A few days before we left Cape Town for the city which we’ll call home for the next 12 months, we joined our friends for a leisurely hike in The Tygerberg Nature Reserve (it’s in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town and about 24km from the city centre).
Though there were a bit of low mist hanging over the mountains and suburbs when we started our walk, we still had a lovely sunny day and could enjoy the spectacular views.
Tygerberg Nature Reserve:
It was proclaimed as a Nature Reserve back in 1973 and supports one of the last remnants of the critically endangered Swartland Shale Renosterveld vegetation type.
The Tygerberg Nature Reserve covers 380ha and boasts over 560 plant species, of which 23 are red data, 8 are endemic to Cape Town and 3 are endemic to Tygerberg itself.
The Eastern slope of this reserve consists of ploughed fields that are in the process of being restored, while the Western slope is close to pristine Swartland Shale Renosterveld.
The Dutch call-up gun signal system:
Once you’re at the highest point, a cannon awaits the hiker. This 12 pounder Dutch gun, cast in 1723 at Finspang (Sweden), is the original cannon which was placed on the Tygerberg hill by the Dutch authorities of the time.
This cannon (and about 50 more guns) were spaced approximately 25km apart and were fired consecutively as a signal to call the burghers to arms to defend the settlement at the Cape.
This system was only used four times for military purposes since 1734: Twice in 1781 when an English fleet entered Saldanha Bay on the West Coast, once in June 1795 before the Cape was temporarily taken by England and a last time in January 1806 before the Battle of Blaauwberg. Thereafter the system was not used again. It is however, still fired on occasion for special events.
There are a wide variety of easy to moderate hiking trails. In total there are about 13km of trails through the Tygerberg, ranging from short (perfect for families with small children) to longer routes that stretch from one end of the reserve to the other.
Even when you’re down in the valley of Tygerberg Hill, the views are pretty. We could still admire the ocean and other hills from below.
Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre:
We ended our hike after about 2 hours and quickly grabbed the opportunity to have a look at the Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre. This was unfortunately closed (probably because it was a Sunday), but we could still walk through the front garden.
Professor Kristo Pienaar, a dynamic character, was a well-known (and brilliant) South African botanist and author of many books on the subject. He brought South African plants to life, not just to his many students but also to those where he lived. He died in 1996, but his legacy will live on forever.
Since we are now at the end of a long and hot summer, the garden is not as colourful (and green) that it normally is. But we noticed quite a few of the plants that we saw on our earlier hike.
Info on Tygerberg Nature Reserve:
- Monday – Friday (07:30 – 18:00)
- Weekends and public holidays (07:30 – 19:00)
- Closed on Christmas Day and Good Friday
*Times may vary between summer and winter
- Adults: R20 per person
- Children, students & senior citizens: R10 per person
- Children under 3: Free
The Tygerberg Nature Reserve offers plenty of activities … whether you want to take a leisurely walk, a hike with a work-out, jog or enjoy a picnic (there are dedicated picnic tables nestled under the big pine trees). And all of this is possible while having views of Table Mountain and its lovely surroundings!