How do you find the exact sources of the Nuwejaars River – the namesake of our conservation area?

It’s not all that easy – as we found out.

Researchers have highlighted one of these sources: on the hills/mountains close to the town of Elim.

So we took to the mountains on the Sandberg Fynbos Reserve, which borders on Elim, to find one of these sources. Led by owner and conservationist, Gerhard van Deventer, we 4×4’d and hiked over the hills and through secretive valleys.

 

Until Gerhard pointed out a ‘kloof’ (valley) covered in lush, beautiful fynbos. This kloof forms a wetland during the winter months. From here, the water enters a stream, which joins the Nuwejaars River a few kilometres down.

 

In fact, there’s a fantastic story connected to this source. Some years ago, the ‘kloof’ could hardly be seen, because it was completely covered in invasive trees. Through years of effort and investment, the patch is now clear – and more water from the stream can now reach the river (these alien trees consume hundreds of litres of water EVERY DAY).

The other headwaters of the Nuwejaars River are on the slopes of the Bredasdorp Mountains, the Koue Mountains and the slopes of the Soetanys Mountains. The river is 55km in length, from its most western source, to where the Nuwejaars and Kars River meet (the overflow channel of Soetendalsvlei).

 

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More on the Sandberg Fynbos Reserve…

 

This source on Gerhard’s reserve is special, not only because of its contribution to the river, but also for its range of fynbos species.  As we experienced with our travel companions (members of the Southern Overberg Botanical Society, SANBI and CREW), the farm is almost completely covered in fynbos (all 700 hectares). And Gerhard works hard to keep it free of invasive alien species.

Gerhard has also fought against converting this fynbos to other (often more lucrative) agricultural activities. Today he uses his fynbos knowledge to teach others how to harvest sustainably (working with Flower Valley Conservation Trust), and leads fynbos hikes over his special property.

And, if you put in a special request, he may even take you to the secret source of the Nuwejaars River.

Email: sandbergfynbosreserve@gmail.com

Tel 076 012 3882