Silvermine Nature Reserve forms part of the Table Mountain National Park and includes part of the Cape Peninsula mountain range, from Kalk Bay through to Constantiaberg. A good option for younger and older visitors, and those who might not be fit enough or have enough time to undertake a longer hike.
Silvermine takes its name from the Silvermine River, which starts in the reserve and runs to Clovelly. Only 20 minutes drive away from the city centre, the reserve is an important conservation area for indigenous fynbos plants. Apart from walking and hiking, it’s also a popular spot for bird-watching, picnicking, and mountain biking. Silvermine Nature Reserve also has several sandstone cave systems and rock climbing routes to Muizenberg.
Various hiking trails include a popular one which leads to a picturesque view of the landscape stretching from False Bay, all the way around to Cape Point. One of the easier walks circles around a large reservoir. A boardwalk accessible to wheelchairs and prams is in place for much of this walk. There are also several picnic and braai areas in the park, including some along this picturesque trail. The reservoir dates back to 1898 and was built to supply water to the growing city of Cape Town.
Venue: Ou Kaapse Weg, Cape Town
Time: Daily 8am – 7pm
Tel:+27 (0)21 780 9002 (Gate)| +27 (0)21 712 7471 (Office)
Website: Silvermine Nature Reserve
Facebook: Silvermine Nature Reserve
The Cecilia forest trails vary from the easy to the hard. A popular route leads to Cecilia Forest’s waterfall at Cecilia Ravine.
The waterfall is down in the forest area and quite a contrast to the rather dry and hot parts through which you hike to reach it. A stop here is well worth it, the water icy and the coolness of the forest is beautiful.
Cecilia Forest also links with Newlands Forest and Kirstenbosch.
Website: Cecilia Forest
Venue: cnr Hohenhort & Rhodes Dr
Newlands Forest offers numerous trails, some broad and easy, others steep and rocky. Nearly all are shaded and relatively wind-free, and often take in a stream or two.
Popular with runners, dog walkers and families, the forest can appear busy in its lower reaches – particularly on weekend mornings, but numbers soon dissipate and the tranquillity of the forest takes over as you head upwards and outwards from the main parking areas.
The ruins of various homes and washing stations can be visited, now overgrown with moss and lichens. Well worth keeping an eye out for!
A riverine and valley adjoining Table Mountain below Rhodes Drive to the northeast of Constantia Nek. The upper reaches of the Spaanschemat River run through this natural area, and environmental surveys of De Hel show that the site remains in a natural condition.
It is an ideal location to bring family and enjoy a stroll through the park. For the more energetic, the Elephant’s Eye hiking trail is a great option. Mountain biking is popular here too with a varied terrain to ride through challenging riders at different levels.
There is a tea room where guests can sit and relax in this peaceful environment. The visitors centre has more information about adventure guides and activities in the area and an organic market is very popular to visit on Saturdays at the neighbouring Porter Estate.
Venue: Tokai Arboretum, Tokai Road, Tokai, Constantia Valley, Cape Town
Time: 8am – 5pm (winter) | 7am – 6pm (summer)
Tel: 021 712-7471
Website: Tokai Arboretum
The nature reserve consists of seven parts: Rietvlei Wetlands, Milnerton Lagoon, Milnerton Beach, Milnerton Racecourse, Zoarvlei Wetlands, Diep River and the Parklands Fynbos Corridor. This 880-hectare reserve comprises a variety of permanent and seasonal wetlands and is surrounded by Cape Flats dune stranded and Cape Flats sand fynbos vegetation.
The reserve protects 412 plant species, 31 mammals, 196 birds, 33 reptiles, nine amphibians, and 14 fish species. It also supports important but as of yet unlisted insect, invertebrate and planktonic communities. Two species are listed as vulnerable, and 14 are near threatened. The wetland offers a variety of habitats, including a permanent freshwater lake, shallow marshes that flood in winter, reed beds, a river, and an estuarine lagoon with salt marshes that are open to the sea.
A strip of coastal dunes separates the reserve from Table Bay. This is a bird watcher’s paradise, especially in spring and summer, when migrant birds arrive from the northern hemisphere. Some 196 bird species are listed, including pelicans, flamingos, ducks, coots, herons, plovers, weavers and swallows. Two bird hides offer views of the southern water body and the large seasonal pan.
The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) rehabilitation centre is adjacent to the reserve. Many small mammals, reptiles and insects live here, along with several frog species. The lagoon acts as a nursery for several coastal fish, such as harder and mullet which occur alongside freshwater fish. From the coastal dunes, dolphins and whales are visible in season and the Milnerton Aquatic Club promotes water sports at the North vlei.
Venue: Main entrance is at the southern end of Grey Avenue, Table View (Rietvlei Section)
Time: 7.30am – 5.30pm | water sports 10am – 5pm (weekdays) | 9am – 5pm (weekends)
Tel: 021 444 0315 | 021 444 7226
Website: Table Bay Nature Reserve
Facebook: Table Bay Nature Reserve
Proclaimed a local and provincial nature reserve in 2007, the reserve has a spectacular view down fynbos slopes, across the city, to 7 km of rocky, sandy coastline and the ocean. It is one of the few viewpoints in the world from where you can see two World Heritage Sites; Table Mountain and Robben Island. The reserve conserves three threatened vegetation types; Cape Flats dune stranded, Swartland shale renosterveld, and Cape Flats sand fynbos.
This biodiversity embraces a wetland, 624 plant species, 40 mammals, including whales, dolphins and seals, 166 bird species, 30 reptiles and four amphibians. It is the only City nature reserve where you can still find the white-tailed mouse, the ant bear or aardvark and a bird known as Layard’s titbabbler. Evidence of early human occupation has also been found in this area.
The reserve also conserves the site of the 1806 Battle of Blaauwberg, when the British took possession of the Cape from the Dutch for the second time. During World War II several buildings were constructed on Blaauwberg Hill that can still be visited today. These include a radar station, a lookout and a mess room. A new accommodation facility has been built nearby.
Self-catering accommodation: R700 (per unit per night) | R500 off-peak season | R120 additional person. NB Proof is required for all concessions
Tel: 021 444 0454 | 021 444 7317
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Reservations.Blaauwberg@capetown.gov.za
Website: Blaauwberg Nature Reserve
Facebook: Blaauwberg Nature
Lion’s Head peaks at 669 metres above sea level. The peak forms part of a dramatic backdrop to the city of Cape Town and is part of the Table Mountain National Park. Lion’s Head is known for spectacular views over both the city and the Atlantic Seaboard, and the hour-long walk to the top is particularly popular during a full moon. Lion’s Head is covered in fynbos, with unusually rich biodiversity that supports a variety of small animals. Signal Hill or Lion’s Rump, is a landmark flat-topped hill located in Cape Town, next to Lion’s Head and Table Mountain.
Signal Hill is home to the Sheikh Ghaibie Shah Kramat, which is part of the Circle of Kramats. This Circle of Kramats is a shrine to Muslim holy men buried in Cape Town. It is believed that their positions in and around Cape Town fulfil a 250-year-old prophecy foretelling a ‘Circle of Islam’ around the Mother City.
Venue: Lion’s Head, Signal Hill, Cape Town
Facebook: Lion’s Head
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The Cape Point Nature Reserve, located near Africa’s southernmost tip, is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt areas on the planet. The reserve is stunning, with cliffs, unspoiled beaches, and breathtaking views. But more than simply a beautiful location it is also home to a diverse range of species and vegetation. There is a plethora of wildlife in this remarkable place, from the rare Cape mountain zebra and Bontebok to the gorgeous orange-breasted sunbird and pelagic birds that drift in the air currents just off the shores.
Hikers and joggers have plenty of opportunities to explore the reserve’s miles of hiking trails. Cape Point Nature Reserve will not disappoint, whether you are looking for an adventure or simply a place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.
The lighthouse at Cape Point Nature Reserve has been in operation since 1857. The lighthouse is perched on a cliff, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding coastline. Once you reach the reserve’s public area, you can take the funicular tram or walk to the lighthouse.
Venue: Cape Point Nature Reserve, Cape Peninsula, Simon’s Town
False Bay Nature Reserve consists of six parts; Rondevlei, Zeekoevlei, Strandfontein Birding Section, Pelican Park Section, Slangetjiebos Section and Zandwolf Coastal Section.
Concerned bird lovers established Rondevlei as a bird sanctuary in 1952. Today, it is a well-run nature reserve, 290 hectares in extent, with a museum, an auditorium, a network of footpaths, viewing towers, and several bird hides named after well-known birders. There is a permanent wetland with Cape Flats sand fynbos to the north, and seasonal wetlands and Cape Flats dune strandveld in the south.
About 256 species of indigenous plants grow in Rondevlei. Among them, rare and endangered plants are strongly nurtured. These include the Cape Flats cone bush, the Rondevlei spiderhead and the Cape Flats Erica, which is now extinct in the wild. The Cape Flats Erica was discovered in a botanical garden, and has since been replanted in Rondevlei.
In addition, there are 241 bird species such as ducks, herons, ibises, pelicans and weavers. Hippopotamus have been reintroduced, and there are 20 other mammal species, including Cape grysbok, porcupine, Cape dune mole rat, Cape clawless otter and large-spotted genet. 29 types of reptiles and eight frog species have been seen. The only indigenous fish present is the Cape galaxia, while introduced alien fish species include the common carp, banded tilapia, Mozambique tilapia, mosquito fish and sharptooth catfish.
Venue: cnr of Perth Road and Fisherman’s Walk, Grassy Park, Cape Town
Time: 7.30am – 5pm (daily) | 7.30am – 7pm (on weekends from Dec to Feb) | Closed on Christmas Day
Tel: 021 706 2404 | 021 706 2405
Website: False Bay Nature Reserve
Facebook: False Bay Nature Reserve