Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve

An adventure-lover’s playground in the heart of a World Heritage Site

12 June 2017: Please note that Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve has been closed until further notice due to adverse weather conditions, damage to tracks and accommodation infrastructure.

This nature reserve lies in the majestic Hottentots Holland Mountains, about 90km south-east of Cape Town. The 70 000-hectare reserve stretches from Elgin in the south to beyond Villiersdorp in the north, and from the Stellenbosch Mountains in the west, eastwards to the Groenland Mountains, and is a World Heritage Site.

The rocky mountains, bright wildflowers and still natural pools make the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve perfect for challenging hikes, pulse-racing kloofing and the new Cape Canopy Tour zipline adventure.

Click here to make a booking with Cape Canopy Tour.Book
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The reserve’s mountainous terrain ranges between altitudes of 500m and 1 590m. Summers are generally hot and dry, while winters are cold with annual rainfall as high as 3 300mm on the Dwarsberg plateau. Weather conditions in the mountains can be unpredictable and dangerous.

The entrance to the reserve is at Nuweberg, high in Viljoen’s Pass between Grabouw and Villiersdorp. About 7 000 hectares of private and state property around the reserve is co-managed by the Theewaterskloof Conservancy, which includes CapeNature and various landowners.

To find out more, download the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve brochure and map.

How to get there

Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve is about an hour’s drive from Cape Town. Take the N2 over Sir Lowry’s Pass, turn left on the R321, go through Grabouw and on towards Villiersdorp. Up in Viljoen’s Pass, watch out for Nuweberg and the reserve entrance signposted on your left.

GPS: 34 4 26.64 S 19 3 42.41 E

Office hours: 07:30–16:00

Tel: +27 (0)28 841 4301/02
Emergency tel: +27 (0)82 413 5258
Accommodation and permit bookings Tel: +27 (0)21 483 0190

Accommodation

Self-catering

  • Hottentots Holland Huts

    Overnight huts are available at Landroskop and Boesmanskloof. Each hut sleeps 30 people. The huts have four rooms that may be booked separately. Bunk beds, mattresses, wood and water are provided.

    Electricity: No
    Bedding: No
    Fireplace: Wood is supplied

Activities

  • Cape Canopy Tour

    Situated in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, CapeNature has partnered with Cape Canopy Tour to take you  into a previously inaccessible and pristine part of  this amazing World Heritage Site. Only one hour from Cape Town, we offer a fully guided adventure activity for nature enthusiasts of ages 5 to 75!

    Current tour departure times are on the hour from 8am to 2pm, and each tour lasts approximately 4 hours.

    WHAT TO EXPECT

    After a safety briefing and kitting up at the reception, guests will be transported by 4×4 high into the mountain range: this is where the fun begins!

    Two professional guides will accompany each small group, ensuring strict safety standards all the while providing an enlightening and educational experience, providing interesting facts about the nature and geology of this interesting area.

    Slide along steel cables from platform to platform, taking you past waterfalls and through valleys, enjoying all that mother nature has to offer. With 13 platforms and slides up to 320m long, both nature and adventure enthusiasts will be sure to come back for more!

    After a short walk back to the vehicle, we transport you back down to enjoy a light meal together.

     

    WHAT TO BRING

    • Please be sure to bring warm clothes — weather in the Cape can be unpredictable, especially up in the mountains
    • Comfortable shoes to walk in
    • Rain gear will be provided in wet weather

    Cost: R695 per person per Canopy Tour. R40 discount (R655 total) for Wild Card holders

    For more information, and to book, head to the Cape Canopy Tours website.

    Click here to make a booking with Cape Canopy Tour.Book
    now
  • Swimming

    Visitors will discover a number of clear natural pools hidden in the mountain. They offer a refreshing respite from the searing heat during summer months, although the daring may plunge into the pools in winter too!

  • Mountain biking

    The reserve’s mountain bike trail is 22km, winding up to Groenlandberg. The Groenland trail offers stunning panoramic views of the sea, nearby farms and even Hermanus on a clear day. It’s a moderate out-and-back route that allows bikers to enjoy the reserve’s wealth of fynbos.

  • Kloofing

    Please note that these kloofing routes are closed from 1 May until 31 October every year. This closure is strictly enforced, and bookings will only be taken for the period 1 November to 30 April the next year. 

    Kloofing is an adrenaline-pumping way to explore the Hottentots Holland and its clear mountain pools. Suicide Gorge is a popular route, involving a combination of hiking, leaping off cliffs into deep pools and swimming through mountain streams. Kloofing is not for the faint-hearted. This is best done with an experienced kloofer who has done the route before.

    Suicide Gorge Kloofing Trail

    Trail distance: 17km
    Estimated time: 8 hours

    This kloofing route is not for the faint-hearted! More of a swim than a hike, Suicide Gorge takes you through spectacular canyon scenery and beautiful waterfalls. The highest jump is a pulse-racing 14m. Certain daring leaps down waterfalls cannot be avoided, so make sure you are not afraid of heights and are willing to swim in cold water. Remember, once you’re in, the only way to get out of this section of the Riviersonderend Mountains is through some gravity-defying jumps and scrambles. Hikers should be fit, experienced and in good health. Light footwear is advisable, as well as a wetsuit. Use a waterproof bag. The route can be dangerous in extreme weather conditions.

    When kloofing at Suicide Gorge, hikers must be accompanied by someone who has previous experience of the trail. The name and contact details of your guide must be provided when making your booking.

    Please note: This route is only open from 1 November to 30 April.

    Riviersonderend Kloofing Trail

    Trail distance: 15km
    Estimated time: 8.5 hours

    This route is a better option for nervous beginners wanting to avoid Suicide Gorge. It lies lower down the same river as Suicide Gorge, but you can avoid most of the jumps or do them from a low spot. The highest jump on this circular route is 7m. Kloofers should be reasonably fit, willing to swim in cold water and not afraid of heights. Light footwear is advisable, as well as a wetsuit. Use a waterproof bag. The route can be dangerous in extreme weather conditions.

    Please note: This route is only open from 1 November to 30 April.

    *Please note that the Suicide Gorge and Riviersonderend Route kloofing trails may be closed at any time at the discretion of the reserve staff, in the event of inclement weather or any other unsafe conditions.

  • Hiking and Walking

    Enjoy the stunning scenery and variety of fynbos as you wind your way across the undulating Hottentots Holland Mountains. Birders should be on the lookout for the 110 species in the area.

    Hiking trails

    Hikes range from day excursions to overnight experiences on the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve.

    Huts

    Overnight huts are available at Landroskop and Boesmanskloof. Each hut sleeps 30 people in four rooms that can be booked separately. Bunk beds, mattresses and water are supplied. Wood is available to purchase at the entrance gate to the nature reserve

    Help us protect nature

    No pets/no firearms/ no picking of flowers or collection of seeds/ fires only in designated areas.

    Permits

    Permits may be purchased for R40 per adult and R20 per child at the reserve office or through CapeNature Central Reservations.

    Trail preparation

    • Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat.
    • Do not hike alone.
    • Carry enough food and water with you.
    • Make sure you know what the weather conditions are before you depart.
    • Take a warm jacket/raincoat in winter.
    • Make sure you have a relevant map of the area.
    • Take a field medical kit with you for emergencies.
    • Obey all signage.
    • Stay in a group and on the trails.

    Palmiet Trail

    Trail distance: 6km
    Estimated time: 2 hours

    This easy, circular route is perfect for families. Please note that hikers will not be allowed to start hiking this route later than 2pm, in order to ensure that they are back safely before night fall.

    Multi-day hiking

    The Boland Hiking Trail passes through the reserve. You can choose your route, covering one, two or three days. Hikers should be fit, experienced and well-equipped for extreme weather.

    Boland Hiking Trail

    Trail distances:

    Nuweberg to Landdroskop Hut (Sphinx Route): 12km, 3-4 hours (moderate). Please note that hikers will not be allowed to start hiking this route later than 1pm, in order to ensure that they are finished safely before night fall.
    Nuweberg to Boesmanskloof Hut (Orchard route): 14km, 4-5 hours (moderate). Please note that hikers will not be allowed to start hiking this route later than 12:00 noon, in order to ensure that they are finished safely before night fall.
    Nuweberg to Boesmanskloof Hut (Pofaddernek and Noordekloof; longer route): 17.2km, 7 hours (strenuous) – THIS ROUTE IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
    Boesmanskloof to Landdroskop Hut via Pofaddernek and Noordekloof: 17.6km, 7 hours (moderate) – THIS ROUTE IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

    The Boland Hiking Trail winds through the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. The trail has two overnight sites, one with two huts and another with one hut. Hikers can choose various routes, varying between one and three days. Ensure that your route choice starts and ends at the Nuweberg offices. Hikers should be fit, experienced and well-equipped for extreme weather. The route may close temporarily in extreme weather conditions. Please note that fires and braais are allowed only in demarcated sites.

Location

Conservation

Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve Conservation

The reserve conserves the area’s mountain fynbos. About 1 300 species occur here, including several rare and endemic plants.
The Hottentots Holland is also home to grey rhebok, klipspringer, duiker and grysbok. Leopards live in the mountains, but they are a rare sight. About 110 bird species are found on the reserve, including several raptors.
The reserve is also historically significant. Jan Joubert’s Gat Bridge, which forms part of the Franschhoek Pass, was one of the first bridges built in South Africa. The ox-wagon spore and cannons in the Gantouws Pass above Sir Lowry’s Pass are also national monuments.

Filming

Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve Filming

There are various filming options in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, including:

  • Theewaterskloof Dam
  • R45 – Franschoek Pass
  • Hansekop Road
  • Mont Rochelle (private reserve)
  • Nuweberg Dam

4 Reviews

Travel bucket list: zip-lining a gorge |, Jun 12, 2017 - Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve

[…] that these adventures often take me well out of my comfort zones, like this zip-lining trip through Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve […]

Reply

A New Adrenaline Adventure | Diane's tidbits, Mar 20, 2015 - Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve

[…] the longest is 320m long) and one suspension bridge, all tucked away in a picturesque corner of the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. The entire course takes about 4 hours to complete and ends off with a light lunch at the Sunbird […]

Reply

Suicide Gorge | Cape Hike, Sep 19, 2014 - Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve

[…] Website: www.capenature.co.za/reserves/hottentots-holland-nature-reserve/ […]

Reply

Tri Active – The Great Networking Trek | Vukamoya, Aug 29, 2014 - Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve

[…] is a fun way to see the world and the next chance I get I am definitely going ziplining through the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, in the Elgin […]

Reply

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