Development, growth, probably two of the words that get me the most concerned. What if everyone, all seven-plus billion of us just did a little development and expansion? Imagine the impact. But, there is genuinely some development that has limited impact and can truly make a difference. The Mbali collection is just such an initiative.
- Kogelberg Nature Reserve is slightly more than an hours drive from Cape Town
- 18000ha Biosphere Reserve in the Cape Floral Region
- Remote self-catering come prepared
- Office and shop open office hours only
- Ideal for hiking, mountain biking and trail running
- No cellular phone reception - hike or bike with someone for safety
Kogelberg Nature Reserve is a fantastic 18,000ha biosphere reserve and a World Heritage Site right in the middle the Cape Floral Kingdom just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town. The sheer remoteness and solitude of the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, right in the middle of the wine country, surrounded by beaches and marine reserves, will take your breath away.
Kogelberg Nature Reserve is situated just past Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay close to Kleinmond which also forms the buffer area for the Biosphere Reserve. All these towns are top-rated beach holiday destinations in their own right. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the area is the Penguin colony in Betty’s Bay.
In 2020, Cape Nature, the custodians for this unique reserve, launched the new extension to their current prize-winning, eco-certified sustainable self-catering cottages, the Mbali collection. Mbali is the isiZulu word for flower, a very descript name not only for the cottages but also for the fantastic surroundings.
Usually, I would cringe even at the promise of sustainable development as even units running on solar with the limited impact still has a footprint that takes away from the conserved area. But, these cottages are different. The developers have thought of every aspect of green design, not only the climate impact but also every aspect of the conservation impact.
Firstly, the cottages are developed above the ground using sustainably sourced wood in such a way that they can be moved if required and so life can exist under them. The cabins use the latest in composting technology, solar and other green technologies. The best part for me is the roof structure which is developed in such a way that the vegetation grows on the roof, not only reducing the footprint of the cottages but also providing cool comfort for the hot days.
The Mbali collection provides a selection of six or two sleeper cabins. My evening was spent in the two sleeper cabin. The amenities include everything you need to cook and braai. But, just a word of warning, due to the remoteness it is advised to come prepared. Buy your food and biodegradable toiletries before the time. The resort provides some necessary supplies like snacks and firewood, but, be sure to get hold of management before the office close; this is not an after-hours service.
The cottages are linked by well-designed elevated walkways raised above the ground to enable the little critters and plant life to thrive underneath, supporting the resorts overall green design. All the walkways lead to the central feature, the eco-pool, naturally filtered and fed by river water. It provides a welcome relaxing environment after a day filled with outdoor activities, the reserves main attraction.
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Due to the sheer size and the beauty of the reserve, it is a popular destination for cyclists, trail runners and hikers. The reserve has some well-marked hiking trails that are free to use for residents, and open to day visitors for the very reasonable conservation fee. For the mountain bikers, the reserve provides a fantastic selection of jeep track so remote they seem never to end.
So what is my overall impression? If you are an outdoor junky like me, want to support conservation, and as a bonus limit your impact on the environment, this is your spot. Tourism funds conservation, but, conservation tourism is under immense pressure due to the COVID 19 pandemic. In the words of Prince William, “I have big concerns if we can’t get tourism back in Africa”. By supporting Kogelberg Nature Reserve’s sustainable tourism, you support conservation.