Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Western Cape
The beautiful Jonkershoek Nature Reserve lies in the Jonkershoek Valley just above Stellenbosch. Surrounded by the magnificent Jonkershoek Mountains, part of the Boland mountain range, this is the place for wonderful hikes within their peaks and never-ending kloofs.
In total, the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is 9 800 hectares of mountain catchment area that provides a rugged terrain for hikers, whilst Assegaaibosch, which is included in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, is more popular with those with a picnic and light stroll in mind, or something slightly less taxing than attempting the peaks of Jonkershoek. The two nature reserves combined provide 10 000 hectares of fynbos, proteas and over 1 100 plant species - this is natural pristine diversity at its best, and a wonderful place to find fynbos endemics.
The Eerste, Berg, Lourens, and Riviersonderend rivers all begin their descent in the Jonkershoek Mountains, and flow from there down through the winelands. There is a huge variety of birdlife that includes the jackal buzzard, ground woodpecker, Cape sugarbird, orange-breasted sunbird, Cape bulbul and protea seedeater.
A visit to the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve provides wonderful opportunities for walking, driving, cycling or hiking and there is a good network of gravel roads along the Eerste River - a great place to spot the southern boubou, fiscal flycatcher, Cape robin-chat and forest canary due to the dense riverine vegetation. There is a dam almost a third of the way up the valley with picnic areas on the banks, and some of the walks that lead up the valley are well worth doing. Look out too for the honey badger, baboon, klipspringer, mongoose and leopard.