Today I had the enormous pleasure of hiking to the Elephants Eye cave, which is found within the beautiful, richly vegetated and, in places, lush Silvermine Nature Reserve.
The hike took about an hour there and back and if you wear sensible shoes, lather on enough sunscreen (something I didn’t completely do) and pick a day with decent weather (I imagine it can get pretty freezing up there on certain days because it is, after all, a mountain reserve), you are in for a royal treat.
There is an entry fee of about 45 rand for adults – that is, if you wish to drive up and park your car. There are other ways to hike up into the reserve from surrounding areas and trails.
The sights are most stunning and in certain areas, especially at the look-out point (there’s a cute stone structure nearby), are quite perfect 360 degree views. They are, simply put, truly breathtaking.
The paths are fairly easy to hike up, although caution is advised in the more steep, wet or rocky areas (some of the boulders are very smooth and therefore slippery to climb over/step on) and you really don’t have to be super fit to tackle this most rewarding hiking trail.
The cave itself is very cool and moist in places and, aside from the amazing views it affords its visitors, there are interesting and sometimes brightly coloured ferns growing from the ‘roof’ of the cave.
We didn’t see any fauna apart from birds, black or blue-headed lizards – of which there are many – (as well as a fair amount of bumble bees and a dung-beetle ‘couple’), but there are many types of wonderful flora to see, including: wild geraniums, proteas, pines and fir trees – to list but a few.
The trail has checkpoint markers and the man-made roads and footpaths are quite well-made.
Aside from the Elephants Cave trail, there’s a Constaniaberg route and down near the parking lot, you can find the reservoir or, as it is more fondly referred to nowadays, the Silvermine Dam.
This has nice braai facilities in rocky areas with picnic spots, bridges and nice wooden walkways to navigate about on.
Below are some photos of the reserve:
(Presumably young) Protea flowers found within the reserve.
Fir forest on the way to the cave.
Winding road in the opposite direction to the Elephants Eye cave.
The Elephants Eye cave taken from a slight distance.
The ‘look-out cabin’.
Views from Silvermine Reserve.
Approaching the ‘eye’ of the cave.
Views from just below the cave’s mouth.
Silvermine Dam or reservoir.