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Reserve in the Spotlight
Mark Johns

We catch up with Mark Johns, manager of the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. Find out about the reserve's recent award and get the latest on new accommodation developments.

It should come as no surprise that CapeNature recently honoured the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, part of the Kogelberg Biosphere, with the Reserve of the Year award. With its high mountain peaks, fields of fynbos and unspoilt wetlands, the 70 000 ha protected land is breathtakingly beautiful. Add to that 30 000 ha of marine area where visitors regularly spot dolphins and whales, and you have a reserve of rich biodiversity.

What makes the Kogelberg Nature Reserve so special is the approach management has taken in conserving the biodiversity. Conservation takes precedence, so tourism activities are designed to have a low impact on the environment. Think hiking and bird watching, rather than off-roading or quadbiking. The reserve is renowned for its fynbos and alien clearing programmes are under way to preserve this jewel of the Cape Floral Kingdom.

With so much pristine beauty on offer, it's vital that new developments are sensitive to the environment. Renovation of the accommodation is due for completion at the end of November this year and Johns emphasizes that it will fit harmoniously into the scenery.

"An exciting upgrade of accommodation is taking place with construction planned for two separate sites," says Johns. The first development phase will replace the existing wooden cabins with five upgraded cabins, wood framed and clad with fibre-cement board. The new cabins sleep up to 36 overnight visitors and will look just like brick and plaster construction, but with a much lower site impact and higher insulation and comfort values. The colours will be natural palettes to blend in visually as far as possible. This area will also have a recreational facility for everyone to enjoy. This facility can also be used as a small function venue, wedding reception and for conferences and events. The new development will also house an ecological pool.

"The accommodation is designed to be higher quality, more aesthetically pleasing, better integrated into the environment and allowing for more flexible use," says Johns.

Phase two of the development will also offer accommodation. The development of this will take place on an open field near the existing offices. Johns explains that there will also be a communal facility that can host gatherings, meetings and small events – effectively a small open-plan room with the same design aesthetic as the cabins.

There's a lot going right for this reserve and its good work is evident in its recent award for biodiversity. Look out for early booking discounts that will be available as soon as these facilities are opened.

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