Fernkloof Nature Reserve in Hermanus is a convenient stopover for nature lovers. Hiking trails keep you busy for between one and five hours. Or stroll through the indigenous nursery and botanical garden before settling down for a picnic in the shade.

Winding its way behind and above the coastal town of Hermanus, Fernkloof Nature Reserve offers a close-up view of the Cape Floral Kingdom. To date 1 474 fynbos species have been identified here, making it a spectacularly diverse 1 800ha area.

The reserve has more than 60km of graded hiking trails, some of the best in Hermanus, that are suitable for all shapes and sizes. The shortest hike takes roughly one hour to complete. While it’s the easiest of the trails, it offers gorgeous views of Hermanus. As you follow the well maintained paths that hug the mountainside, the town comes into view below with homes, harbours, golf courses and blue ocean.

The longest hike takes five hours and rustic overnight accommodation is offered for those who want to spend the night.

From June to November, during whale season, you are also likely to spot southern right whales in Walker Bay from these vantage points. You’d be well advised to bring a pair of binoculars for the occasion.

Birdwatchers will take great delight in the antics of the territorial male long-tail sugarbirds. Sunbirds, grassbirds, boubous, rock thrushes and warblers are also abundant.

The nursery at Fernkloof Nature Reserve is well stocked and invites a stroll through the rows of indigenous fynbos plants. A wheelchair-friendly botanical garden contains beautiful protea and erica species and the signage is very informative.

Next to the botanical garden, you can set down for a picnic on the shaded lawn.

Guided walks are offered by request at a nominal fee. A visitor centre houses a weekly display of plants in flower, and also provides general information and maps of the reserve.