Tag Archives: trail running

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… ;)

...

99 Steps and a Forest Walk on Helderberg Farm in Raithby (2017-06-17) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 21 AUG 2018

Raithby is essentially a completely ignored/forgotten small farming community that lies more or less between Somerset West and Stellenbosch. While not a lot of public-facing places call this little piece of the Helderberg home, it is home to The Helderberg Farm, an old farm with a long history – some of the buildings still standing are marked as having been built in 1692!

These days the farm (literally on the secluded outskirts of Somerset West) primarily produces wine grapes, but is also responsible for a number of other small crops, including the ever popular strawberry. The grounds are open to the public, and they have an old, Cape Dutch style tea garden which is great for a cup of coffee and small treat.

Of course, that isn’t really a big enough reason to visit – instead, the Helderberg Farm hosts a number of other activities on its grounds, from mountain bike trails to 4×4 trail riding. There are running trails, hiking routes, picnic and braai facilities, a farmyard with goats, bunnies and geese for the kids, and a sprinkling of play areas for the little ones. For those seeking a bit more action, there is also clay pigeon shooting, paintball games, and gravel karts.

Oh, and strawberry picking during season as well.

The forest area can be hired out as a venue (the wide open spaces means that the Helderberg Farm is perfect for kids’ parties), and also makes for a great walking experience with the little ones (who might not feel comfortable doing one of the full hikes).

Not that you would think that mind you, listening to how my girls complain every time I try and get them to walk with me. Surprisingly enough though, the last visit saw them being game enough to attempt the steep 99 Steps path up the hill with me – and even more surprising is the fact that we all three actually made it to the top.

That said, I suspect that they were just as amazed that I actually got up there myself! :D

[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”55990,55991,55992,55993,55994,55995,55996,55997,55998,55999,56000,56001,56002,56003,56004,56005,56006,56007,56008,56009,56010,56011,56012,56013,56014,56015,56016,56017,56018,56019,56020,56021,56022,56023,56024,56025,56026,56027,56028,56029,56030,56031,56032,56033,56034,56035,56036,56037,56038,56039,56040,56041,56042,56043,56044,56045,56046,56047,56048,56049,56050,56051,56052,56053,56054,56055,56056,56057,56058,56059,56060,56061,56062,56063,56064,56065,56066,56067,56068,56069,56070,56071,56072,56073,56074,56075,56076,56077,56078,56079,56080,56081,56082,56083,56084,56085,56086,56087,56088,56089,56090,56091,56092″]

Side Note: Unfortunately, the biggest problem for the Helderberg Farm is the fact that it feels to be constantly in disrepair, which in turn discourages visitors, which in turn means less money making opportunities for the farm, which then ultimately contributes to the dilapidation that the farm seems to slowly be accruing as the years go by.

It’s a pity really because I love the lush green tranquility of the place, and really want for it to be doing a lot better.

Related Link: Helderberg Farm | Raithby

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.

[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”53290,53291,53292,53293,53294,53295,53296,53297,53298,53299,53300,53301,53302,53303,53304,53305,53306,53307,53308,53309,53310,53311,53312,53313,53314,53315,53316,53317,53318,53319,53320,53321,53322,53323,53324,53325,53326,53327,53328,53329,53330,53331,53332,53333,53334,53335,53336,53337,53338,53339,53340,53341,53342,53343,53344,53345,53346,53347,53348,53349,53350″]

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