Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs offer both locals and tourists plenty of green oases to enjoy. There’s the Tygerberg Nature Reserve, Majik Forest, Durbanville Rose Garden, Sonstraal Dam and Durbanville Nature Reserve to name but a few of the glorious, protected and vibrant pockets of greenery found here.
And ever since moving to this side of the Mother City, I have loved exploring these tranquil spots. They are great for taking in the natural wild- and bird life, admiring the indigenous Cape flora – and of course, getting one’s dose of fresh air, peacefulness and healthy exercise!
I have been blessed to experience all but two of the above to date. While, each brings their own set of joys and beauty, Tygerberg Nature Reserve remains a firm favourite… Here’s why:
Hiking Trails: Everything from Wild Olive to the Golden Mole
In the time that I resided in Welgemoed, I had several occasions to hike in and around this nature reserve.
To date, I have hiked all but one of the several Tygerberg Nature Reserve trails. Although, I must point out, they make for easy nature jogs and scenic strolls too!
Tygerberg’s routes include the following options: Caracal (800 metres), Duiker (1 600 metres), Golden Mole (3 600 metres), Grey Rhebok (1 360 metres), Honey Badger (450 metres), Induli (990 metres), Peregrine (610 metres), Striped Weasels (720 metres), Tortoise (1 280 metres), Ukhetshe (3 160 metres), Watsonia (2 660 metres), Wheelchair (480 metres) and finally, Wild Olive (210 metres). (To check out the hiking trails or download a map, click here.)
Each offers its own individual scenery and beauty, but one thing is true across the board: the views and natural flora are stunning throughout, so prepare to be wowed!
Outdoorsy fun for everyone (but the pooches)
Not only does this reserve offer a vast expanse of enclosed wilderness around the famed Tygerberg Hills, with glorious views stretching out across the Northern Suburbs and of Table Mountain, standing proud and majestic in the distance…
But it also runs underneath the main roads and around between the housing areas in this pretty, green Cape Town suburb, making for a unique experience.
The reserve proper is child-friendly (though, as a protected reserve, is sadly not suitable for dogs) and wheel-chair-friendly. These are both wonderful benefits, as it means everyone gets to enjoy the natural beauty and soak up the sights, smells and scenes.
What’s more, the reserve offers some excellent, dedicated picnic tables nestled under the pine trees and neat, well paved paths and trails surrounding the picnic spots. These for excellent for easy, accessible walking or hiking, as desired.
In particular, the designated wheel-chair-friendly areas and photo-worthy lookout spots are most impressive – as are the views of Table Mountain and surrounds! 🙂
Springtime for the flower win!
I have visited the reserve in spring, summer and early winter and it is beautiful and interesting no matter what time of year you visit – but in early spring, when the flowers are out in pops of colour and abundance, it is a truly magical experience – and in all truth, a photographer’s dream!
In addition to the blooms, noble trees and interesting fynbos shrubs, visitors can stumble upon a good assortment of small, local wildlife – like mice, chameleons, guinea fowl, adorable tortoises, birds (including my favourite Bokmakerie) and lizards.
On our most recent visit to the reserve, we even saw a snake (yikes!). So in good weather, especially during spring or summer, just be mindful of these slithering serpents – and be careful to scan the ground when you walk.
Easy hikes, no matter your fitness levels
Although the Tygerberg Nature Reserve offers some uphill walks (including a relatively steep section, especially if you take the Striped Weasel route), it’s generally fairly easy going. So whether you want to walk, run or hike, you and your friends and family will be able to easily enjoy all or one of the above.
Keep an eye out for the cannon at the top of the hill. It has a unique Cape history and dates back to the 1700s.
Also, if it’s open (it was under renovation the last time we visited) and you have the time, check out the Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre too. (Note: Avoid staying inside for too long if real-life stuffed animals freak you out…) It offers its own fascinating little rockery and nature garden, which is insightful, cheerful and homely.
Fun facts about Tygerberg Nature Reserve
For fun, I’ve included a few nature and historical facts about this beautifully preserved and protected Western Cape reserve:
- Tygerberg Nature Reserve covers some 388 hectares and boasts 562 different plant species. Of these, 23 are threatened, eight are endemic to the Mother City and three are endemic to Tygerberg itself.
- Inside, there are 24 different mammal species, 137 different bird species, 22 different reptiles, seven types of frogs and numerous gorgeous butterflies.
- The highest hill offers incredible panoramic, 360-degree views of the city below; so don’t leave your camera at home!
- For cannon firing enquiries and nature talks, you can contact the Friends of Tygerberg Hills.
- Activities in the reserve include: hiking, walking, picnicking, educational programmes, birdwatching and more.
So whether you’re looking for a great place to enjoy a weekend picnic, scenic post-work walks or jogs – or simply somewhere to savour a fun, easy hiking experience in Cape Town (without encountering hordes of crowds and Instagram groupies), Tygerberg Nature Reserve is the place to go.
Opening times: 07:30 am – 18:00 pm, Monday to Friday; 07:30 am – 19:00 pm, weekends and public holidays. Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday. (Note: Times may vary during winter and summer.)
Entry fees vary – but it’s less than R40 for two adults, while learners and senior citizens enjoy lower prices and kids under 3 may enter for free.
Note: As of 1 November 2018, the Plattekloof Gate will be permanently closed.
For additional information on the Tygerberg Nature Reserve, please contact them directly on: +27 (021) 444 8971 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit the City of Cape Town website.
Or find them at: Tygerberg Nature Reserve, Totius Street, Welgemoed, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.
Author: Tamlyn Ryan
Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.
Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.