05 October 2011

Jonkershoek - Hiking Activity in Magic Surroundings

Jonkershoek - Hiking Activity in Magic Surroundings

Jonkershoek, just 9 km outside of Stellenbosch on the Jonkershoek Road, is a Nature Reserve of immense beauty. It's approx. 14 527 ha in extent and offers beautiful, rugged terrain for photography, hiking, mountain biking or walking.
For those who prefer the comfort of a car, the circular route is approx. 10 km and there are a number of stopping places for you to get out, smell the fynbos, take some photo's or just breathe in the fresh mountain air.

The Jonkershoek mountains have high peaks flowing down to the valley floor and the summer temperatures can soar during the day.

The vegetation of this area is "fynbos" indigenous to South Africa and it's floral kingdom. Proteas and Ericas are plentiful and wonderful when in full bloom. There are also pine plantations and mountain Cypress with many smaller flowers and bushes.

Four rivers have their sources high up in these mountains, which are also part of the Hottentots Holland range. The Eerste, Berg (famous for the Berg River Canoe Marathon), Lourens and Riviersonderend but only the Eerste River flows through the Reserve. The sound of running water is a welcome sound on a really hot day when one is hiking and the feet are needing some respite!

It can get very hot in this valley during summer so be sure to always have water if you intend cycling or hiking. The South-Easter wind can cool the temperature down somewhat when its blowing but this wind is
deadly if a fire breaks out and fans the flames. In the Cape, fire-fighters are used to summer call-outs and they can spend many weary hours, sometimes days, fighting run0away fires. The fynbos does grow again and some plants actually require fires to regenerate. In winter, the worse winds are North-Westerly; however, there are usually more beautiful sunny days than cold and wet ones so hiking in the cooler months is a favourite activity amongst the locals.

There are 5 hiking trails - all of which lead off from the circular drive - chose the distance you prefer as they range from 5.3 km to 18km. The Panorama Trail is 17.1 km with a fairly steep 4km ascent to the Dwarsberg Plateau, whilst offering brilliant views.

The Tweede Waterval route is scenic with the Eerste River in sight for most of the way. Any dangerous parts are always closed to hikers.
The reserve is home to a number of smaller animals but these are seldom seen. Just keep an eye out for snakes on VERY hot days - however, snakes don't like humans very much so they will normally move out of the way when they hear you approaching. You are more likely to spot the bird-life such as sugar birds, sunbirds, and if you are lucky, perhaps a fish eagle near the dam.

Please don't steal the trout!!
After your hike,bike or drive through Jonkershoek you can settle down at the outdoor cafe near the entrance to the reserve for welcome drinks, snacks, lunch or afternoon teas. There are sunny or shady spots depending on your mood and it's a great spot to relax after some strenous activity. 

Jonkershoek is grand no matter what the weather may be on any given day - try this valley in all her moods - you will always come back for more!

© Judelle Drake

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