Scenic tour: Rooi Els, Pringle Bay and the Penguin colony in Betty's Bay

Scenic tour: Rooi Els, Pringle Bay and the Penguin colony in Betty's Bay

On the way to the Whale Coast in Hermanus from Cape Town, why not drive the scenic R44 route via Rooi Els, Pringle Bay to the Southern African Penguin Colony in Betty's Bay.

This view you will encounter is just absolutely amazing. On your left, you will see the ultimate Fynbos reserve Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. On your right, a picture of the ocean and False Bay, the beauty is breathtaking. It even includes a view of the back of Table Mountain in the distance. You will find walking trails, parking areas to experience the view so take your time. I made this fantastic image along the route to try and portray the natural beauty.

Rooi Els and its amazing seabirds

The road will snake and wind past Steenbras River mouth where you can find one of the most picturesque walks in the area the Cristal Pools hike. A little further down the road, you will reach Cool Bay a favourite surf spot for the locals. Be sure to check the status of the Shark flag before you venture into the surf. The first tiny town you encounter will be Rooi Els.
The town is part of the expanded Kogelberg Biosphere reserve and locals are very protective of the natural heritage. Venture onto the beach with your camera, and you will catch some amazing seabird images. I took these photos on my Nikon P900 bridge camera with its fantastic zoom capability.

Pringle Bay

Drive a little further past Pringle Bay a lovely arty little town well worth a visit. The town boasts some amazing quaint restaurants and is most well known as a holiday town.
Holiday accommodation is regularly available. Some of these holiday homes sport amazing views of the Bay.

Betty's Bay Penguin Colony

Drive a little further along the same route, and you will find Betty's Bay.
When you speak about the Jackass Penguin or African Penguin, you immediately think of the well known Penguin Colony in Boulders Beach near Simons Town in the Cape Town Area. The Boulders Penguin colony has become such a tourist hub that you will find all the amenities you would expect from a tourist hotspot. Betty's Bay colony not only is more cost-effective; you may find the smaller crowds more appealing.
The Betty's Bay penguin colony itself is hidden away, but your friend Google Maps will provide you with exact directions. On arrival, you will find a visitor centre/restaurant which has the basics, nothing fancy. Immediately you will be noticing the stars of the show, penguins are everywhere, relatively accustomed to humans hanging around. Great photography subjects.
Before you enjoy the rest of your journey why not have a look at the other birds on offer at the reserve. These teenage Cape Cormorants must almost be ready to leave the nest. Imagine how much work it is to feed them.

Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve

Our final part of the journey before you reach the main town of Betty's Bay is the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. Although most of the areas you have been driving through along our route has been part of the Biosphere Reserve, you can visit the central reserve and enjoy a hike, mountain bike ride or stay in one of their award-winning green accommodation units. You can visit the reserve from Harold Porter National Botanical Garden, a trendy tourist destination in its own right. 
Why not visit the Reserve with a professional guide, contact Gantouw tours who hosts regular Fynbos tours from Harold Porter.
Andreas Groenewald
Andreas GroenewaldGantouw Tours & Excursions
Not "just another walk or a hike", we offer hands-on, interactive, educational nature guiding, hikes and walks, exploring the Cape while having fun. Contact Gantouw Tours & Excursions

Betty's Bay Town

The town of Betty's Bay is the biggest in the area and sports many conveniences that Rooi Els and Pringle Bay don't. You will find the central shopping district, a harbour area with some lovely restaurants. If you decide to stick around you may be able to spot a sunset like this one. Truly enjoy your holiday and the fantastic natural beauty in the area and let me know how you experienced it.
Adriaan Buys
Adriaan BuysEnvironmentalist, Speaker & Green Strategy Consultant
Adriaan Buys, the founder of As an environmental journalist and speaker, he is passionate about telling the stories of those who cannot speak. Adriaan assists businesses with green strategy design. He holds a PhD in Environmental Management. Contact him for consulting or keynote speaking engagements at

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