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