30 April 2010

Helderberg Nature Reserve: Black Route

Date: 25 April 2010

Location: Helderberg Nature Reserve

Walkers: Aafke, Leighan, Dorothy & Helen

*** Route plotted here ***

The Helderberg Nature Reserve starts at the edge of the town of Somerset West and extends up the slopes of the Helderberg Mountains. We arrived mid-morning and spent a few moments at the map at the start of the walking trails choosing our route.

We decided to head up on the 'yellow route' path and then follow the 'black route' that loops across the hillside. This looked like about two hours walk at our usual relaxed pace. The first section was along a path in the forest. Before long we joined the jeep track. Now out in the open, we got fabulous views of the surrounding ring of mountains.

There was a fire here a year or so back, and the fynbos is still recovering.

Further up the hill we passed through a gate. We walked left and up along the track, following the wooden route markers.

This pretty flower was growing on the wayside, a Chironia perhaps?

There was also a lot of Oxalis growing in the shady spots, in white and every shade of pink and soft purple. Such delicate little flowers.

The fynbos was varied and vigorous.

And the views were lovely! To our right we could see across to farmland with Sir Lowry's Pass in the distance. Behind us we could see down to Strand, Gordon's Bay and the ocean.

A route marker showed us that we needed to turn off the main track and follow a narrow path to the right - the 'black route'.

This path was on the contour and wound through gorgeous vegetation.

My favourite section was a patch of Brunia noduliflora.

These fluffy white pompoms are irresistible!

At one point we got a chance to look down on the part of the reserve we'd walked through: we could see the small dam near the entrance and the jeep track snaking up the hillside.

The 'black route' contour ended on another jeep track where we took a short breather to admire the view, before heading back down the hill.

A Cape Sugarbird was whistling happily in a nearby bush.

We noticed a lot of pink on the way down... pink erica, orangey-pink new growth on the protea plants and pink proteas in bud and in flower.

We joined a wooden board-walk for a way, then followed paths to the dam, a most restful spot. Slowly we meandered back down to where we'd started.

Here we inspected the flowering specimens and read the noticeboard - info about the reserve and the various activities that take place there. One can also read about events in the reserve on their website's calender. Lastly we took a table at the restaurant for a cup of tea and a bite to eat. Great day!

(Photos by Helen)

21 April 2010

YUM! Beef Biltong

(Photo by Helen)

Biltong - South African delicacy - is a dried meat snack. I'm partial to the beef variety, sliced into delicious chewy morsels. My brother and I shared a pack while perched on rocks beside the Table Mountain contour path.

20 April 2010

Table Mountain Circuit

Date: 18 April 2010

Location: Table Mountain

Walkers: Helen and Ian

*** Route plotted here ***

I was all set to take my brother up Oppelskop, but our plans were scuppered when we found Tafelberg Road closed for the day.

When I found out he hadn't ever walked up Kloof Corner or along the contour path on the face of Table Mountain that was our obvious alternative route. So we parked our car on the Kloof Corner bend and up the steps we went!

As we climbed higher we stopped a few times to admire the wonderful views of Lions Head, Camps Bay and the city below.

Growing on the side of the path we saw a few little autumn-flowering pypies, Gladiolus manticola. So delicate and pretty!

Also spotted on the slope: pink Erepsia anceps, and blue Roella ciliata.

Restios too!

The last section is a stepped path straight up to the rock face. Plod, plod.

It was here on the steps we saw a grasshopper perfectly camouflaged for its brown-grey surroundings. When he hopped... bright red wings!

At the top we passed a blue Salvia africana-caerulea, and a large shrub with cream flowers which I can't identify. It has fleshy leaves, so some sort of succulent perhaps?

After water and a little snack we set off along the contour.

I noticed how dry it was... not a waterfall in sight! Ian checked out the rocky caves along the way.

My brother is a keen walker and was really enjoying being on the mountain!

As we got further along we got a good view down to the marquee of the Table of Peace & Unity charity event. This was the reason Tafelberg Road was closed for the day.

Close to Platteklip Gorge we passed several proteas beside the path.

Such lovely soft grey leaves!

We walked round into Platteklip and picnicked beside the stream.

Then we back-tracked a little and took the path down on the west side of Platteklip Gorge. It was a pleasant zig-zag down a stepped path.

A few flowers spotted on the way down: Oxalis (possibly Oxalis polyphylla... there so many pink varieties and they all look the same!), Lobelia (no idea which variety... there are so many and they all look the same!!!) and Erica abietina (phew, an easy one ;-)).

It wasn't long til we reached Tafelberg Road.

We returned to the start via the road, having a peek at the Table of Peace and Unity tents as we passed by.

(Photos by Helen)