• Irene Schoonwinkel

Reconnecting with friends and nature in the Silvermine Nature Reserve, South Africa


Having recently moved to the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town (South Africa), my partner and I decided to get better acquainted with our new environment by organising a hike near our home in Wynberg.


Keeping Covid regulations and safety precautions in mind, we invited a small group of friends to enjoy a walk to Noordhoek Peak in the Silvermine Nature Reserve.



Where is the Silvermine Nature Reserve Located?


The Silvermine Nature Reserve forms part of the Table Mountain National Park and covers the section of the Cape Peninsula mountain range from the Kalk Bay mountains through to Constantiaberg.


Straddling the mountain, the park starts from the winding Ou Kaapse Weg (mountain pass) on the Tokai, Constantia and Westlake side of the mountain, stretching over the peak of the mountain, from where it flows into Noordhoek, Sun Valley and Fishhoek - overlooking the ocean.


It is a protected conservation area for the indigenous fynbos vegetation and is located 27,2km from Cape Town city centre if you take the M3 highway.



Hiking Trails at the Silvermine Nature Reserve


There are a few hiking trails in the Nature Reserve which you can either access through Gate 1 or Gate 2.


People come to the reserve to hike (often in groups), run or ride their mountain bikes for exercise and even for morning walks with their dogs.


*Just make sure to check which routes are dog and mountain bike friendly as some areas might have restrictions.


Around the Silvermine Dam, there is even a picnic area. Families and friends gather around the dam and some even take a dip in the cold refreshing water.


Silvermine Dam



The picnic/braai (BBQ) area


For more information regarding the Silvermine Nature Reserve please visit the following sites:


Cape Town Magazine:

https://www.capetownmagazine.com/silvermine


SA - Venues:

https://www.sa-venues.com/game-reserves/silvermine.php


South Africa National Parks Website:

https://www.sanparks.org/parks/table_mountain/tourism/attractions.php#silvermine



Noordhoek Peak Circuit


As the Nature Reserve’s gates open at 8 am, we met up around 9 am and paid our entrance fee of R35 ZAR (£1.80/$2.50).


You can park your car at the entrance gate and walk to the starting point of the Noordhoek Circuit. However, since there is a parking area closer to the Silvermine Dam (the circuit’s starting point) - we decided to drive a few kilometres into the reserve and park our cars closer.


We started our journey on the track below the dam wall to get to the gravel road.


The hiking path is broad enough for four people to walk beside each other. While walking you will get a view of Fishhoek in the distance.


Fishhoek in the distance


Don’t get too distracted by the view though, as mountain bikers tend to come down the path pretty fast! For safety, keep to the left side of the road - making it easier for them to pass on your right.


The hiking trail gradually continues upwards until you find a narrower gravel road that takes you past the lookout of Noordhoek Valley.


Here we took a small water and snack break - soaking up the warm winter sun and just enjoying the different angled view of this small coastal town, Noordhoek.


Noordhoek Lookout


Gathering our strength - just kidding - we continued on the circuit trail to reach the halfway mark of Noordhoek Peak. Considered to be the highest point on the mountain.


We climbed around 305 m, not noticing it since the climb wasn’t steep. However, even though it wasn’t steep - our unfit lockdown bodies and lungs did complain and an emergency pitstop was declared vital!


Taking a break


After walking 4km, we reached Noordhoek Peak! Marvelling at the breathtaking view of Hout Bay, Chapman’s Peak Drive and the Sentinel, we unpacked our lunch and enjoyed the glory and simplicity of nature around us.


Eating lunch at Noordhoek Peak



Hout Bay and Devil’s Peak


It was so rewarding and peaceful watching the ocean outstretched like a dark blue, smooth piece of fabric with little white paintbrush strokes on the edges.


I’ve been to Hout Bay, drove Chapman’s Peak Drive to Noordhoek, but never in my life could I fully understand how the ocean framed the coastal border until that day.


The remaining 4km of the circuit route was easier to finish since we were descending this time. Having baked in the sun on Noordhoek Peak, I had to put on my jacket as the cold sea air from Muizenburg was blowing over the mountain, cooling us down.


On our way down we passed a few mountain bikers on their way up the Noordhoek Peak circuit and other people heading to the Elephant's Eye Cave and Blaze of Glory, where the rock climbing takes place.


Finishing at the Silvermine Dam where families and friends were gathered for a picnic and braai (a South African BBQ).



The Overall Experience of the Day


What made this hike so memorable wasn’t that the vegetation was very colourful or spectacular, but because of how green and open everything was. It felt like it stretched forever, and having been in lockdown and isolation for a couple of months made it even more special.


We were in this peaceful space where we could reconnect with each other and take a break from civilization. Breathing in the fresh air in that quiet, simplistic space made everything that was going on in the world seem ok...


I know most people coming to visit South Africa want to visit the famous Table Mountain or climb Lion’s Head, but to be honest - I would recommend anyone visiting South Africa to take a break and visit the Silvermine Nature Reserve instead.





Written by Irene Schoonwinkel


Personal website: https://frameofmind.co.za/



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