Tygerberg Nature Reserve – Hiking Trails
Tygerberg Nature Reserve – Hiking Trails
Blog Post Updated on 21 July 2018
If you had to ask most Capetonians about a nature reserve on the top of Tygerberg hills, I can guarantee you that you will probably get a blank stare in return. And then when you explain where it is located, the response will usually be something along the lines of “There’s a nature reserve up there?” Perhaps the best place to hide something so large is in plain sight. On top of a hill!
This is another one of those hikes that I had heard so much about, but for many reasons was never able to do. There are quite a few websites with plenty of information about the nature reserve. There are 13 hiking trails on the reserve, which includes a wheel chair friendly trail.
- Caracal (800 m)
- Duiker (1 600 m)
- Golden Mole (3 600 m )
- Grey Rhebok (1 360 m)
- Honey Badger (450 m)
- Induli (990 m)
- Peregrine (610 m)
- Striped Weasel (720 m)
- Tortoise (1 280 m)
- Ukhetshe (3 160 m)
- Watsonia (2 660 m)
- Wheel Chair (480 m)
- Wild Olive (210 m
How to get there
There are road signs indicating the way to the reserve. Here are some directions to the entrance gate of the nature reserve.
Take the M16 Jip De Jager turnoff from the N1 highway and travel in the direction of Durbanville. Turn left into Kommissaris Street and then left into Rheede, followed by a right into Van De Graaf and a right into Plettenberg Road. Then turn left into Trichardt and left into Batavia Street followed by a right into Totius Road which leads you to the parking lot and entrance of the Tygerberg Nature Reserve.
Opening Times and contact information
The opening times of the Tygerberg Nature Reserve are:
Monday to Friday 07:30 – 18:00
Saturdays & Sundays 07:30 – 19:00
The entrance fee (June 2017) for a adult is R15 and for children is R8. Kids under the age of 3 are not charged an entrance fee.
The office number is (021) 444 8971
Emergency / After Hours number (021) 957 4700
The Speedy Review
The Tygerberg Nature Reserve offers a safe space for families to enjoy a wide variety of easy to moderate hiking trails. It is centrally located for those living in the northern suburbs of Cape Town and it is ideal if you want to enjoy a 2 hour break from the office. All of the trails are child friendly and can be joined together to create a longer hiking experience in the reserve. There is an abundance of bird life, but windy days seem to chase the birds into hiding. A warm and wind free day will guarantee you lots of bird sightings. This is truly a special place in Cape Town and we are convinced it is not being utilised to its full potential by residents and visitors alike. Do yourself a favour and check it out.
Nina rated this trail 0/5 paw prints, because there are no dogs allowed in the Tygerberg Nature Reserve and she felt quite left out.
The Nitty Gritty
On Saturday 24 June 2017, I finally got the chance to visit the Tygerberg Nature Reserve with my hiking shoes on. I was joined by a work colleague who later joined the SAPSTAP Hiking Club. Subsequent to writing this blog, we have visited this reserve on a number of occasions and each time we manage to see something we have never seen before.
We started off at 07h52, just the two of us. My wife, Belinda, was at work.
A few of the trails start right at the Ranger’s building located at the Totius Road gate. The GPS coordinates are as follows:
S 33⁰ 52.665′ E 018⁰ 35.984′
Elevation: 318 m
We started off on a tar road that headed up the hill. A lot of the trails seem to start off from the tar road itself. Our timing was spot on because as we headed up the hill the sun was rising behind us. At the top of the tar road there was a sign board that indicated the various trails and the picnic area to the right.
We turned right here and then immediately on our left there was a picnic area with a viewing site. The view here of Cape Town and Table Mountain is unique. Although I am very impressed with my new camera, it simply could not do the view justice. I took a photo, but I have not included it here. There are better photos taken later on in the hike that I did include in this post.
What I was able to capture was one of a group of birds relaxing in a bush just off the tar road. They all seemed totally unfazed by the human presence in the reserve.
After spending some time at the viewing site, we headed back to the tar road and retraced our steps to the signpost and headed off in the direction of the Golden Mole trail. We walked past the wheel chair trail and turned right on to the Ukhetshe hiking trail.
At 08h10, we started on the Ukhetshe trail which descended quite quickly. The trail zigzagged its way down to a contour path below. The path itself was quite wide and consisted of loose stones which can easily lead to a fall.
One thing that I did realise that was different from say a hike on Table Mountain was that you were still very much aware of the fact that you were hiking in the middle of a built up area. There was quite a bit of road noise that you could hear while you walk which was not surprising due to the close proximity to the N1 highway.
The contour path was relatively flat, but there were a few short steep climbs that we needed to negotiate. There were large moss tracts on the path itself that were very slippery. It’s probably a good idea to walk on the gravel sections of the path that are moss free to avoid any chance of slipping and falling.
At about 08h30, the contour path headed up a steep incline [1.98 km]. After another a few minutes, we had covered a distance of 2.09 km with a moving time of 30 minutes. At about 08h45, we reached the signpost for the Induli trail [2.66 km] with a moving time of 38 minutes. The elevation at that point was 213 m. We continued on straight and the trail immediately went down hill again.
At about 08h50, we reached the bottom of the hill and turned right and followed the signpost for the Ukhetshe trail. The trail then headed up a steep uphill [2.91 km]. Elevation of 194 m. At about 08h55, we crossed a small wooden bridge [3.01 km]. The going on the other side of the bridge was quite slippery with lots of moss patches on the trail.
At about 09h20, we reached the cement jeep track. The signpost advertised that we were joining the Honey Badger trail. The cement jeep track morphs later into a gravel jeep track.
We kept to the right as there were a few trails and paths leading off to the left. There I managed to get a half decent photo of the city and Table mountain in the distance.
At about 09h35, the gravel jeep track turned to the right and the Grey Rhebok hiking trail headed off to the left.
We kept right and remained on the jeep track headed up Tygerberg hill. On our right hand side, we passed quite a large picnic area where members of a local Church congregation were having a service. There was a well known city inhabitant sitting in a tree looking on and waiting for an opportunity to contribute to the hymns portion of the service. We walked passed the picnic site and reached another cross road at 09h40 indicating that we were now on the Watsonia trail. The distance covered to that point was 5.08 km with an elevation of 323 m.
The trail at that point had been altered and veered off to the left of the original trail, due to some sort of trail maintenance. That was where we came across a lone bontebok, lying down in the brush. A little bit of patience and a slow approach to the animal paid off with some magnificent photos.
We were a little unsure about whether this was a bontebok or a blesbok. A quick Google search later revealed a book on antelope species of the area. The Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa written by Chris & Tilde Stuart has the following comparison table.
|Body colour||Rich, dark brown with purple gloss, particularly rams, darker on sides and upper limbs||Reddish-brown, no gloss|
|Face||White blaze usually unbroken but narrows between the eyes||White blaze usually broken by brown band between eyes|
|Buttocks||Always white||Usually pale but rarely white|
|Limbs||Lower part usually white||Rarely as white as in Bontebok|
|Horns||Usually black on upper ringed surface||Usually straw-coloured on upper ringed surface|
You can find out more information about this book here.
Not too far from the bontebok, we came across a pair of rock kestrels sitting on an overhead line. They are the most common of the small falcons found in Southern Africa. It is also called the South African kestrel.
We continued up the hill and arrived at the top of the hill at the Sentech tower at about 10h10 [6.07 km]. The moving time was about 01h30m and the elevation there was 404 m.
Also located on the top of the hill was a single cannon. According to the information board this cannon was part of a network of cannons used by the Dutch as a signalling system.
The info board says the following:
“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. It was one of a chain of cannons stretching from the north as far as Citrusdal all the way to the east as far as Swellendam. The cannons were spaced approximately 25 kilometers apart and were fired consecutively as a signal to call the burghers to arms to defend the settlement at the Cape. The system was introduced in 1734 with about 20 guns. As the colony spread north- and westwards, the system was tested and increased to more than 50 guns in 1758/9. The system was only used four times for military purposes. Twice in 1781 when an English fleet entered Saldahna Bay; 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.”
At 10h15, we walked down the other side of the hill on a tar road and not too far down the hill, turned left on to the Tortoise trail.
This trail winds down gently in a zig zag pattern to the entrance gate. The path itself was quite slippery so mind your step there. This section of the trail was not well signposted. Keep left when coming down on this path. This part of the trail seemed to boast the most bird life with little swarms of birds flying around in constant motion. You have to be ready with the camera if want to get a good photo.
There were also birds of a different feather flying over head and lining up with a runway at Cape Town International airport.
We reached the entrance gate again at 10h45. The path ended at the trail signpost.
Trail & Distance Markings
There were no trail markings on this hike, but the various trails are signposted. There were no distance markers on any of these trails.
The route we walked had a total walking distance of 7.25 km. This consisted of a combination of different hiking trails. We walked a circular type route.
The hiking stats for this hiking route were:
|Trip Odometer||7.25 km|
|Moving Average||4.0 km/h|
|Overall Average||2.5 km/h|
|Max Speed||12.7 km/h|
|Elevation||194 m – 404 m|
I have attached a GPS trip log for the hike, including a side elevation profile.
This was a relatively easy and enjoyable hike. Just remember that if you are going to walk this hike in the winter months, you will need to dress warmly as most of this trail is in shadow and freezing cold. Also keep in mind that if it has rained recently the trail gets very slippery. It is slippery without being wet too. It is unfortunate, but because it is a nature reserve no dogs are allowed. I know that Nina would have had so much fun hiking with us on this route.
There are however rather more steep sections of the reserve, like for example the Striped Weasel Trail that can be used for hill training purposes. Go and explore the reserve and you can come up with your own unique route that can help you to prepare for any tough multi day hike, including the Amatola!