No-one too "JONK" or old for Jonkershoek and other charming nooks! | iinfo TZANEEN

Stellenbosch — when you hear the name of this town, nestled in a hollow, jealously guarded by mountains and with the Eerste (First) River meanderingly chortling through the town, your first thoughts, inevitably, are: university, students, surrounding winelands. All these things are true and there.
 
On a visit to Stellenbosch you wouldn’t know which attractive, dreamily situated wine farm you should visit. There is fortunately only one Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, which offers several delightful hiking, mountain biking and 4x4 trails. It is beautiful all over and most of the hikes are for people who are not necessarily top-fit.
 
So, peruse the following description of the possible hikes you can do.
 
*  Swartboskloof to Sosyskloof is a 5,3km easy going walk through sections of relic forest and past a waterfall (in winter – which is the Cape Province’s rainy season). Walking leisurely, it should take you only two hours. Another route of 6,9km will take about an hour more.
 
*  The 17km Panorama Trail in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is graded moderate to strenuous but those who have sweated it out, say the effort is worthwhile for the views alone. Stunning panoramas over the entire Jonkershoek valley and rich mountain fynbos make this trail very popular. The descent to Kurktrekker is particularly spectacular. Start out early as the predicted hiking time is eight hours – a full day.
 
*  The Tweede Waterval (Second Waterfall) Trail is an easy out-and-back walk showing off fantastic vistas. The 6.5 km trail leads through sections of longstanding forest near the Eerste River and into a ravine. There is an even shorter 5.3 km option which makes a lengthy, lazy picnic possible. For the walk, cater for 2-3 hours and plan the picnic!
 
Near Jonkershoek, you find Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve where you can choose one of three options (or walk all three, on different days!) It boasts a wide variety of fynbos species. The reserve was once a wildflower garden no longer cultivated, making it possible for anyone and everyone who so wishes, to enjoy its beauty.
 
*  Route A starts at the picnic site and meanders to the wild flower garden and back. Assegaaibosch conservation station has a freshwater aquarium and information display. Visitors can fish for rainbow trout with the best results during the winter months when rivers, waterfalls and other bodies of water are filled to the brim if the rain season is generous. The easy 2,9km walk is easy and will only take about 40 minutes.
 
*  Route B starts at the picnic site by way of the junction signs before returning to the start. The easy 5,1km walk is estimated to take 1,5 hours. On return the freshwater aquarium at the Assegaaibosch conservation station can be visited.
 
*  Route C in the Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve is a circular trail to a beautiful wildflower garden that showcases a wide variety of fynbos species. This 5,5km route is estimated at 1,5 to two hours allowing enough time to admire and absorb.
 
*  There are some lovely picnic spots on the banks of the dam. No need to book: first come, first served! The capacity is however, limited to 60 people per day. The reserve is open from 7:30 to 14:00.
 
Another toughie!
 
The striking Simonsberg Mountain offers a worthwhile challenge for serious hikers. Starting at Thelema on the top of Helshoogte Pass, hikers amble up a jeep track past vineyards. At the large dam, the footpath is marked by a cairn leading up to Simonsberg through the fynbos.
 
The trail takes hikers through wonderful kloofs to some breath-taking waterfalls. From the summit, the hiker is rewarded with splendid views of Pniel, the vineyards, distant Cape Point, Table Mountain, Franschhoek Mountain and the Hottentots Holland Mountain range.
 
The next eagerly anticipated reward, is the cherry on top! Tested and tried hikers end an inspiring, yet tough day in the mountains at Thelema Estate: one of the highest and coolest wine estates in the Franschhoek and Stellenbosch area. Sipping one of their award-winning wines, hikers reminisce about what their eyes had been privileged to behold, no doubt decide that it was very good and plan which hike to do next.

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