Nature Walks

  • Cape Town and surrounds
  • West Coast
  • Cederberg
  • Cape Floral Kingdom
  • Fauna

We offer a variety of nature walks and hikes, with an emphasis on exploring the fynbos on foot - not all our walks are strenuous and demanding. We do cater for nature lovers who prefer the shorter options.

Cape Town is the perfect base for day walks and hikes
in the surrounding mountains and nature reserves.

We offer day walks in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, which includes a visit to Cape Point, stunning views over False Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, indigenous plant life, colourful sunbirds, ostriches, baboons and Bontebok (rare buck species endemic to the Western Cape).
There are several routes to choose from - three to four hour walks and longer routes that can be enjoyed as full day hikes.

Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve - please click to enlarge start of one of the walks - please click to enlarge
Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and start of one of the walks

 

Half day walks in the reserve can be combined with a full day sight-seeing tour of the Peninsula, taking in Hout Bay and Chapman’s Peak (when open), and returning via Boulders Beach, Simonstown, now famous for its resident African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) colony.
There are many possibilities…..

penguins - please click to enlarge
penguins

 

We also do walks in Silvermine Nature Reserve, which is approximately half an hour’s drive from the city centre. There are several easily accessible walks through this beautiful, pristine reserve. Fynbos thrives here and the waterfalls and streams are quite spectacular during the winter months. The landscape is dominated by the vivid green of leucadendrons, brilliant pink ericas, proteas and orchids in season.

Silvermine Nature Reserve - please click to enlarge Silvermine Nature Reserve - please click to enlarge
Silvermine Nature Reserve

 

Table Mountain is an all-time favourite with hikers and there are many routes to choose from. There is the popular two-hour hike up Platteklip Gorge, a steep, but manageable path, which runs parallel to the cableway. This can be extended to include an easy walk along the flat top of the mountain to Maclear’s Beacon (highest point at just over 1 000 metres). 
There are several other safe and scenic options, such as Skeleton Gorge, Constantia Nek or Kasteelpoort (from Camps Bay). There is usually the option to ride down on the cableway (weather permitting).
Contact us for info on other routes and options.

Table Mountain - please click to enlarge Orange Kloof - please click to enlarge
Table Mountain and Orange Kloof from Constantia Nek

rock formations - please click to enlarge rock formations - please click to enlarge
Rock formations

Twelve Apostles - please click to enlarge Kasteelpoort walk - please click to enlarge
Twelve Apostles and the Kasteelpoort walk

 

click here for the geology of Table Mountain...click again to close

 

The geology of the Table Mountain National Park is comprised of three major rock groups. The oldest rocks belong to the Malmesbury Group - essentially the shales, which weather to form a reddish clayey soil, seen on the lower slopes of the front table and Signal Hill. These distinctive sedimentary strata are more than 550 million years old. Renosterveld, a vegetation type related to fynbos, is found in patches here, although much has been lost due to frequent fires.

Course grained Cape Granites were formed when molten magma from deep in the earth’s crust cooled and intruded the shales, forming reddish loamy clay soils. These majestic granite boulders can be seen on beaches along the Atlantic coastline and south of Simonstown, False Bay. Deeply weathered, granite derived soils are more nutrient-rich, and support distinctive vegetation.

The Table Mountain Group quartzites or sandstones, which can be more than 550 metres thick, were deposited over the years on top of the shales and granites. The quartzites weather to form white sandy soils that are characteristically poor in nutrients. The rocks contort over time to form the fantastic shapes typical of the fynbos landscape and the myriad plants thrive in this acidic soil.

There are also areas of loose sand, typically dunes, made up of shell-rich calcrete. These are the only soils in the park that are slightly alkaline, being calcium rich and were once mined for lime.

 

 

Lion’s Head is another popular day walk and is not as high or steep as Table Mountain, and there are many other, less strenuous routes leading out of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The gardens are well worth a visit and a charming introduction to the indigenous flora of the area. Birdlife is also prolific in the gardens and can be quite productive in the early mornings.

 

There are also several other day hikes that can be done in areas outside of Cape Town, but within an hour’s drive of the city.
Jonkershoek in Stellenbosch, heart of the wine growing area, is another nature reserve well worth visiting and offers shorter walks and longer, more challenging day hikes.

Jonkershoek - please click to enlarge
Jonkershoek

There is also Helderberg Nature Reserve in Somerset West
as well as nature trails in the Hermanus area.
Hiking on the Garden Route can also be arranged.

Please contact us for more information on hiking in these areas.

top

 

home about me nature walks birding whales kgalagadi kruger contact us

Day walks can also be arranged as part of a visit to the West Coast National Park, another fascinating area to visit, perhaps best during the spring months.
The indigenous vegetation here is known as Strandveld, a vegetation type adapted to the drier climate of this area.

Bat-eared Foxes - please click to enlarge
Bat-eared Foxes in the flowers

 

Please contact us for more information on walks and hikes.

Remember that we cater for all levels of fitness and our aim is to enjoy and experience the richness and diversity of the landscape.

 

home about me nature walks birding whales kgalagadi kruger contact us

Overnight hikes can be arranged on request.
The Cederberg Conservancy, so named for the now rare Clanwilliam cedar (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis) that used to be numerous in the area, is famous for its rock formations and clear night skies.

please click to enlarge rock formations - please click to enlarge

 

Well known hikes in the area include the Maltese Cross, the Wolfberg Arch
and the Wolfberg Cracks.

Maltese Cross - please click to enlarge
Maltese Cross

Wolfberg Arch - please click to enlarge view from Wolfberg Arch - please click to enlarge
Wolfberg Arch and view from the arch

 

The climate here is extreme, with very cold winter nights and high temperatures during the summer months.
Cooling off in one of the large rock pools is a luxury after a day spent exploring the area.

refreshing rock pools - please click to enlarge

 

Plant life is diverse and many species are endemic to the region.

Snow Protea - please click to enlarge
Snow Protea (Protea cryophila) endemic to Cederberg

 

Please contact us for more information on walks and hikes.

Remember that we cater for all levels of fitness and our aim is to enjoy and experience the richness and diversity of the landscape.

top

 

home about me nature walks birding whales kgalagadi kruger contact us

Fauna of the region is adapted to survival in a sometimes hostile environment. Larger herbivores do not occur here and most of the smaller animals, like large-spotted genet (Genetta tigrina), small grey mongoose (Herpestes pulverulenta) and porcupine (Hystrix africae-australis) are nocturnal and seldom seen.

Steenbok (Raphicerus campestris) and Cape Grysbok (Raphicerus melanotis) thrive on a diet of fynbos plants, and are able to ingest the leaves, many of which contain tannins and chemicals unpalatable to larger species.

Leopards (Panthera pardus) do not occur on the Cape Peninsula itself, but these shy and confiding predators are found in fynbos habitats to the east and north of the region. Caracal (Caracal caracal) and Cape Fox (Vulpes chama) are found here, the former being more common, but are seldom seen due to their nocturnal habits.

Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus), part of a genetically isolated population found on the peninsula, are adapted to a diet of fynbos and occasional shellfish. There are some 350 individuals, living in isolated troops around the peninsula. They are constantly under threat from increasing urbanization and habitat loss.

Chacma baboons - please click to enlarge

Chacma baboons - please click to enlarge Chacma baboon - please click to enlarge

 

Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis), also known as dassies, are sometimes seen sunning themselves on rocks in the region, but numbers have declined in recent years.

dassie - please click to enlarge dassie - please click to enlarge

Striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) are common in fynbos and many species are responsible for the pollination of fynbos plants.

Striped mouse Southern Rock Agama
Striped mouse and Southern Rock Agama

Reptiles abound in the Table Mountain National Park, and lizards are often seen basking on sandstone rocks in the sun on a warm day. Cape Girdled Lizard (Cordylus cordylus) is common on the mountain, and Southern Rock Agama (Agama atra) can be seen doing “push-ups” or proudly displaying its bright blue head. The larger Cape Crag Lizard (Pseudocordylus microlepidotus) rests motionless as it waits in ambush for unsuspecting insect prey.

Snakes are common in the park, but are not frequently encountered.
Puff Adders (Bitis arietans) are seldom seen on Table Mountain, but are commonly found in the south during the summer months. The Cape Cobra (Naja nivea) is a highly venomous snake but is shy and generally avoids contact. The Rinkhals (Hemachatus haemachatus) is now rare in the region. Boomslang (Dispholidus typus), a tree-dwelling species, is seldom encountered in fynbos. Many smaller non-venomous snakes also occur.

 

Tortoises are at home in the fynbos environment. The Angulate Tortoise (Chersina angulata) is common, but many are lost due to frequent fires. Tortoises are highly active and often encountered during the summer months. The endangered Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus) is confined to renosterveld in the Western Cape coastal area.

 

An impressive number of frog species are found in fynbos, many of these endemic to the region and found nowhere else. This is due to the wide range of climate conditions and habitats in the region. There are 8 forest frog species endemic to the small pockets of Afromontane Forest, including the Table Mountain Ghost Frog (Heleophryne rosei). There are 16 fynbos endemics and these include the threatened Western Leopard Toad (Bufo pantherinus), Cape Platanna (Xenopus gilli) and Arum Lily Reed Frog (Hyperolius horstocki).

   Arum Lily Reed Frog - please click to enlarge
Arum Lily Reed Frog

 

Birdlife in the Cape Floral Kingdom is not as diverse as in other parts of the country, but those species that do occur are uniquely adapted to the habitat.
There are six species endemic to fynbos, two of which, the Cape Sugarbird (Promerops cafer) and the Orange-breasted Sunbird (Anthobaphes violacea) are relatively common. Cape Siskin (Pseudochloroptila totta) and the elusive Victorin’s Warbler (Bradypterus victorini) are also endemic. The Protea Seed-eater (Serinus leucopterus) and Cape Rock-jumper (Chaetops frenatus) are not found on the peninsula, but habitat specific areas nearby.

More than 950 bird species have been identified in Southern Africa. Some 144 species are endemic to the region.

 

For more information on birding with Genet Nature & Birding Tours,
please go to our Birding section

top

 

home about me nature walks birding whales kgalagadi kru