Here There Be Tygers… (Okay, no tigers, but there are cool plants and awesome animals to marvel at).
Hidden among the hills in Cape Town’s northern suburbs, this lush haven offers an easy escape from Bellville’s urban sprawl. Blessed with a rich diversity of plant and bird life, the 388-hectare Tygerberg Nature Reserve offers spectacular views of city, sea and mountain. Here are just a few reasons to visit this pristine and well cared for area.
Important note Although the Cape is rich in natural beauty, tourists and locals alike are urged to take necessary precautions when exploring secluded areas, as crimes and accidents do happen.
Those venturing into the Table Mountain National Park should have the following emergency numbers on hand: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700. Criminal incidents should be reported to the nearest police station as soon as able.
We also recommend @safetymountain as a useful resource for hikers. This free safety tracking service allows you to notify local trackers of your contact details, intended route and travel time via whatsapp. You are then able to provide hourly updates on your progress, and to notify trackers when you are safely off the mountain.
1. Hiking Trails Aplenty
Well-marked hiking trails wind their way throughout the reserve, in some cases climbing up hills that offer unrivalled panoramic views of Cape Town. Table Mountain and Robben Island are both visible from this vantage point and, in clear conditions, you’ll be able to see the False Bay coastline.
Be sure to take plenty of water, as the more rigorous trails can be quite testing. You’ll want to pack warm clothing in winter, as it gets quite chilly up top.
Good to know Tygerberg Nature Reserve’s network of walking routes includes a wheelchair-friendly trail, close to the picnic area.
2. Bird- and Animal-Watching
The reserve is home to around 137 bird species, as well as 24 mammal species, 22 reptiles, seven types of frogs and a variety of butterflies. It’s a nature-lover’s paradise, in terms of the rich diversity of wildlife.
Be sure to keep an eye out for Cape foxes, striped polecats, mongooses, badgers, dassies, porcupines, baboons and various small antelope. (Sadly no tigers, despite the name…)
3. Botanical Bouquet
A hefty 562 plants species flourish here, including 23 threatened species that are protected within the bounds of the reserve, eight species that are endemic to Cape Town, and three that are endemic to reserve itself. Interestingly, Tygerberg Nature Reserve happens to be the largest conserved piece of Swartland Shale Renosterveld (a critically endangered vegetation type).
4. Have a Picnic
The reserve includes a picnic area, complete with tables and chairs, under the shade of pine trees. It’s wheelchair- and pram-friendly, and can be accessed from the Welgemoed gate.
5. Learn About the Land
The Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre, situated within the reserve, offers valuable educational resources for those interested in learning about the rich biodiversity of the area. It’s well-equipped, with a lecture room, audio-visual equipment and a library, making it an ideal venue for a school outing or business conference.
And if you’re serious about getting to know the land, a qualified environmental educator will gladly provide guided tours of the reserve.
If walks in nature are your thing, why not head to Newlands Forest?