Jonkershoek Nature Reserve

Sprawling mountains and lush fynbos dominate the landscape in this reserve.

This nature reserve is home to the majestic Jonkershoek Mountains and parts of the Jonkershoek valley. The reserve, which includes the smaller Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve, lies near the town of Stellenbosch in the south-western Cape. Visitors may choose to explore one or both reserves, as they are in easy reach of each other. The reserves are about 9km from Stellenbosch, on the Jonkershoek valley road.

The rugged Jonkershoek Mountains, which form part of the Boland Mountains, are ideal for hiking enthusiasts. The Eerste, Berg, Lourens and Riviersonderend rivers all start high in these mountains, although only the Eerste River actually flows through the Jonkershoek valley. The area is also rich in animal and plant life, with over 1 100 plant species and a variety of small mammals, birds and reptiles. Hikers should be on the lookout for berg adders, puff adders, boomslang and Cape cobras.

The reserve is about 9 800 hectares, while Assegaaibosch is about 204 hectares. The smaller reserve is home to the historical Assegaaibosch farmstead, a national monument built in 1792, while both reserves are World Heritage Sites.

Jonkershoek is hot in summer, and cold and wet in winter. Visitors in the colder months may even see snow dusting the higher mountain peaks. Hikers should note that weather conditions can change rapidly.

To find out more, download the Jonkershoek Map & Brochure.

How to get there

From Cape Town: Take the N2 highway out of Cape Town towards Stellenbosch. Take exit 33 for Baden Powell Drive towards the R310/Stellenbosch/Macassar. Turn right onto Polkadraai Road/R310 and follow the road. It becomes Adam Tas Street. Turn right onto Langstraat-Suid Road and continue onto Helshoogte Road. Turn right onto Simonsberg Road and at the roundabout take the first exit onto Martinson Road. Continue onto Jonkershoek Road and follow the signs until your reach the reserve entrance.

GPS: 33 57 48.70 S  18 55 31.98 E

Office hours: 07:30–16:00

Office number: +27 (0)21 866 1560
Emergency Number: +27 (0)82 467 0405
Accommodation and permit bookings Tel: +27 (0)21 483 0190

Activities

  • Walking and Hiking

    Various short walks are available on the reserve. Alternatively,the reserve offers four, more challenging, hikes ranging between 5.3km and 18km.

    Swartboskloof to Sosyskloof

    Trail distance:5.3km or 6.9km if taking longer route to lookout point
    Estimated time: 2–2.5 hours

    This easy, scenic trail ascends the western slopes of Swartboskloof for about 2km, passing through a patch of beautiful indigenous forest. Hikers follow a contour to Sosyskloof, before winding back to the start of the route. Please note the path is slippery when wet.

    Swartboskloof Trail

    Trail distance:18km
    Estimated time: 6 hours

    This trail ascends the steep Swartboskloof, going higher than 900m in altitude over the first 4.5km. Your efforts will be rewarded by breathtaking panoramic views. The route is fairly level after that, as it takes you to the top of Kurktrekkernek. From there, hikers descend 2.5km to a beautiful waterfall. Bring a swimming costume with you.

    Panorama Circuit

    Trail distance:17km
    Estimated time: 6 hours

    This scenic trail has a steep climb to a contour path just below the Banhoek peaks. This path leads to Bergriviernek, which has amazing views of Assegaaiboskloof. Bring a swimming costume with you.

    The route winds across the picturesque Dwarsberg plateau, with streams surrounded by disas, to Kurktrekkernek. From here, you can take a short detour to the summit of Guardian Peak (1 227m), which has stunning panoramic views of the Cape Peninsula, from Table Mountain to Cape Point, Robben Island, False Bay, Cape Hangklip, and the peaks of the Hottentots Holland range. From Kurktrekker, the path descends past Tweede and Eerste Waterval, back to the starting point. Please note the path is slippery when wet.

    Tweede Waterval

    Trail distance:6.4km
    Estimated time: 2 hours

    This is an easy ramble along the Eerste River, past Eerste Waterval, followed by a steep climb along a gorge to the foot of Tweede Waterval. The dangerous ascent to this waterfall is closed. Please note the path is slippery when wet. Bring a swimming costume with you.

  • Swimming

    With four rivers finding their source in the Jonkershoek Mountains, there are many rock pools and waterfalls to discover as you explore the reserve’s trails.

  • Mountain biking

    There are challenging routes over mountainous terrain, with spectacular scenery, on the adjoining Department of Forestry facility. Please note that there is an extra cost involved for mountain biking at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, as this section of the land is owned and managed by the Department of Forestry.

Location

Conservation

Jonkershoek Nature Reserve Conservation

Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is a valuable conservation area. It provides water to Stellenbosch and the surrounding areas, is mainly covered in mountain fynbos, and has rare/endemic plant and animal species.

Although oak trees are not indigenous, they have not been removed from the area as they have historical value. The valley has large pine plantations on property neighbouring the nature reserve. CapeNature has a programme in place to control the growth of hakea and other invasive alien plants that threaten the area’s precious fynbos.

Jonkershoek has a variety of wildlife, including leopard, honey badger, baboon, klipspringer and mongoose, but these mammals are generally shy and seldom seen. The reserve is also home to kingfishers, black eagles, fish eagles, spotted eagle owls, sugarbirds, orange-breasted sunbirds and protea seed-eaters. On warm days you’ll see rock agama lizards basking in the sun. 

Filming

Jonkershoek Nature Reserve Filming

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

  •  10 km circular gravel road to the valley
  • Assegaaibosch River
  • Picnic Area

12 Reviews

Postcard Cafe at Starke Conde Wines - Bread and Bubbles, Aug 28, 2014 - Jonkershoek Nature Reserve

[…] you are in the valley, why not do one of the short waterfall hikes in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve or rent a bike from Ride In Cafe and go […]

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Stellenbosch Fresh Goods Market - Spatula Magazine, May 22, 2014 - Jonkershoek Nature Reserve

[…] If you’re a fan of artisan producers and specialty foods of the kind found at the Biscuit Mill, then you will love this market. It also has the added advantage of being much quieter so you can spend time chatting to the lovely people responsible for the vast array of fine food on offer. The focus is squarely on the produce and all the goods on sale are the result of the passion and hard work of the purveyors themselves. You will find enthusiasm by the bucketful as you make your way around the various stalls, selling all manner of gourmet goodies, including organic freshly-squeezed juices, handmade naturally-brewed beers, free range and additive-free meat and sausages, lovingly made French tarts, sweet Dutch stroopwafels, authentic Middle Eastern delicacies, homestyle lemonade and foraged wild mushrooms. Add NewWhy not visit this Saturday for a leisurely breakfast? If you’re feeling energetic, you could also reward yourself with a visit after a moutain bike trail at Jonkershoek. […]

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Reserves nearby

Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve

A historical gem in the Jonkershoek valley

Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve

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

Limietberg Nature Reserve

A family-friendly camping spot tucked away in the Du Toitskloof Mountains
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