Tag Archives: nature walk

McDonalds at Poinsettia Park in Somerset West (2020-08-22) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 20 FEB 2021

I am not fond of McDonalds fast food to say the least. If we absolutely do have to have fast food then the oily (but tasty) mess that is KFC could probably be classified as my favourite fast food option, but unfortunately for me, both my wife and kids seem to like what comes out of the Golden Arches’ kitchen and thus every now and then I need to indulge them. That said, if the chance arises to not have to eat it in the fast food outlet itself, then I always try to grab that opportunity with both hands. Case in point – why eat in the admittedly nicely airconditioned and spacious McDonalds of Waterstone Village Somerset West when it is by far more pleasant to just drive up the road and munch on your cardboard patty around nearby Poinsettia Park dam instead.

Situated to the side of the very nice, up on a hill suburb of Heldervue, Somerset West, sits Poinsettia Park, a small strip of green wedged in between suburbia and the big R44 that serves to shuttle traffic between the Helderberg and Stellenbosch. Built around a small dam, this space of green is a relatively popular spot for fishing and family picnics, and also features a small loop which makes it great for getting dogs (and little girls) to stretch their legs a little. These days there is also a brightly coloured outdoor gym in case you are eager to show off some sweaty muscles to whomever is willing to take the time to look.

As for the three of us (Chantelle was back home hard at work in the kitchen on this particular day of out and about adventure), we found a bench, munched on our food, watched the birdlife and the fishermen at work, and then grumpily took a short stroll before chasing back to the car because the youngest one decided that the need for a toilet was now about to enforce itself. (Kids always make everything so fun.)

Anyway, with the relatively busy R44 lying right next door, Poinsettia Park isn’t a particularly quiet and tranquil space, but it is rather pretty to look at, and it definitely does beat sitting in a boring McDonalds, that’s for sure!

Hunting for Proteas at the Helderberg Nature Reserve in Somerset West (2019-07-27) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 08 APR 2020

Sometimes it just doesn’t work. I can’t convince, bribe or coerce my wife or either of my girls to head out for a walk with me. Mind you, not that it bothers me in the slightest – it is their loss after all and in any event, it just gives me an even greater opportunity to randomly stop and take a picture or three!

Residents of Somerset West are really fortunate to have a very nice, accessible and well run City of Cape Town managed and operated (with support from the local Friends of Helderberg Nature Reserve NPO) nature reserve right on their doorstep in the form of the Helderberg Nature Reserve.

Situated on the southern slopes of the Helderberg mountains (the peaks of which remain under the protection of Cape Nature), the Helderberg Nature Reserve originally came to be as a wildflower garden (and to protect the water resources in Somerset West) in 1960, following a period of lobbying by the local Rotary Club of Somerset West. Since then the area has 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 tree shaded lawns, popular with families and perfect 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. As you would expect, there are walking and hiking paths scattered around the reserve, catering to nature lovers of all fitness levels (and particularly popular with those who like jogging up mountains for exercise).

Surrounded by all manner protea species and birds galore, there is tranquility, majestic mountain landscapes and a sweeping view over False Bay below – what more could one looking for a break from suburban living possibly still need?

Traipsing about Rooi-Els Nature Reserve (2019-01-19) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 04 APR 2020

At the start of last year I managed the unusual in that on a rare weekend morning without Helderberg Cake Company orders to fulfill, I got Chantelle to agree to come out for a nature walk with me and the girls – my destination of choice being the quiet little settlement of Rooi-Els. Of course getting there means tackling all 77 potentially nausea inducing twists and turns of the extremely scenic Clarence Drive as well, something Chantelle is not overly fond of on the best of days either!

Known for its fishing and diving opportunities, not to mention the fact that it is constantly being bashed by the sea winds and raided by the local Chacma baboon troop, the mostly holiday home littered little settlement of Rooi-Els is pretty quiet, has only a handful of tarred roads, and thus very little in terms of commercial ventures. (Mind you, they do have a popular bikers’ pub and two rather nice restaurants all of a sudden).

One of its claims to fame is that Rooi-Els falls within the vaunted Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, the 100,000 hectare UNESCO designated area whose landscape is home to one of the most complex biodiversity regions on our planet – featuring more than 1,880 different plant species, 77 of which occur nowhere else on earth. This sweeping sea of fynbos and mountains is home to a variety of animal species like leopard, caracal, baboon and antelope, as well a particularly rich selection of bird life.

As a conservancy, there are no fences around Rooi-Els to keep people out or nature in – instead it is the commitment of the local communities, farmers, conservation agencies and local government to protect and nurture the land and its biodiversity.

(For reference, the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, which interestingly enough was South Africa’s first ever registered biosphere reserve, encompasses the entire area from Gordon’s Bay to the Bot River Statuary and inland to Grabouw and the Groenland Mountain.)

As for our little excursion, we found ourselves first picking our way through the fynbos over the small picturesque area marked as the Rooi-Els Nature Reserve, before extending our trip with a drive out to Betty’s Bay in order to take in the devastation of the recent fires that had ripped through the town, devouring anything and everything in its path, after which we turned back and stopped for some coffee and a light lunch at Pringle Bay’s always pleasant Bistro 365 & Simple Coffee eatery.

So a proper mix of an excursion then. The tranquil quiet beauty of nature in the fynbos rich area of Rooi-Els, the sobering reality of the fire risk that comes from living so close to the mountain in Betty’s Bay, and then the mad vibe of people enjoying the weeked at a bustling Pringle Bay town center.

A Stroll through Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch (2019-03-31) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 25 OCT 2019

I’m quite fond of the extremely accessible Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch. Situated within the town itself, the park is compact, has well marked out paths, gives gorgeous distant views of the Stellenbosch mountains, and really is a breath of fresh air and tranquility for any nature lovers out there.

This particular trip to Jan Marais saw me riding solo, with Chantelle busy with cakes/and or relaxing on the couch, and neither of my girls wishing to abandon playing with their friends in order to join me for a healthy walk. Not that this bothered me in the slightest though – the perfect opportunity then to take my time, first stopping to do some plane spotting at the Stellenbosch Flying Club, then tracking down the sports club and Danie ‘Doc’ Craven bronze statue that I remembered from my twenties, before finally setting out to explore the little nature reserve at my own gentle pace.

There is public art to behold, renosterveld fynbos to experience, a kids play area (which for a change I didn’t have to stop at), an outdoor gym for the eager beavers, enough space for both cyclists and walkers to enjoy at the same time, and it always makes for a great photo walk.

Perfect really.

...

Nature Walk around Paardevlei in Somerset West (2019-04-06) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 17 OCT 2019

All the newly developed houses, apartment blocks and office spaces are now quickly springing up all around Paardevlei, but pleasingly the nature walk that takes you around the vlei is still open to the public – and if you know about it, then you have another great stretch your legs kind of place to add to the local list.

Seeing as this particularly shallow vlei relies almost entirely on rain and ground water for its supply, this year’s decently wet winter means that the vlei is again sparkling blue, and is once more brought back to life by the cacophony of bird life that has returned to its wetland charms.

With neither Chantelle nor the girls keen on joining me for a healthy walk on this particular day, I had the excuse to leisurely walk as far as what I wanted (for those who keep track of things like that, it is more or less 3 km of path if you go right around), to go as slow as what I wanted, and to stop and take as many photos as what I wanted.

Which I then did.

I also strolled about the business area a bit, taking in all the beautiful sculpture work on display. As one does in such pretty surroundings of course!

...

The Silverhurst Trail in the Constantia Valley Greenbelt, Cape Town (2018-09-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 14 JUN 2019

The leafy, affluent suburb of Constantia in Cape Town is blessed with incredibly fertile soil and a lot of precipitation, meaning that greenery and natural beauty abound in every single direction. Towards the east is Constantia Valley, home to a wondrous Greenbelt area that features a large number of publicly accessible walking trails, all of which lazily wind between residences and natural features alike.

One of the easier, more accessible walking trails is the Silverhust Trail which starts just off Constantia Main Road and ambles along the Keysers River, past the Silverhurst Estate. It’s not much longer than 2 km in length (return trip), but of course you can easily make your stroll last longer by either hopping onto another trail or switching to some residential streets for a bit.

It’s tranquil, its green and you are alongside a stream, so super popular with dog walkers and lazy weekend strollers alike. (Or a family walking off a big Sunday afternoon lunch like we were on the day!)

...

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!)

...

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… ;)

...

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.

[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”53133,53134,53135,53136,53137,53138,53139,53140,53141,53142,53143,53144,53145,53146,53147,53148,53149,53150,53151,53152,53153,53154,53155,53156,53157,53158,53159,53160,53161,53162,53163,53164,53165,53166″]

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