We were contacted by our friends, Richard and Ella, and asked if we’d like to join them at Rocherpan Nature Reserve for a couple of days? What a question…yes please! Not only was it a great opportunity to get out of town but also a very welcome distraction from our ongoing Land Rover problem.
There was more to the invitation than just enjoying a couple of days away at Rocherpan though. Ella has researched a lot of support groups for people with mobility challenges and recently connected with Deirdré Gower from the Warrior On Wheels Foundation. They’ve been tasked to assess accessibility at a number of Cape Nature’s reserves. Rocherpan was their first assignment and Richard and Ella were invited to join them there to help with the assessment. Ella very kindly thought of Pippa and I and asked if we could be part of the group…We’re very grateful that Deirdré agreed.
The 2 hour drive up the west coast in Pippa’s little Honda Jazz was uneventful. Pippa wasn’t impressed with some of my disparaging remarks about her car though and was quick to point out that at least we were still moving…Ouch! 🙂
We arrived at Rocherpan early in the evening and quickly settled into the cottage that we shared with Richard and Ella. What a nice setup! Easy access along wooden boardwalks from the parking area to the well designed and Universally Accessible cottage.
The eco-friendly toilet was interesting. It’s an up-market ‘long drop’ but there’s absolutely no odour. It’s certainly an excellent water saving solution. A word of warning though…Don’t hold your breath waiting for the splash. It’s waterless! 🙂
The effect of the drought in the Western Cape was very apparent. There was no water in the pan. A pity…it would have been nice to have seen it with all the birds that would normally be there at this time of the year.
In spite of the lack of water we still thoroughly enjoyed the peace and tranquility at Rocherpan. The view from the deck of our cottage with the sun setting beyond the pan and dunes was beautiful!
We had a really pleasant evening, first catching up on news with Richard and Ella and then a little later meeting Deirdré, Rod and the Warrior On Wheels himself…young Damian. Rod gave a brief summary of their history, how they set up their Foundation, what they’ve achieved to date and what they plan to do in the future. Impressive and inspirational to say the least! Have a look here. It’s an amazing story.
We met again the next morning to discuss and share ideas on the facilities and access at Rocherpan which Rod documented for his report to Cape Nature. The staff at the reserve then joined us and we shared our thoughts with them and gave them some ideas that we thought would be useful in their interactions with people with mobility challenges. We were very impressed with their commitment and willingness to provide a positive experience for all visitors to the reserve.
Later in the morning we set off in the Honda to explore the reserve. There were a few areas of the track closer to the far end of the reserve that tickled the undercarriage of our car but we managed without any problems and no damage was done.
There are 2 ‘lookout’ sites on the dunes overlooking the beach but they aren’t accessible to wheelchairs. Cape Nature are exploring different ideas to provide an accessible pathway but it’s difficult with the constant shifting of the dunes. Hopefully a solution will be found soon.
Richard and I sat in our cars enjoying the scenery while Pippa and Ella went walkabout in the dunes to the lookout point. There were some interesting cloud formations and at one point I thought we might be lucky enough to get some rain. It wasn’t to be though…the clouds soon passed over.
After finishing the dunes assessment we went to have a look at the bird hides. Once again Cape Nature have done an excellent job of providing access to wheelchair users. They have a picnic site and an ablution block which is all perfectly accessible. From there they’ve built wooden boardwalks to the bird hides.
The 2 hides that we visited were really nice. The benches inside could be moved to give access to wheelchair users and the viewing slots were at a comfortable level. The only things missing were water and birds! 🙂
We had a very enjoyable braai at our cottage on our final evening at Rocherpan. Good company, a healthy whiskey in hand and another beautiful sunset to look at. Who could ask for more?
I was appointed Braaimaster. Damian was close at hand overseeing operations so I’m going to apportion some of the blame for any over-cooked meat on him! 🙂
We had 2 brief meetings the next morning. The first was with the marketing manager from Cape Nature and then with the marketing manager from the West Coast District Municipality. They both gave an overview of what they were doing to promote tourism and accessibility. It was very encouraging to hear how committed they both were to achieving their goals.
We went to look at the recreational area before finally heading home. There’s a jungle gym for the kids and an attractive swimming pool, which I’m sure is well used in the hot summer months.
Pippa and I both thoroughly enjoyed our short time at Rocherpan. Not only was it a nice break from the city but it was great to see the effort that Cape Nature are making to ensure accessibility for everyone in their Reserves. We’ll certainly be going back!
Warrior On Wheels have published a video which I’m sure will form part of their feedback to Cape Nature. You can view it here.