The outsized impact that the extremely wealthy farmer, mining magnate, politician, and later philanthropist Jan Marais had on the bustling oak lined town of Stellenbosch can never be overstated, but by far my favourite of his endowments has to be the 23 ha nature reserve that lies right inside the town itself – the Jan Marais Nature Reserve.

The free to enter and enjoy nature reserve is essentially split into three major segments, the northern half preserving a sample of Swartland Renosterveld vegetation, and the southern half protecting a swathe of Swarland Alluvium Fynbos vegetation. Finally a large corner of the park is dedicated as a family relaxation space, so think a large lawn, big shady picnic trees, and of course an area for the kids to run around and play in. (Oh and an outdoor gym for those so inclined to sweat rather than relax in a space like this!)

The nature reserve is well tended to, and dirt paths crisscross the entirety of the area, making this space a great option for some compact, quick nature walks, bike pedals, or runabouts, and indeed the, various neatly laid out plant sections are a delight for anyone with the mildest of interests in botany or just pretty flowers in general.

Another great aspect to this little nature reserve is the abundance of public art installations to be found scattered throughout, including a mindful labyrinth and even a prized Dylan Lewis leopard gazing over the land! Tortoises, birdlife, and the occasional little buck add to the mix of things to see, and so yes, this tranquil little green space adds yet another breathe of fresh air to a town that is already has its fill of wide open spaces thanks to the plentitude of surrounding mountain peaks and rolling wine estates.

Well worth a visit and definitely one of my favourite spots for a stroll whenever I find myself wandering about in Stellenbosch.

Related Link: Stellenbosch