U3A News – Helderberg Nature Reserve Feature
We’re delighted to feature in the latest newsletter from the U3A! An informative and well-researched article.
Thank you Ewald!
Helderberg Quarterly Newsletter, November 2016
Written by Ewald Swart, Editor of U3A Quarterly Newsletter
Get to Know and Enjoy the Helderberg Basin
The Helderberg Nature Reserve is a 402 hectare reserve located on the southern slopes of the Helderberg Mountains. It started off as a wild-flower garden but was proclaimed a reserve in 1960, specifically to protect important mountain fynbos. It consists mostly of an incredibly specie-rich vegetation type, known as Kogelberg Sandstone Fynbos. It also preserves the critically endangered Swartland Shale Renosterveld and the vulnerable Cape Winelands Shale Fynbos and pockets of the least threatened Southern Afrotemperate Forest.
Altogether more than 600 species of plants are recorded there which includes a wide range of Proteas. Particularly prominent plants are the Pincushion Proteas, Cone Bushes, Sugar Bushes, Heaths and the Waboom Tree. Thirteen of these plants are threatened with extinction. There exists 5 hectares of Silver Trees in the Silwerboomkloof section.
Over 170 species of birds, 30 reptiles and 8 amphibians have been recorded in the reserve. Among the animals that have been sighted are Leopard, Caracal, Grey Duiker, Cape Grysbok, Steenbok, Mongoose as well as Angulate and Padloper Tortoises.
There are many walking trails through the reserve, most of them circular. They are, in fact, so popular that regular walkers make use of an Early Riser Key which allows them access into the reserve before opening hours so they can beat the heat and enjoy the quiet of the reserve. The hiking routes are well marked and colour coded, and, whilst quite short individually, can be combined to make a decent 8.3km tramp.
The reserve hosts Outdoor Music Concerts in the summer, and has a Café, Picnic Area, Gift Shop, Environmental Education Centre and Museum Displays. Entrance to the reserve is from Verster Avenue in Somerset West.
Opening hours are from 07:30 until 20:00 in summer and closes an hour earlier in winter. Entrance fee is R10 per vehicle and R10 per Senior Citizen.
You can purchase an annual membership by joining the Friends of the Helderberg Nature Reserve. Friends enter for free with proof of a valid membership card.