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Walking through fynbos

The people of Cape Town often come to the Silvermine nature reserve to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the ocean views. This peaceful oasis is located just south of the busy city in a wide area between Table Mountain, Noordhoek and Sun Valley. The landscape in Silvermine is mainly covered by fynbos. This unique vegetation, typical for the Cape region, has a rich endemic flora including rooibos, aloe and gladioli. In fact, the King Protea, South Africa’s national flower, only grows here in the wild.

Because the plants, shrubs and flowers of the fynbos have different flowering times, the Silvermine nature reserve is a great place to go hiking at any time of year. The routes lead you through stunning mountain and coastal landscapes where you’ll see amazing fauna, including sunbirds attracted by the sweet nectar of the gladioli. You can choose from various hiking trails in several lengths and difficulty levels. Make sure to bring plenty of provisions for a picnic or a typical South African braai (BBQ).

Fynbos in Silvermine
Fynbos in Silvermine

Cape Town

The Silvermine reservoir

Along the water

From the Ou Kaapseweg, follow the Silvermine River to the reservoir on the Silvermine River Walk. It takes approximately an hour and leads you past sugarcane fields, natural pools and swamps. On the way, look out for the indigenous virgilia tree with its pretty pink flowers. The trail ends at the Silvermine reservoir, which was created to provide a drinking water supply in the 19th century. Currently the lake is home to a flock of Egyptian geese and various types of fish, and it’s a great place to swim or enjoy a picnic under the pines.

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What’s in a name

The name of the nature reserve probably derives from the 17th century, when Dutch colonists were convinced they would find silver in the region. But alas, after many expeditions, silver was never found. The good news is that the lack of mining means the fynbos and surroundings can be admired in all their glory.

Refreshing shower

It’s quite a climb but if you take the chance to hike to the Silvermine waterfall you’ll be rewarded with stunning views over the valley. This hike is especially recommended in winter, when the waterfalls are at their most spectacular. Do expect a refreshing shower when you get too close! The waterfall is usually dry in summer but the trip is still worth your while for the fascinating ruins you’ll encounter along the trail.

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The waterfall in winter

See location on map

Silvermine waterfall

Panoramic ocean view

Elephant’s eye

Another gorgeous walk leads to Noordhoek Peak. Despite the winding path, the 6-kilometre trail is an easy path and along the way you’ll look out over the Cape Peninsula and the ocean. Hikers can also take a small detour towards Elephant’s Eye Cave. This amazing cave looks like an elephant’s eye from the east, and is partly covered in bright-green ferns. If you’re hungry after the hike, this is a nice location for a so-called skottelbraai or wok barbecue.

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See location on map

Elephant’s Eye

Photo credits

  • The Silvermine reservoir: mallix, Flickr
  • The waterfall in winter: James Cridland, Flickr
  • Panoramic ocean view: Chris Preen, Flickr