Cape Overberg: Hidden Hiking Trails

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Cape Overberg: Hidden Hiking Trails
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Cape Overberg: Hidden Hiking Trails
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The Cape Overberg region provides multiple peaks to climb, swathes of pristine fynbos, coastal vegetation and ocean views which are bound to uplift the soul of any weary hiker.

Kogelberg Nature Reserve

The Kogelberg Nature Reserve became South Africa’s first biosphere reserve and stretches from the mountains above Kogel Bay, inland of Rooi Els, to Kleinmond and Betty’s Bay. The area is richly biodiverse with over 1,800 species of plants, of which about 150 are endemic. The endangered marsh rose is one example of the many fynbos species found here.

Choose from a number of day hikes, such as the Perdeberg trail and the Three Sisters circular route, or pack a tent and do the overnight trek (permits for all hikes need to be purchased from Cape Nature).

A popular walk is the fairly flat 10-kilometre Palmiet River trail which runs along the banks, tucked between parallel mountain ranges. You’ll make your way through riparian vegetation which includes wild almond and Breede River yellowwood trees and through scattered groves of protea and other fynbos. The route hugs the river for the most part, with pools along the way where you can dip in and cool off before making your way back along the same path.

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📍: Palmiet River 
📸: Elise Kirsten

Harold Porter Botanical Gardens

In addition to the 10 hectare cultivated garden, the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens stretches for almost another 200 hectares, from the top of the Kogelberg mountain range to the ocean. The popular five-kilometre Leopard Kloof Trail takes hikers through indigenous forest, past yellowwood and assegai trees, over three river crossings to the first of three waterfalls. From here a series of ladders take you up and on to the third waterfall, the final destination on this out-and-back route. While you can splash your face to cool off, no swimming is allowed in the pools or within the garden.

There are also two walking trails that wind up through the fynbos-clad southern slopes of Bobbejaanskop and The Plateau. These routes offer striking views over the Atlantic.

Fernkloof Nature Reserve

Although this beautiful reserve is only three kilometres from the centre of Hermanus and not far from the R43, it feels like an oasis of prime Cape hiking territory. The Fernkloof Nature Reserve has 60 kilometres of trails that wind through the Kleinrivier Mountains, many of which offer spectacular views across the ocean.

Hike to Aasvoelkop, which is the highest point in the reserve (at 824 metres above sea level) or make your way up the Adder Ladder to the bench and viewpoint before continuing on to Platberg Peak. If you’re not in the mood for a strenuous uphill slog, consider the 800-metre walk from the visitor centre to the waterfall or follow one of the lower contour paths. The paths are marked and colour coded. Dogs on leashes are allowed on the blue, klipspringer trail and cyclists are welcome on the yellow trail.

The Fernkloof visitors’ centre displays labeled fynbos flower specimens which you can look out for in the reserve. There’s also an indigenous nursery and a small, landscaped garden where you can picnic on the lawns.

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📍: Fernkloof 
📸: Elise Kirsten

Green Mountain Trail, Elgin

This four-day, 60-kilometre slackpacking trail takes hikers into the mountains above Grabouw, Elgin and Bot River in Groenlandberg section of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, where you’ll find pockets of highly endangered renosterveld, which boasts an extraordinary variety of bulbs. Daily distances vary between 11 and 18 kilometres and nights are spent in guest houses that provide scrumptious breakfasts and dinners. On the shorter hiking days, a picnic lunch and wine tasting at Oak Valley, Paul Cluver and Beaumont Wines form part of the experience.

You’ll make your way through forests, across working fruit and wine farms, as well as into the mountains cloaked in endemic fynbos and home to an array of bird- and animal life. Trail guides will teach you about the history and biodiversity as you enjoy the wide open spaces on foot.

Whale Trail, De Hoop Nature Reserve

The Whale Trail is a 55-kilometre multi-day slackpacking trail situated within De Hoop Nature and Marine Reserve, a World Heritage Site. The reserve lies near the southernmost tip of Africa and the bay that runs alongside the land provides shelter for an estimated forty-percent of the world’s Southern Right whale population that come here to breed, between June and November, making this an excellent base for shore-based whale watching.

Hikers will make their way along the coast to five overnight cottages, four of which offer impressive views over the Indian Ocean. Expect to walk through unspoilt fynbos, across soft beach sand, where African oystercatches run tip-toed next to the surf, up cliff tops and past rock pools filled with tiny marine creatures.

The distance varies each day with the longest and possibly most difficult being the first day’s 15-kilometre hike, while the last day is only seven kilometres long.