Trees down – let’s bring back the shade

Much of that lovely shade in the picnic areas of the Nature Reserve has gone, lost in the big storm. The Friends have made an urgent appeal for donations to their tree fund to allow new large trees to be bought and planted before the summer. Please see this extract from our newsletter with banking details at the bottom.


We need your help

Wednesday 7 June 2017 will be remembered for many years to come as The Big Storm. Rain and wind lashed the Cape and the Helderberg Nature Reserve was not spared the devastation. During the night the strong winds wreaked havoc in the picnic area. The top site was worst hit where two large oak trees were severely damaged. Reserve staff spent a few days cutting up the fallen branches and removing the remainder of the splintered trunks.


Replacing the trees

Over the years the oak trees have provided much needed shade, especially in the hot summer months and will need to be replaced as soon as possible. The City has approved the purchase of some large established indigenous trees, endemic to the area. Unfortunately these come a huge cost.


Tree Fund

Reserve Management and the Friends have therefore set up a Tree Fund for the purchase of such trees and we appeal to members and visitors to the reserve to support this initiative. Any amount, large or small, will be welcome. Donations can be made at the Visitor Centre or paid directly into the Friends bank account (details below).
This appeal is urgent as the trees will need to be planted by mid-August in order for the roots to become established before the summer months.
Should you require more information, do not hesitate to contact Reserve Management or the Visitor Centre.

Let’s make a difference

I trust that together we can make a difference and purchase as many trees as possible. Thank you for your support – until next time.
– Owen Wittridge

Bank details for donations to the Tree Fund

  • Bank: ABSA
  • A/c Name: Friends of the Helderberg Nature Reserve
  • A/c No: 9072029429
  • Branch: 632005
  • Reference: Your Friends membership number followed by Tree Fund

All grown up…..

We spent most of this hack clearing a large patch of port jackson not far above the reservoir. These plants have grown more outward than upward and as a consequence are difficult to grab and remove with a tree popper. We used the poppers as a first line of attack and followed up with loppers and herbicide wherever the poppers struggled…..

To read more, click here: >> Newsletter-2017-04



Aliens in Retreat!


This was a pretty hot hack, the last of our early summer starts. We toiled under a blue sky and unrelenting sun and so sought shade for our tea break. A very suitable spot was occupied by a duiker. Surprised by our presence, it moved off – I imagine it was rather reluctant to lose its shelter from the sun. We worked on the verge of the road……

Click here to read more: Newsletter-2017-03 ALIENS



April Newsletter

Our quarterly newsletter is available for downloading – enjoy this informative and interesting read in either English or Afrikaans:

Click here for English: Newsletter april 2017 email

Click here for Afrikaans: Nuusbrief April 2017 email

Newsletter april 2017 email

Celebrating a 79th summit!

Every so often, you meet someone quite extraordinary, with an incredible tale to tell. Today was one of those days, and the extraordinary person I had the pleasure of chatting to was Hugh Middleton. Hugh has become somewhat of a Helderberg legend in the last 6 years, having hiked to the West Peak 78 times. Yes – you read that right – 78 times! And he’s not slowing down. In fact, you may hear a bit of whinging from the groups of hikers he escorts up to the West peak – Hugh is just too fast! As a regular hiker / trail runner, and having been up to the West Peak a few times, I dared to ask him how fast is fast. Quickest time, 3 hours 30 minutes. Stunned silence from me!

By the way – Hugh is 79 years old (!!)

So – here comes the fun part. You are ALL invited to join Hugh for his 79th hike up to the West Peak this Saturday, 3 December, starting at 7.30am. There will be 2 hiking options – the ‘shorter’ version will be doing Leopard’s Loop (Grade 2B, approx. 3 hours) – lead by the experienced hiker, Ron. The fitter group will be led by Hugh and continue on to the West peak (Grade 3B, approx. 6 hours – slower than Hugh’s normal blistering pace, as we’re expecting quite a crowd).

Hugh turns 80 in December this year, and will be spending a restful day racing up to the West Peak for the 80th time, accompanied by his 3 sons for a family celebration!

Hugh – you are a true inspiration! Congratulations – on behalf of the Friends of the Helderberg, we wish you MANY more happy hours spent on the mountain.

For more information about joining Hugh for his 79th hike, contact Don on 072 270 7972



Please note, you need suitable footwear – good boots are mandatory for West Peak. Bring sun protection – and at least 1.5 litres of water and snacks. These hikes are hosted by the Friends of the Helderberg Reserve and are open to visitors as well as members. No fee to join the walk, however the entry fee to the Reserve for visitors in R20,00 per person, R10,00 for seniors and R10,00 per car.

November Newsletter

The November Newsletter is available in both English and Afrikaans – click on the link below and enjoy an entertaining and informative read!




Sundowners with Jesse Jordan Band

Having previously played to capacity crowds in the Reserve, the Jesse Jordan Band is all set to launch the Summer Sunday sunset concert series on 4 December 2016 at the Helderberg Nature Reserve in Somerset West.

The Jesse Jordan Band is full of energy and with their signature rock and pop sound continues to gain new fans.

The band was established in 1999 and has gained much popularity over the years. Jesse Jordan plays the acoustic guitar and fronts the band. Hein Schultz is the lead guitarist and Logan Scott, known for his rock solid groove on the bass, brings the perfect foundation as the link between the harmonic, melodic and rhythmic elements. Keeping a perfect beat on drums, is JP Crouch.

Pack a picnic, arrive early and enjoy the sunset and excellent performers. All concerts start at 5:30 pm and tickets can be bought at the gate or at Computicket. The tickets cost R60 per adult and R30 for scholars (ages 5 to18). There is no admission fee for children under the age of five. The price includes entrance to the Reserve. Parking is available inside the Reserve. The gates open at 3:30 pm for concert goers.

The Jesse Jordan Band is all set to entertain you on Sunday, 24 February.

The Jesse Jordan Band is all set to entertain you on Sunday, 24 February.


All proceeds generated by the Sunset Concerts go towards environmental projects in the Helderberg Nature Reserve.

Enquiries: (021) 851-4060.




Issued on behalf of the concerts committee for the Friends of the Helderberg Nature Reserve.

Die Burger, ‘Buite’ – 8 November 2016

What a fabulous article about the Nature Reserve, featured in the Burger this week! Everything you need to know about our beautiful reserve. Thanks Malani Venter!!




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!


U3A News

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.


Cheerful Faces

(Bolander Newspaper, 1 November 2016, Anne Alessandri)

I’ve lived in Somerset West for over 20 years – and for all of that time, I’ve happily waved at the same cheerful face every time I’ve gone to visit the Helderberg Nature Reserve, as I’m sure have many of you. Then last week I stopped to chat to that cheerful person – to put a name to his face, and hear his story. Alex Dampies has been working at the Nature Reserve for 24 years as the visitor controller. He’s a trained peace officer, and his primary function is to ensure people’s safety and security in the reserve. He ensures we all behave ourselves and obey the Nature Reserve’s rules. Not only that, but he also does regular patrols of the reserve, checking fences and keeping a look out for any unusual happenings.

This man, a former Comrades Marathon runner (twice) and trail runner (he’s run the Foot of Africa a number of times) knows the mountain like the back of his hand, having hiked every inch of it more times than you can count. His favorite part of the mountain? Ah – his secret, he tells me. A little magical spot, about half way up – accessible to hikers, but relatively unknown. And he’d like to keep it that way! I begged and cajoled, and with the promise to secrecy, I managed to get the location #happyme! So if you’re looking for me this weekend, ask Alex where to find me…… Happy hiking!