CapeNature opened its four newly built cabins at Rocherpan in August. These are eco-cabins, sporting waterless loo (something of a curiosity but very effective), solar heating (supplemented by electrical power if necessary), rainwater accumulated in two large concrete tanks for each cabin and filtering of grey water, which does not enter the pan.
Pat Waddell and I spent a few days at Rocherpan and found the cabins comfortable and fully equipped for a stay-over. They are advertised as accommodating four persons but this will not suit all as the sleeping arrangements are 1 double bed and 1 double sleeper couch. These are the first four cabins to be built and are sited possibly a little close to the road, as some visitors have commented on traffic noise. We did not find this particularly intrusive, as it is intermittent. A further four cabins - larger with two bedrooms - are planned closer to the pan.
The cabins look out onto pristine Sandveld and across to the pan. The birdlife is amazing. We sat on the porch and watched Cape Bunting, Karoo Scrub-Robin, Karoo Prinia, Barthroated Apalis, Grey Tit, Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler, Acacia Pied Barbet, Yellow and White-throated Canary,White-backed Mousebird, Bokmakierie, Malachite Sunbird and surprisingly Karoo Thrush. Water level in the pan was high following good rains, so waders were not much in evidence but there were large numbers of Greater Flamingo, Red-knobbed Coot (an armada!), Black-winged Stilt, South Afrrican Shelduck and the inevitable Egyptian Geese. The reeds were buzzing with Southern Red Bishop and the odd "bumble-bee" Yellow Bishop. Our birdlist totalled 67 over two days.
There are two bird-hides on the pan which presently are accessed via the old Rocherpan gate, but a walking route from the cabins is being planned, as is a full walking trail. For the botaniser, the Sandveld vegetation is a treat, with lots to challenge id skills - a mass of flowers now in early summer. The adjacent Atlantic coastline is a marine protected area.
The accommodation is priced at R490/night per cabin (30% discount for pensioners) and no conservation fee for Wild Card holders. Bookings are through CapeNature 021 483 0190.
Rocherpan is an easy run from Cape Town, some 25km north of Velddrif, and it made for a relaxing and pleasant break with good birding.