Every year they lighten the mood and brighten the province
Tygerberg Nature Reserve
Hiking in the Northern Suburbs
Thousands of years ago this koppie was used by the Khoisan to graze their cattle. Back then the view would have been of open plains stretching out below the hill all the way to Table Mountain, these days the space has been filled with the clutter of urban life, but the view is still pretty spectacular.
On clear days this 309 hectare reserve offers views of the entire Cape Peninsula, which we are lucky enough to experience. Before our walk we stop by the picnic site, which has tables under the shady pine trees, and follow the wheelchair access down to a look-out point. Here we watch jackal buzzards soaring up on thermal currents (our later spotting of striped mice scurrying through the undergrowth explains their strong presence over this reserve).
The nature reserve is one of the largest remaining areas of the critically endangered Swartland Shale Renosterveld; there are 562 floral species to be found in the area. Pay it a visit in the spring and you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of flowers.
Birding and mousing
We are greeted at the Welgemoed entrance by an unusually inquisitive tortoise enjoying the sprinkler on this scorcher of a day. After a quick visit to the Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre: to see the displays (and avoid eye-contact with the taxidermied creatures), we set off up the hill wearing our Hi-Tecs: V-lite Total Terrain Lace – perfect for the gravel paths. Once we had reached the top it was all too clear that this is one of the only places in this area of the Northern Suburbs to get a nature fix. As mentioned before, there’s also a well-maintained wheelchair path to a look-out point as well as a picnic table designed for people in wheelchairs.
What to bring
- A picnic – claim your table under the trees and enjoy a meal in the great outdoors.
- Children – they won’t struggle on the paths and they’ll enjoy spotting the striped mice.
- Binoculars and bird book – this area is a twitcher’s dream, with 137 different species calling it home.
- Hats and sunblock – apart from the trees in the picnic area there isn’t much shade so make sure you are protected from the sun.
- Camera – if you’re into shooting panoramic landscapes or just want a clear shot of Table Mountain across the city then you’ll find plenty of well located viewing spots.
- Don’t bring your dog along, this protected area doesn’t allow them.
- Money – there’s a small conservation fee (see below)
There are about 13kmof trails through the Tygerberg ranging from short (perfect if you’ve got small kids and want to get them used to walking) to longer routes that stretch from one end of the reserve to the other. There are two entrances; Plattekloof and Welgemoed, with the majority of the trails starting at the latter. There is also a wheelchair trail that runs from the picnic area. All the trails are well marked and you can pick up a map at the office when you arrive. The paths all join up and intersect with one another so tailor the walk to your needs or just set off and take whatever path looks the most appealing.
Walk up the tar road from the Welgemoed entrance and keep an eye out for the turn off to the left. This path intersects with the Golden Mole trail.
Follow the sign that turns off to the right of the tar road when you’re walking up from the Welgemoed entrance.
Duiker turns off from the Tortoise trail and circles around the triangular dam visible from the top of the hill. It’s a nice little tangent off from the main reserve.
You can start this walk from either entrance. If you start at Welgemoed the first section is on a tar road that gently climbs up the hill. From here the gravel road winds down and then up onto the lower koppie.
This routeis on the Platteklip side of the reserve. Follow the path from the entrance until it splits and then take the left path, this will circle around and meet up with Watsonia trail to lead through the picnic area and then back to the entrance.
Easy to moderate
Also on the Platteklip side this path turns to the right where Induli goes left. From here it runs along the lower slopes all the way to the Welgemoed side picnic area and then onto the Watsonia route road all the way to the Platteklip picnic area and then back to the entrance.
Easy to moderate
From the Welgemoed entrance follow the tar road until you see the sign leading off to the left. This route then leads down and around the lower slopes before climbing back up through the picnic area and continuing on around the reserve before leading back to the entrance again.
Trivia: there’s an old cannon at the top of the first hill which dates as far back as the 1700s. It’s still fired on certain public holidays and can be fired on special occasions for a fee.
Tygerberg Nature Reserve
Welgemoed gate |Totius Street | Welgemoed | +27 (0)21 913 5695
Directions:Turn into Kommissaris Street from Jip de Jager Drive and follow the brown nature reserve signs.
Summer(October – March):Weekdays: 7:30am – 6pm, Weekends and public holidays: 7:30am – 7pm.
Winter (April – September):Weekdays: 7:30am – 5pm, Weekends and public holidays: 7:30am – 6pm.
Plattekloof gate | Meyboom Avenue | Welgemoed | +27 (0)21 913 5695
Directions: Take Plattekloof Road towards Panorama Hospital, turn into Olienhout and take the third right into Meyboom Avenue. There is parking between Melkhout and Vlamboom Street.
Monday – Friday: 7:30am – 4pm
Adults – R12
Children under 13 – R6
Children under three – free
Pensioners and students – R6
Text by Lindsay Callaghan, photographs by Antonia Heil
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