Jonkershoek. My friends often smile with a trace of nostalgic pleasure when they hear the name. The reason for this is simple: This special valley on the doorstep of Stellenbosch is like a second home to those who love adventure, beautiful landscapes and fresh mountain air. In the last five years, Jonkershoek has found its own special place inside my heart.
This nature reserve boasts some glorious mountain peaks, like Pieke, Katedraal and Haelkop. If you like a good hiking trail, do yourself a favour and head into these mountains for a treat. View chasers will be rewarded with vistas fit for kings. Here are some of my absolute favourite views in Jonkershoek:
Top of Swartboskloof: Hiking up the Swartboskloof route will have you following a path that cris-crosses thorugh delicate fynbos and boulder-strewn slopes. Once at the top, you might need to head off the path slightly to find your reward: a complete (and completely awe-inspiring) panoramic view of False Bay! You can see all the way to Cape Point on a clear day, and be mesmerised by the glittering ocean down below.
Panorama Route: This route is an all-time favourite, and a must if you happen to find yourself in Jonkershoek! The 17km circle takes a fair amount of time if you want to appreciate all the splendour, so start early so that you can find a good spot and take in the view on your lunch break! The route lives up to its name with gorgeous views wherever you look. I like walking halfway across Dwarsberg and stopping for a bite to eat as the Jonkershoek valley lies below you, and you can see all the way to Stellenbosch.
Bergriviernek to Rifberg: This one is for the more experienced hikers out there. These mountains make you feel small! Start by hiking up the Panorama route. Once you reach Bergriviernek, turn towards your left, rather than following the Panorama route to the right. The trail pretty much stops here, but cairns help to guide you towards Rifberg. I can honestly say that there is not one step of the way where I was not impressed by my surrounds. I had to pause and take in the grandeur of those jagged peaks and the steep slopes that plunge toward the slim valleys below.
Go grab a backpack and your hiking shoes. Get your camera and a few friends. Fill up your hydration pack and lace up those running shoes. Whether you’re a trail runner or just in the mood for a good old hike – make sure you chase down some of these incredible views and vistas. Then you too will smile with pleasure and think of the beauty that we all love when we hear that name: Jonkershoek.