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It’s hard to believe that there was a major oil spill at Goukamma Nature Reserve last month. There is plenty of natural beauty around, especially for such a small reserve, and whatever oil is left on the beach is minimal and hard to notice.



I’ve spent the past few days walking the various Goukamma trails in the reserve, on both the beaches and the vegetated dunes alongside the coast. These are covered in coastal fynbos, and the spring flowers are starting to emerge.

A fly pollinates a sour fig flower.

I also borrowed the reserve’s little boat to explore Groenvlei. This is an inland, natural body of freshwater that has no rivers flowing into it or out of it. It’s essentially groundwater that is trapped between the high vegetated dunes, and it makes for superb birding. A thick forest of Milkwood trees lines the southern banks of the vlei and a pair of resident Fish Eagles are commonly seen perched on one of the many gnarly old branches.

One of the resident fish eagles at Groenvlei… a shy, retiring type. I’m so used to the bushveld fish eagles that pose all day for you!

But best of all, for me at least, was spotting a Cape clawless otter! In fact, I spotted two! They were foraging in among the phragmites reeds on the edge of the vlei, causing an almighty commotion among the cormorants. Perhaps they were looking for bird eggs? Anyway, the otters were skittish, and they peeked at me from just above the surface of the water, before swimming away into the reeds.

The Cape clawless otter that was checking me out at Groenvlei. Cute!
But those teeth are sharp!

Once again, I’m amazed and humbled by the diversity of life. Despite it’s small size, Goukamma packs a serious punch, and like many other reserves that I have visited, the more you look, the more you discover. If you take the time to notice things, you soon realise that nature is a never-ending source of inspiration – and photography!

Goukama Goukama

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Photojournalist Scott Ramsay focuses on exploring the national parks, nature reserves and community conservancies in Southern Africa, taking photographs and interviewing the experts who work in these protected areas. Through his work, he hopes to inspire others to travel to the continent's wild places, which Scott believes are Africa's greatest long term assets. For more, go to or Partners include Ford Ranger, Goodyear, Cape Union Mart, K-Way, EeziAwn, Frontrunner, Hetzner and Globecomm.

Africa Geographic Travel
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