For months I’ve been hiking Table Mountain and Cape Town’s outlying nature reserves. The Western Cape has so many beautiful reserves it will take a long time to visit them all! Last weekend the hike was at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve near Stellenbosch.
“Jonkershoek is one of four nature reserves that are part of the greater Cape Winelands Biosphere – a World Heritage Site registered by UNESCO in late 2007. The Biosphere reserve is gorgeous – beautiful is an understatement.”
Jonkershoek Reserve is surrounded by the Jonkershoek Mountains, a part of the larger Boland Mountain Range, which in turn is part of the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. The area is strikingly beautiful with hiking trails embraced by magnificent blue jagged peaks. Thick fynbos vegetation is heaven for sunbirds and sugarbirds.
There are two major waterfalls in the Jonkershoek Reserve. The hike to Tweede Waterval (second waterfall in Afrikaans) flows along the fertile hills of Guardian Peak (Blaauwklippen Valley in Afrikaans). Guardian Peak, also called the “Hidden Valley”, is well-known for its popular restaurants and wine estates, including those in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl.
The ascent to the waterfall was steep, windy, and rocky. Bordered by bud-laden protea forests, the scenic trail is rich in mountain fynbos, and rock pools ending in a wooded cove near the base of Tweede Waterfall. I’m fascinated by exotic Cape Proteas! Hundreds of different protea types flourish in South Africa’s rich fynbos vegetation.
If you wanted to get closer to the waterfall, you were sure to get wet. Some in our hiking group removed their boots and climbed to the base of the waterfall barefooted. Others stayed behind in the cove and enjoyed more distant views. After climbing in the cool spray over a few slippery boulder-sized rocks, I decided it was too risky, wimped out, and returned to the cove.
Taking a leisurely pace, we returned via Jonkershoek’s first waterfall – also impressive. The brisk clear winter weather was perfect for hiking. After a peaceful, inspiring day enjoying nature we stopped at an outdoor café for well-deserved cappuccino.
Now that I’ve been in Cape Town for almost six months I’m considering moving to a less-populated outlying suburb for contrast. Stellenbosch and Somerset West near the Helderberg Mountains, Hout Bay, Gordons Bay, Fish Hoek, and Hermanus are interesting possibilities.