On a bright clear day in the Mother City, there is no better place to go soak up the sun than Silvermine Nature Reserve. About a fifteen minute drive outside of Cape Town CBD, the reserve forms part of Table Mountain National Park, which extends from Signal Hill in the north to Cape Point in the south and encompasses all the scenic rocks between.
You’ll need a car with rather a lot of voomah to get up Ou Kaapse Weg which takes you to the park nestled up in the mountains, but the drive will offer you spectacular panoramas of False Bay and Table Mountain looming over the southern suburbs of Cape Town in the distance. If you happen to pass the turn-off to Silvermine, this winding road will take you to Scarborough, Kommetjie, Simonstown and Cape Point, so the selection of spectacular scenery nearby is rich and varied.
After paying the nominal entrance fee at the gate, visitors enter the reserve with their relieved vehicles (or, if dressed in the required tight luminescent attire, bicycles) and after a few minutes on the gravel path find themselves in a still, quiet dip, blissfully cut off from the hustle bustle of the Mother City and its surrounds. The valley and hills in the reserve are carpeted with the Cape’s delicate fynbos and are thick with indigenous birds, offering nature enthusiasts a rich array of colour and animal life to admire.
After a hike up along Steenberg Ridge to the Elephant’s Eye sandstone cave, rock-climbing, or a gentle stroll on one of the well-marked trails around the park, visitors can sink into the rooibos-tea coloured waters of the reservoir. Originally built in 1898 to supply water to the growing Cape metropolis, the reservoir now is the hub around which a lot of the reserve’s life revolves. On weekends you can find the young and old, often joined by their canine pets, dipping their toes in the cool water or going for long, languorous swims across its amber expanse.
There are picnic areas in the shady trees or next to the water for families and groups to settle down after a long walk. Unfortunately, braaing is not encouraged in summer due to the risk of veldfires breaking out. A common occurrence in the hot dry summers across the Western Cape, wildfires can wreak destruction of the precious wildlife as well as damage buildings, often helped along by the fierce South-Easters. Guests should ask at the gate to be sure of the right spot to fire up a braai, and check the weather before they leave the house to save themselves an unnecessary beating by the wind.
Because the reservoir is within short walking distance of the carpark, the more chilled visitors can drag their hammocks, magazines and overflowing snackbaskets to the water’s edge for some down-time. Though regulars will tell you a cold-drink and a punnet of strawberries is particularly sweet after a hike in the hot sun and a rewarding swim.
Photo from here by Glen Van Niekerk