Destination De Mond
Words and pics by Kate Collins
A Cape hare with large soft eyes welcomed me to De Mond Nature Reserve. The hare soon disappeared into surrounding fynbos, a special reminder of inhabitants that frequent protected areas. While not as well known as other seaside destinations in the area, for example Arniston, Struisbaai and Agulhas, De Mond offers magnificent scenery and a variety of activities.
The reserve, though small and cosy, comprises a complete estuarine bionetwork. The Heuningnes changes from a freshwater river to a briny river ecosystem until it finally flows into the open ocean. Here you’ll find turquoise waters, snow-white sand and, in winter and spring, whales in abundance as they arrive to breed and nurse their calves.
For many De Mond is known primarily for angling. With a bridge across the estuary it’s easy to access either riverbank. Boats are not allowed, which has kept the estuary pristine. Fish to seek include mullet, grunter, round herring and leervis (garrick). Swimming is also popular in the estuary or for those wanting an ocean dip.
On foot there’s no end to the sights, sounds and smells to take in as you begin exploring. The 7km Sterna Trail takes you through limestone fynbos towards the beach. In spring the trail comes alive with wildflowers but, once at the beach, the real show begins. I visited the reserve during whale season and there was something wonderfully intimate about watching whales without anyone else around.
Birdwatchers should bring binoculars and look out for the African black oystercatcher, breeding colonies of the threatened Damara and Caspian terns and blue cranes. The reserve recently had Cape cormorants breeding in the area for the first time.
If you simply want to marvel at your surroundings, head straight for the viewpoint. Walk across the bridge and up a small hill towards the reserve bench. From here you’ll have 360 degree views of the dunes, azure waters and an untamed sea.
On the reserve there is only one cottage that sleeps six people, but future plans include the addition of more accommodation. I would highly recommend taking friends, family or a special person along.
Source: Wild Magazine