If you visit the beautiful Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, be sure to visit the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. The entry fee is R25 per person and the nature reserve is accessible via bicycle, car or by foot.
If you’re pressed for time, take the 10 km drive. The road (which is considerably bumpy in places but which a normal car can manage if only you drive carefully and slowly over the worst patches) takes you into the reserve (there are signs indicating the access point of the 3 km hike to the waterfall found near the midway point of the drive) before curving back and leading you back out of the main gate. (My only fault with the place was the fact that the gatekeepers were not particularly helpful or polite when I visited the area but perhaps I simply got them at a bad moment after a long – and presumably busy – hot and windy Saturday)
The road is wide enough in most places for two cars to pass by but be aware that you will encounter parked vehicles as you go along. There are a few nice spots to stop and take photographs (two of which being: the gate near the reserve’s dam and on or just past the little bridge above the reserve’s beautiful, crystal clear stony riverbed.)
The reserve is now a World Heritage Site and has many of the Cape’s wonderful flora (including some lovely conifers and the South African national flower’s protea varieties, including the pincushion protea pictured below) and fauna contained within its boundary fences. It’s a truly beautiful place, with stunning views of the surrounding majestic mountains and it is well worth the entry fee one pays.
I would love to return someday to experience it more fully in general, as well as what can only be great hiking trails (just past the riverbed we passed a sign that said something about a 17.1 km hike – now that’s a hardcore hiking distance in my opinion!). Still, even if you cannot or do not wish to hike, you can still have great fun experiencing one of the most beautiful and highly-sought after areas in the Western Cape, Jonkershoek and surrounds.
The reserve itself is maybe 5-6 km outside of the university town of Stellenbosch and there is a great campsite nearby to the nature reserve, which I can safely say from personal experience is amazing too and which comes complete with lovely wooden cabins and excellent, clean enough camping facilities, bathrooms, halls and braai areas.