Photo Caption: #guesswhere this amazing valley is? Tag someone who would like to go hike here with you.
Photo by @jacques_crafford
Situated near the wine region in the southeast of Stellenbosch, the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve covers about 9,800 hectares of mainly mountain fynbos. It boasts more than 1 100 plant species, several of which are endemic. The reserve is also home to the imposing Jonkershoek Mountains and portions of the upper Jonkershoek valley. It incorporates the smaller Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve in its borders. Jonkershoek is known for its rugged terrain, challenging hiking trails and stunning views, making it an ideal hiking destination.
Just 6 kilometers from the center of the reserve is one of the Jonkershoek valley’s classic day trails – the Jonkershoek Panorama Hiking Circuit Trail. It is a circular 17-kilometer route filled with protea-covered slopes, grassy ridges, craggy cliffs, stony inclines, gushing waterfalls, and rocky river paths. The trail can be hiked in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions and takes between 6 – 8 hours to traverse.
Note: Some reports and GPS readings show that the trail is only 14.5 km.
After paying an entry fee at the gate of the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve ( R40 or remember your Wild Card ), you can drive to the trailhead at White Bridge on the hairpin bend of the Circular Drive. You can then start climbing immediately if hiking in a clock-wise direction. The path is a well-maintained singletrack hiking trail. The trail is in great condition in the early stages. Then there is a steep climb to a contour path just below Third Ridge and Banghoek peaks. The path then zigzags steeply up the Bergriviernek which has amazing views of Assegaaiboskloof.
If you start in an anti-clockwise direction you can enjoy a slower start as you walk down the Eerste River valley heading towards Tweede Waterval. The Tweede Waterfal ( Waterfall ) route is an ease hike that can be done on its own. Click here for a pic from the waterfall and to learn more about it.
After the waterfall the path will cross the river heading up towards Guardian Peak and Kurktrekker. The path will get a lot steeper and you will enter a spree section near the top.
If you are looking for the same spot as Chelsea Kauai to replicate her photo of the valley you need to go this way. About halfway up the climb right at the water point there is a path that goes off left through some Proteas and fynbos. Along this route you will find the rock Chelsea is standing on. To continue the route you will need to double back to the water point.
To hike from Guardian Peak to the Bergriviernek follow the windy path along the Dwarsberg Plateau.
To download the full Jonkershoek brochure click here.
As Far As The Eye Can See
Take note that at higher altitudes, the weather conditions in Jonkershoek may be quite different from lower in the valley and can change rapidly. The route then winds across the panoramic views of the Jonkershoek valley as you traverse the edge of the Dwarsberg plateau. The higher you climb, the panoramic views over Jonkershoek Valley get better and better. You can then take a short detour up Guardian Peak, elevated at 1 227 meters. It overlooks the Cape Peninsula, all the way from Table Mountain to Cape Point, Robben Island, False Bay, Cape Hangklip, and the peaks of the Hottentots Holland range.
If you hiked in a clockwise direction, from Kurktrekker, the path descends in a steep, rocky scramble past Tweede and Eerste Waterval, with swimming opportunities. The trail winds along the Eerste River and then back to the starting point.
The Jonkershoek Panorama Trail is moderate to strenuous, suitable only for fit and competent hikers. Wear proper hiking boots or shoes and bring along your full hiking kit, extra layers, swimming clothes, food, and water. This exquisitely diverse and popular trail is rather challenging. But the stunning panoramas, spectacular mountain vistas, magnificent waterfalls, and crystal clear streams make this trail a must-try.
Distance: 17km ( 14.5 on GPS )
Time: 6 – 8 Hours
Parking: At the harpoon bend of the circular driving route right by the white bridge.