© Rudolf P du Toit This is the start of the trail.

Swartboskloof Hiking Trail, Jonkershoek Nature Reserve

Location : Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa
Distance : 18.4km
Duration : 8 hours (1 day)
Difficulty : moderate-strenuous
Present : Deneille Jacobs, Rudolf du Toit, William Sandenbergh, Gareth Harding

After purchasing a permit at the office gate (R20 per person in 2007) and signing in, you either have the option to walk or to drive the gravel road to the parking area where the trail starts. The gravel road follows a circular route for appproximately 10km. We were pressed for time, so we decided to drive the 4km to the parking area by car. The road was in good condition (no 4WD vehicle required).

We started the hike at 09:00. The path was very wet and overgrown after the heavy winter rainfall, with water streams running down the footpath in some areas. On numerous occasions we could not see where we were stepping due to the vegetation. The fynbos was lush and the proteas were exceptionally tall (as you can see in the center image below). The initial 5km is all uphill.

© Rudolf P du Toit Lots of different fynbos species. © Rudolf P du Toit Huge proteas. © Rudolf P du Toit Gareth & William checking the map.

The trail kept us interested. There were some dense areas and many, many streams. Lots of photo opportunities.

© Gareth Harding Some areas are quite dense and overgrown. © Gareth Harding Me taking a photo and William having another look at the map. © Rudolf P du Toit Lots of streams after the winter rain.

Some of the streams were a bit tricky to get across, but nothing serious.

© William Sandenbergh The view back to the start of the trail. © Rudolf P du Toit Some of the streams were a bit tricky to cross. © Rudolf P du Toit Some of the streams were a bit tricky to cross.

Almost at the top we walked past a pretty big waterfall (first photo below). If you look closely, you can see Gareth standing on the left of the waterfall towards the top. It is a good idea to look behind you occasionally and enjoy the view.

© Rudolf P du Toit Lots of waterfalls after the winter rain. © Gareth Harding The view back to the start of the trail. © Rudolf P du Toit The view back to the start of the trail.

It is always nice to see some wildlife when you are out hiking. On this day we saw quite a number of "Klipspringer" (biological name: Oreotragus oreotragus).

© Rudolf P du Toit William, Gareth & Deneille. © Gareth Harding Klipspringer © Rudolf P du Toit The view back to the start of the trail.

We finally reached the top at about 12:40. Interesting vegetation and rock formations on the plateau. With no route markers, we had another look at the map. The map indicated that we had to go East. By chance we decided to go West and had a look over the ridge.

© Rudolf P du Toit At the top, having another look at the map. © Rudolf P du Toit Interesting rock formations.

WHAT A VIEW! There was no indication of this viewpoint on the map, or on the trail! We almost missed it!

© Gareth Harding The view we almost missed.

From here we could see Table Mountain, the whole of False Bay, Somerset West, Strand and Gordon's Bay. We had lunch there and enjoyed the view.

© Rudolf P du Toit Me and Deneille. © Gareth Harding The guys enjoying the view. © William Sandenbergh Me at the view.

After lunch, we started walking East at about 13:30PM. Plant species differed somewhat on the plateau. Tall reeds and many small, colourful flowers.

© Rudolf P du Toit Towards Guardian Peak. © Rudolf P du Toit Overgrown. © Rudolf P du Toit Colourful vegetation.

We walked past a gorge (called Boegoekloof I think). In the photo below on the right you can see how wet the trail was.

© Rudolf P du Toit Impressive gorge. © Gareth Harding Sneaky view towards Gordon's Bay. © William Sandenbergh Interesting hill.

After a nice walk on the plateau, we started the overgrown, steep, rocky descent down Kurktrekker. We reached Kurktrekker at about 15:00.

© Rudolf P du Toit Interesting hill. © William Sandenbergh About to head down Kurktrekker. © Gareth Harding Heading down Kurktrekker.

After about an hour, most of the pounding descent was over when we reached the "second waterfall", as indicated on our map.

© Gareth Harding Another view down Kurktrekker. © Gareth Harding The "Second Waterfall". © Rudolf P du Toit Stream at the "Second Waterfall".

Later we also passed the "first waterfall", but it was not as impressive as the "second waterfall".

© Gareth Harding Looking back towards Kurktrekker.

The trail finished back at the gravel road, but about 2km ahead of where we originally parked. We walked back to the car and completed the circular route. We were back at the Jonkershoek gate by about 17:30. Close call, as the gate closes at 18:00.

In retrospect, it was an enjoyable trail. Pity that the path was as overgrown at the time, but then I guess we would not have seen so many water streams. The descent down Kurtrekker was the least enjoyable. The authorities need to spend some time fixing the steps and clearing the vegetation.