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Rooi Els: Where ‘back to basics’ never looked or fe...

Maverick Life

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Rooi Els: Where ‘back to basics’ never looked or felt better

Kogel Bay. Image: Flickr

Nestled between the Kogelberg mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean you will find, if you look closely, the Kogel Bay Resort.

The Kogel Bay Resort, a campsite with uninterrupted views, has a rustic element that whispers “back to basics” – after all, there is always something unique about eating dinner at a campfire lit up only by the Milky Way.

From the Cape Town City Bowl, travelling along the N2, the resort is a mere hour’s drive away. A right turn off the N2 towards Gordon’s Bay takes you onto Clarence Drive – the scenic mountain pass is one of the many breathtaking roads in South Africa; the wraparound mountain range flanking one’s car on the left, while the wild Atlantic leans in on the right.

Roll down your window, take in the sights, listen to the sounds around you and let the sea breeze mesmerise and entice you.

Where to go from there

Rooi Els (Red Alder) is the nearest town, although it is more a hamlet than a town, and it is the first seaside village you meet as you drive along Clarence Drive. It is only a five-minute drive from Pringle Bay if your directions lead you from the opposite side of Clarence Drive.

Laying restfully under the Klein-Hangklip mountain, this lazy sanctuary is best known for its pearly white beach and spectacular bay.

Kogel Bay. Image: Flickr

Perhaps most notable is the silence that engulfs Rooi Els – while many small towns and villages have geared up with modern-day amenities, Rooi Els doesn’t bother with street lights, is protected from noise, and doesn’t have too many tarred roads, so as to preserve the “Biosphere Reserve” it is part of.

In 1998, the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, which begins in the Atlantic Ocean, 7.5km off a resilient and rocky shore, and is surrounded by snow white beaches, was the very first registered biosphere of its kind in South Africa – Biosphere Reserves are ‘new notion’ reserves, which means that there are no fences to keep people out and nature in. The coastal plain, which is embraced on either side by sandstone mountains (rumored to have been birthed as far back as 300 million years ago) as well as the trailing shoreline, covers an area of more than 100,000 hectares and has arguably the highest density of different plant species in the world. It is home to the most complex biodiversity on our planet with more an 1,880 different plant species, of which 77% are endemic and are characteristic of the quintessential and unique Fynbos Biome.

But that’s not all this unique site has to offer – signs of the Khoisan people who called this area “home” can still be found in the Rooi Els cave. Archaeologists exploring the cave found ancient relics dating as far back as the Stone Age – a site worth protecting.

Rooi Els was designed to move slowly and purposefully, paying homage to the vast expanse of nature that borders this village. The beach entices long sunset walks while the stars, unaltered by artificial light, will light the way.

Image: Ibtissame Khattabi
Image: Ibtissame Khattabi

Where to stay

Further down the dirt road from Rooi Els you will find the Hangklip Hotel, a legendary institution that has seen many family memories made.

The Kogel Bay Resort offers “back to basics” camping seconds from the beach. Beware of the baboons who are known to reside among the campers, especially at breakfast, lunch and dinner times – pack food and personal belongings away if you don’t want an unpleasant surprise. 

Take a detour

If you happen to find yourself in this area between June to December and if chasing whales is on your to-do list, you may very well be rewarded with a southern right whale sighting – you can also go kayaking with the seals in nearby Hermanus.

On your scenic drive back to Cape Town, be sure to grab a coffee-on-the-go from trucks along the road. You will find them parked at various lookout points, positioned perfectly to give you one last glance at the sheer chance of the splendour while sipping coffee from their pint-sized mobile bars. DM/ML

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