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Harold Porter Botanical gardens

This small fynbos botanical garden is known as the "little Kirstenbosch", and is situated at Betty’s Bay, about 40kms along the R44 coastal road from Gordon’s Bay to Hermanus. Set at the base of the coastal mountain range, the reserve contains excellent examples of the main local habitat-types, namely coastal bush, fynbos, riverine woodland and montane scrub. The entire area can be easily covered in 3 to 5 hours of strolling through pleasantly laid-out paths and hillside trails. During such a period one could expect to see about 40 species (more in summer), including several Cape Endemics.

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Specials

Cape Spurfowl, Cape Grassbird, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Brimstone Canary, Protea Seedeater, Cape Siskin, African Black Duck, African Olive-Pigeon, Olive Woodpecker, Black Saw-wing, Cape Batis, Swee Waxbill, Jackal Buzzard, White-necked Raven, Cape Rock-Thrush, Cape Rock-jumper, Victorin's Warbler, Malachite Sunbird, Cape Eagle-Owl.

At Stoney Point, African Penguin, Cape Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Bank Cormorant and even a few Crowned Cormorant.

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Habitats

The reserve contains excellent examples of the main local habitat-types, namely coastal bush, fynbos, riverine woodland and montane scrub.

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Facilities

The gardens are maintained by the National Botanical Institute, and facilities include a tea room, toilets, parking, graded walks in the gardens, and walking trails in the kloofs.

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Birding

The lower garden area is neatly laid out into a network of paths through protea and endemic bush stands. Two streams run down, from Disa Kloof on the left, and Leopard Kloof on the right. Follow the left stream into the riverine woods, past the small dam and up to the Disa Falls. From there, backtrack to the bridge over the dam and take the hillside trail round the buttress and back down to the gardens via the Leopard Kloof stream. None of these walks require more than minimum fitness.

1. In the car park, look out for Protea Seedeater (not associated with proteas) and Cape Siskin in and the mature trees inside the entrance. Also listen for the call of the Olive Woodpecker here.

2. The gardens are usually alive with Cape Sugarbird and sunbirds, including Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, and Southern Double-collared Sunbird. Bar-throated Apalis, Karoo Prinia and Cape Canary also occur. Look out for Cape Spurfowl, and near the streams, Cape Grassbird and Brimstone Canary.

3. Along the river walk, look for African Olive-Pigeon, Olive Woodpecker, Black Saw-wing, Cape Batis, Swee Waxbill. A pair of African Black Duck are resident on the dam, and Giant Kingfisher is often present. In Summer, the locally scarce Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher can be found with the more common African Paradise-Flycatcher and African Dusky Flycatcher along the woodland paths.

4. Along the mountain trails, listen for the piping call of the Cape Rock-jumper, and the Cape Grassbird-like trilling of the Victorin's Warbler – always easier heard than seen. Malachite Sunbird occur as well. Higher slopes may yield Cape Rock-Thrush, whilst overhead, the resident pair of Jackal Buzzard often display, and are sometimes mobbed by White-necked Raven.

5. Cape Eagle-Owl occurs in the rocky gorge above Disa Kloof. They can often be heard calling early on a winter's evening.

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General

At the entrance, where a small entrance fee is levied, there is a tea room, toilets and indigenous plant nursery. Ample safe parking is available. Toilet and picnic facilities are available near the Disa Dam. The reserve is open from 0800 to 1630 throughout the year. No accommodation is available. The current entrance fee is R10 for adults and R5 for pensioners and children.

To get to Betty's Bay, take the N2 past Somerset West, and take the Gordon's Bay turnoff to the right. Turn left at the T - junction in town, and follow the road past Rooiels. The reserve is signposted off the main road R44 as you pass through Betty's Bay, with the car park and tea room clearly visible from the road.

The garden can be contacted on Tel: +27 28 272 9311 or Fax: +27 28 272 9333. email:
Botanical Gardens Website

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Stoney Point

Whilst in the Betty’s Bay area, a visit to the penguin colony at Stoney Point is usually an interesting and worthwhile deviation. One of only 4 mainland colonies in south Africa, about a hundred breeding pairs of African Penguin co-exist with large numbers of Cape Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Bank Cormorant and even a few Crowned Cormorant. To get to the Point from Harold Porter, return towards Gordons Bay on the R44 for 2 kms, then turn left at the small shopping centre and follow the penguin signs. Admittance is free and access is unrestricted.

Mike Ford 2001.

Afton Grove


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