• Bitten by the whale watching bug Bitten by the whale watching bug We don’t realise how lucky we are in South Africa, and in particular the Western Cape, to have the mightiest of the marine mammals visit our coastline between every year ...
  • The Whale Trail The Whale Trail The Whale Trail is not a new trail, having been around since about 2002, but it has become extremely popular. It is truly a unique experience, perhaps comparable with ...
  • 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa Combine your trip to South Africa with a relaxing, revitalising visit to a health spa and experience Africa at it's finest. Our favourite 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa are ...
  • Locals share their favourite getaways Locals share their favourite getaways We ask 30 local South Africans to share their favourite holiday destinations and getaways with us. From the more popular destinations like Knysna and the Kruger Park to ...
  • The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip walk shares portions of its hike with the larger Karbonkelberg Traverse, which is roughly seven hours of hard walk from Hout Bay harbour to Llandudno ...
  • 10 Amazing Game Lodges 10 Amazing Game Lodges South Africa is world renowned for her game reserves and wildlife. The lodges which allow us to experience these in luxury are no less awe inspiring. Our favourites are ...
  • 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town As much as your kids will tell you they can’t wait for the school holidays, the words "I’m bored" inevitably cross their lips. Our "101 things to do with kids in Cape Town" will ...
  • "World's most beautiful Cities" "World's most beautiful Cities" Open space makes Cape Town special. Renowned English sea navigator Sir Francis Drake once referred to Cape Town as the fairest cape in the world. The city houses the ...

Find Accommodation in South Africa
Subscribe to our Feed
Posted on: Monday, 15 April 2013
South African Hiking Trails

Hiking Jonkershoek Tweede Waterval – a wonderful easy ramble, perfect for families

Send to Kindle
Which direction will you go?

Which direction will you go?

As we approach the outskirts of Stellenbosch, one of our hiking party reads aloud from a brochure about Jonkershoek Nature Reserve‘s claims to beauty. I scoff, and am heard to mutter that every nature reserve claims ‘beauty’ as their major charm (and most of them are). Cynical me.

I was to eat my words.

Jonkershoek is one of four nature reserves that form part of the greater Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve – a World Heritage Site registered by UNESCO in late 2007. The reserve is gorgeous – ‘beautiful’ is the understatement of the year.

It lies just outside of Stellenbosch, surrounded by the imposing Jonkershoek mountains that in turn form part of the larger Boland mountain range (part of the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve). Jonkershoek also includes the smaller Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve.

What you can infer from my ramblings is that you are in mountainous company. All around you are a series of towering peaks.

In fact, the Tweede Waterval hike heads right up the valley of Guardian Peak, hemmed in on both sides by the soaring crests of mountain fynbos covered mountains – over 1 100 plant species are said to occur in the reserve.

 

Jonkershoek

 

The route is peppered with proteas, various ericas – all in violet and mauve flower at this time of year -, restios, and grasses. The banks of the Eerste River, alongside which we walk for much of the way, are covered in dense riparian vegetation (really important for their value as bank stabilisers and water quality protectors) and in the narrow, moist kloofs are relics of the old forests that grew here – where they have escaped any danger of fire.

Jonkershoek is popular. We arrive at the main entrance to find it teeming with bikers, cars, locals and students. My heart falls – is this a Stellenbosch weekend hangout?

The reserve, though, is fairly big – 11 000 hectares. And the hikes begin around 5 kilometres from the main gate. We head off along the dirt road by car up the valley floor leaving much of the crowd – who hang out around the restaurant at the main gate – behind.

Parking is available along the 10km circular route in designated areas, to allow one to set off on the four major hiking routes in the reserve. Or, as a group of students did, you can walk from the gate and include the 5km dirt road (beautiful views and lots of cyclists) in the Tweede Waterval hike.

 

Jonkershoek

 

Much of the hike is on the flat. If you have really little ones, you will easily make it to the first waterfall and back. Even reaching the waterfall viewing point, inside a little kloof, is easy, and definitely worth the detour. There you can happily swim in pools, although there is not that much ‘bank’ space, and parties tend to cheerfully move on, as others arrive for their share of the water.

I would hazzard a guess that in summer, this walk is extremely popular because of the pools.

The real beauty of the walk begins after the first waterfall, as you head up the valley to the second. The initial part of the walk brings you to yet more river pools at which you can stop and picnic, or swim.

There is more of a steep ascent as you take the final leg, and the wind caught us along this strip. Watch out with little ones, as there are sheer drops as you reach the the foot of the second waterfall, where there is another lovely little cove. It isn’t dangerous if you’re prepared, and for part of it someone has kindly provided a hand rail. The even more sheer uphill to the waterfalll above you, is closed.

We then headed back the same way we had come. If you want to make it a much longer hike, you can continue in a circular way after the second waterfall, which takes you along the Panorama Circuit, a 17 km circular route.

 

Jonkershoek

 

After your hike, book into a hotel in Stellenbosch or be totally indulgent and enjoy a relaxing session at a health resort or spa.

Destination Info:

Wanda Coustas

About 

Wanda Coustas has written in one form or another for 10 years, seven of them as a copyblogger. She has travelled the Western Cape extensively and the rest of the country in protracted road trips that have given her both joy and an ongoing relish for experiencing what she writes about first-hand. She is a trained opera singer, poet, eurythmy dancer, philosopher, and bee whisperer.

You are reading Popular Hiking Trails and Walks in South Africa Series Read more from this series of articles.