool or play a round of putt-putt among the restios.
During 2018 the Western Cape was crippled with water restrictions and water still remains a concern. Rocherpan prides itself on its eight well-designed eco-cabins, and plans on taking infrastructure further off-grid by introducing mist nets for atmospheric water harvesting, a process that turns water vapour into water. The eco-cabins currently have solar geysers and waterless toilets, and make use of rainwater harvesting.
Things to do at Rocherpan
- Angling: Get your fishing permit from the nearest post office.
- Beach days: Isolated bliss, but be wary of currents when swimming.
- Mountain biking: The 930-hectare reserve has designated routes.
- Picnicking: Stunning picnic facilities for braais.
- Whale watching: Southern rights visit from June to November.
Written by Georgina Lockwood
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