Tag Archives: hiking

Hiking up the Hill at the Tygerberg Nature Reserve in Bellville (2018-04-29) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 30 APR 2019

Bellville’s 300 hectare large nature reserve in the form of Tygerberg Nature Reserve offers a great opportunity for locals to stretch their legs in nature without really having to go anywhere. And while it may not be a mountain, Tygerberg Hill still rises high enough to give you a great view of Cape Town, the mountain and its suburbs.

Home to around 500 different plant species, a large number of birds and a couple of small animals to be spotted, Tygerberg Hill also serves as a popular environmental education hub for local school excursions.

There are quite a couple of short trails that criss-cross all over the reserve, meaning that in theory you can put together just about any walk to suit your needs. The hill also has a trail accessible by wheelchairs, as well as a couple of simple picnic spots dotted around.

Last year Ryan, Chantelle and I went for a nice and sweaty stroll around the hill, and these are the pictures that I ended up with. (Always a good excuse for micro stopping when the going gets tough!)

Always a lovely outing.

Related Link: Tygerberg Nature Reserve | Tygerberg Hills | Bellville

Hiking and Picnics at the Helderberg Nature Reserve in Somerset West (2017-10-21) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 25 MAR 2019

At the top of Somerset West, situated on the slopes of the Hottentots Holland Mountains, and overlooking False Bay, you’ll find the Helderberg Nature Reserve, a City of Cape Town owned and managed nature reserve.

Pushed by the Rotary Club of Somerset West, the Helderberg Nature Reserve was proclaimed as a wildflower garden (and to protect water resources in Somerset West) in 1960, but over time morphed into a proper nature reserve with the now 402-hectare reserve protecting a swathe of Swartland shale renosterveld, Kogelberg sandstone fynbos, Cape Winelands shale fynbos and Southern afro-temperate forest pockets.

The lower reaches of the park is home to large lawns, popular with families for the hosting of picnics, birthday parties and the occasional music concert, as well a small coffee shop and the Maskew Miller Educational/Visitors Centre.

Then there are of course all the walking and hiking paths scattered around the reserve, catering to nature lovers of all fitness levels. So as you would expect, there are plenty of beautiful examples of fynbos flowers to admire and even more superb views to take in – unless of course your children have pinned you down to the lawns and you’ve been forced to nap in the shade of one of the many massive trees overlooking the picnic space.

A terrible proposition, I know… ;)

All in all, a wonderful space for a deep breathe of fresh Helderberg air then.

Related Link: Helderberg Nature Reserve | Somerset West

Making Our Way up Tygerberg Hill in the Tygerberg Nature Reserve, Bellville (2018-05-06) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 07 FEB 2019

If you feel like a good walk but don’t necessarily feel like tackling a proper mountain, you could always opt for the Tygerberg Nature Reserve, i.e. head out for a walk up Tygerberg Hills.

The nature reserve itself is 300 hectare in size and is situated in Bellville, i.e. the northern suburbs of Cape Town. The reserve is home to the highly threatened Swartland Shale Renosterveld vegetation type, which in turn houses nearly five hundred different plant species. There are also a large number of bird species and small animals to seen, as well as the Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre with its library and resource centre. (The nature reserve is popular venue for school excursions and education programmes).

And then of course there is the additional perk of having an excellent view no matter which direction you look!

As for Chantelle, Ryan and myself though? We were just there for the long, sweaty hot walk.

Bonus Fact: Swartland Shale Renosterveld is usually punctuated with a lot of large termite mounds, which all work together to create light ‘spots’ in the vegetation when looked at from afar. These ‘spots’ are in fact behind the name of Tygerberg – tiger mountain – because at that point in time, people in the Cape assumed tigers had spots.

Related Link: Tygerberg Nature Reserve | Tygerberg Hills | Bellville

Pedal Carts and Craft Beer at Dirtopia on Delvera Farm in Stellenbosch (2017-08-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 JUL 2018

Delvera (out on the R44 in the Stellenbosch winelands) has now for a long time billed itself as an “agri-village”, a farm estate hosting a lot of little shops focused on arts & crafts, food and kids activities.

Over the years a lot of these businesses have come and gone, but by far the biggest player still left standing in the complex is Dirtopia, the outdoor, off-road event & trail construction company that bases itself out of the Dirtopia Trail Centre at Delvera – which itself was established to provide active travelers with mountain biking, hiking and trail running information (and equipment), as well as serve as a base for permit sales for a range of trails in the Klapmutskop Conservancy.

Dirtopia has also absorbed what used to be known as the Simonsberg Cafe into its operations, renaming the restaurant to Dirtopia Cafe in keeping with the brand. Not that this was the last of their expansions mind you: the team also took over the operation of Oakleaf Lodge, rebranding the lodge to Dirtopia Trail Lodge – so basically affordable country accommodation option for anyone wanting to sleep over while tackling the trails for a weekend then.

Apart from all the Dirtopia operations, there is also Chrisna’s Olives (boutique olive company), the Simonsberg Environmental Education Centre (conservancy), The Vineyard Connection (wine and freight specialist company), Johan Swart Ceramics (ceramics manufacturer), and Polka Dot Party Pants (birthday parties company).

My favourite of the lot though has to be Zebonkey, the cheekily named, family owned micro brewery that produces interesting beers according to the German Reinheitsgebot ( “German Beer Purity Law”) – but always with a twist, like using sea salt water or Buchu smoked wheat!

Anyway, the point is that Delvera is currently super popular with mountain bikers, hikers and trail runners, but if like us you are none of the above, there is still just enough reason to pay a visit – even if it is just to have lunch in Dirtopia Cafe’s wonderfully leafy garden setting while sipping on a Zebonkey craft brew and taking in the stunning Stellenbosch winelands view.

As for the girls, there was only really one thing that they were dead set on tackling during our visit – the pedal carts! (But be warned – there is a LOT of competition to grab hold of one…)

Tip: According to their website, please note that some businesses at Delvera (not any of the Dirtopia ones mind you) are open by prior arrangement only, so it is advisable to call in advance to avoid disappointment.

Related Link: Dirtopia Trail Centre | Zebonkey Brewery | Delvera | Stellenbosch

Driving over the Bain’s Kloof Pass to Wellington (2016-12-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 07 FEB 2017

Chantelle and I enjoyed a weekend away in Tulbagh towards the end of last year. We decided to head home via Wellington for a change, and that led to a decision to tackle the rocky Bain’s Kloof Pass, a road that I literally haven’t been on since I was a teenager!

Created in the 1850s, the Bain’s Kloof Pass was built to connect Wellington to Ceres, and like all the well made mountain passes in South Africa, was designed and built by a Bain – though this time around it was father Andrew Geddes Bain as opposed to his more famous road engineer son, Thomas Bain!

The now tarred mountain pass is a national heritage site, and runs for about 20 km as it moves from the Breede River, across the Limiet mountains and along the Witte river.

Popular with hikers due to its isolation, striking scenery and of course many rock pools (perfect for swimming), the mountain pass sees a fair bit of tourist activity, with the popular bush pub at the start of the pass (on the Wolseley side) doing brisk business, particularly with all the bikers that take on the pass’s many dangerous twists and turns!

It is relatively nerve-wracking/exciting pass to drive, thanks to its narrowness, unforgiving stone barricades, and sharp drop-offs, not to mention the numerous twists and turns that seem intent on making any person sitting in the passenger seat rather… uncomfortable.

Chantelle found the drive harrowing, I loved it, and the views afforded from the summit overlooking Wellington are simply put, spectacular.

Well worth tackling if you are in the area then.

The team behind Mountain Passes South Africa do a fantastic job in detailing the various mountain passes of South Africa, and for Bain’s Kloof Pass they’ve actually filmed a four part series, all of which are well worth the watch if you are interesting in the details and story behind this national heritage site of ours:

Part 1: Orientation and Overview:

Part 2: From Breede River to Tweede Tol:

Part 3: From Tweede Tol to Bain’s Kloof Village

Part 4: From Eerste Tol to Wellington:

Finally, a map in case you want to tackle this hairy pass yourself:

Related Link: Bain’s Kloof Pass | Mountain Passes South Africa