Kogelberg Nature Reserve. A Retreat to Mountains and Sea.

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As part of the Travel Designer team, who I am lucky enough to be working with, we hosted a select group of international agents for a Retreat to Mountain and Sea following the We Are Africa travel trade show in May this year. Recognising that we all need time off the grid to regroup and recharge, we opted for a few days in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve.

Located just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town and marked as a World Heritage Site, the reserve is tucked between the Palmiet mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean. A pristine 3000ha area that has a rich floral diversity greater than any found elsewhere in the world. Here, from the carefully placed Oudebosch eco-cabins with their beautiful uninterrupted views down the valley, we hiked, tubed, took off-road adventures, enjoyed coastal foraging and savoured the beauty of the serene views across the bay.

Our days took the shape of an intimate escape as we followed a carefully designed itinerary that was soul food for the nature lover, and an ideal way for these UK, USA and Canada based agents to spend the last days of their Southern Cape trip.

A Perfectly Designed Itinerary

We started the trip with a visit to the Lionel Smit art studio in Somerset West, one of our favourite artists and Cape Town Legends, he remains one of South Africa’s greatest painters and sculptors and is best known for his contemporary portraiture and monumental canvases and sculptures. There was coffee passionately brewed and served by Ozzy Yerlikaya who set up his mobile brewing station in the studio, to further warm the hearts. Read about Ozzy’s love for coffee here.

From there we enjoyed the scenic Claren’s Drive out to the Kogelberg Nature Reserve where we stayed at the magnificent and remote Oudebosch Eco-Cabins, with meals by Jade de Waal of Food Jams. A firm favourite, Jade is making an impact on the South African foodie scene and warming the hearts of all she meets with her passion for sustainable food which she prepares with an abundance of humour and love. Sundowners were enjoyed on Betty’s Bay beach where we could sink our toes into the silky white sand, before retiring to the reserve for a night of story-telling around the fire.

In the morning we enjoyed a 2.5-hour hike into the surrounding mountains with expert guides Andreas Groenewald and Patrick Mpanye of the Blue Mountain Trail, a three-night slackpacking trail offered in the Elgin Valley that I have been lucky enough to enjoy. Andreas and Patrick were able to bring the area and its rich fauna and flora to life with their intricate knowledge of the reserve. Arriving at the Palmiet River, many in the group followed this up with a couple of hours tubing down the river with Gravity Adventures. Favouring the adrenalin, in the afternoon we piled into the 4×4’s and ventured out on an off-road adventure on the adjoining land, putting our trademark Land Rover Defenders to the test, before enjoying a signature Travel Designer sunset overlooking the valley.

A highlight for some, the next morning we flew with Silvercross Helicopters to Roman’s Baai to join Roushanna Gray of Veld and Sea for a morning of coastal foraging. A wild food innovator who’s gaining acclaim for teaching about indigenous edible foods through immersive experiences, with her we discovered the exciting flavours and diversity of food to be found on the shoreline. Collecting mussels and seaweed, which formed part of an interactive lunch in her mobile veld kitchen next to the ocean. Craft beers and infused Gins added to the flavour spectrums.

From there it was back to the cabins for a last evening of leisure and loveliness as we rested, chatted and indulged in Jade’s beautiful food. The next day heading off for the airport or home. Off the grid, entirely focussed on our surrounds and the pleasure of each other’s company.

*** Should you wish for us to create a similar experience for you, just say the word info@traveldesigner.com. Filmed by Dale Staples, edited by Tom Wells. Photos by me, leading pic by Alex Oelofse.

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