Summer is the time to explore this forest in the middle of a city.
Blanketing the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, Newlands Forest is a favourite among (dog) walkers, trail runners, nature lovers, picnickers and tourists looking to get into nature without having to venture far. Here are the reasons we love it:
Entering the forest from the parking area, there is a sign with information detailing the various routes. The easier ones are made up of interlinking paths, with a few streams in between, some of which head up to the main Contour Path. This winds its way all around the base of Table Mountain, from Tafelberg Road in the City Bowl to Constantia Nek, and offers panoramic views of the city.
Avid hikers use the forest as an entry for the four trails that wind up to the top of the mountain, including Skeleton Gorge, Newlands Ravine and Nursery Ravine. These mountain trails are rocky and fairly strenuous, but the rewards are exquisite views stretching as far as the eye can see.
Nature lovers will be in their element. Newlands Forest is a mix of pine and gum plantation and the last remnants of the indigenous forest (including beautiful silver trees) that once covered the mountain, mixed with rare fynbos only found here, mosses, jungly vines and fungi. It’s home to myriad little creatures, from lizards and frogs to birds.
There’s also “Paradise”, an old woodcutter’s cottage where Lady Anne Barnard later stayed – you’ll find it hidden off the Skelmkoppad route. The Fernwood track passes a fabulous, elevated picnic spot on a deck, while the Woodcutters Path leads to Rhodes Memorial.
Please note Dogs are permitted to be off leash once on the trails. Dog walkers pay R60 for the day at the gate, or they can buy a Level 1 My Activity permit for R320 that is valid for a year from the Tokai Plantation office (021 712 7471, weekdays only).
Picnic + braai
Bring your own braai grid and enjoy a freshly grilled lunch in the designated braai and picnic areas. Note that no alcohol is allowed. Most of the stream-side picnic spots are protected by a canopy of trees, providing shade in summer. No furry companions are permitted in the braai and picnic areas, but they are more than welcome to accompany you on the walking paths.
The Newlands Forest Nursery, where indigenous species are grown to reintroduce to the forest, is worth a visit, with four large greenhouses and a vast patch of cultivated land.
Parking (vehicles) R25
Picnic area R36 (adults); R18 (children)
R72 (SADC adults); R36 (SADC children)
R144 (foreign national adults); R72 (foreign national children)
Contact 021 712 0527
Address Newlands Forest, M3, Newlands, Cape Town
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