Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve
Entering the ocean at Muizenberg on Cape Town’s False Bay coast, the 300-hectare Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve is home to more than 150 species of birds, as well as around twenty species of reptiles and amphibians, and a number of interesting mammal species, including grysbok, otters, mongoose and porcupines. The estuary is important to the conservation of fish such as steenbras and stumpnose, both of which are endemic to the south and east coast waters of South Africa. Vegetation is typical strandveld, low growing scrub and succulents endemic to Cape Town’s coastal areas.
An environmental education center at Zandvlei raises awareness of the importance of conservation, and the reserve is home to the a yacht club, canoe club and the base of the Sea Scouts. Sailing and rowing regattas are held in the area, with the Kon-Tiki raft building competition, organised by the Sea Scouts, being a popular annual event.
Visitors to Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve will not want to pass up the opportunity of exploring Muizenberg and enjoying its spectacular beaches, home to a vibrant surfing community. Attractions in Muizenberg include the historic post house, Het Posthuys, and Rhodes’ Cottage where influential businessman, mining magnate and politician Cecil John Rhodes (1853-1902) spent his final years. Rhodes’ Cottage is open to the public as a museum, and visitors will find fascinating information about Rhodes’ life and career, as well as other historic events, such as the Battle of Muizenberg, that took place in what is now a peaceful suburb of Cape Town. Dating back to 1742, Het Posthuys (the Post House) is one of South Africa’s oldest buildings. The Dutch East India Company built it as a toll-house for collecting taxes from farmers who were selling produce to ships in Simon’s Bay.
Primarily due to urbanization, strandveld vegetation is considered to be endangered, and by extension the wildlife it supports is threatened. But conservation spaces, such as the Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve, are striving to preserve the remaining areas of this unique vegetation, which becomes a carpet of colours in spring and is a haven for wildlife all year around.