Silvermine Nature Reserve forms part of the Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town, South Africa. Situated on the mountains of the southern Cape Peninsula between Muizenberg and Noordhoek, Silvermine Nature Reserve covers over 2000 ha of mainly mountain fynbos. A feature of the reserve is the Silvermine River, which flows through a forested gorge and joins up with a tributary flowing over a picturesque waterfall.
It was thought that these mountains contained silver and so shafts were sunk to try and find it. They found no silver but the name stuck and today it is a fynbos rich area.
There are over 900 species of fynbos to be found in the reserve, mainly proteas, ericas and restios. Stop by the main gate on the west side to see their display of the flowers currently in bloom.
In 1898 a reservoir was built to be used as a water supply, but since 1912 this beautifully still body of water, surrounded by picnic spots and trees is purely for enjoyment.
The reserve is divided by Ou Kaapse Weg into two sections, in the western area where the reservoir is, the plateau sits above Tokai and Muizenberg, offering a spectacular panoramic view of the city.
SANParks has a Hoerikwaggo Tented Camp in the reserve, so you can spend a night here. There’s a fully equipped kitchen and a communal braai area plus hot showers. For day trippers, there are bathrooms next to the reservoir. (Adapted from article by Lindsay Callaghan)
For Birders: The variety of habitat, makes birding here worthwhile. Alpine, Little and White-rumped Swifts have been recorded with African Black Swifts sometimes occurring in large numbers. Rock Martins are regularly seen, and Barn and Greater Striped Swallows are summer visitors. Spot rock kestrels, kites, Jackal buzzards, and in Summer, Common Buzzards, and peregrine falcons. There are also resident black eagles. In spring when many proteas and ericas are in flower it is easy to find Cape Sugarbird and Southern Double-collared, Malachite and Orange-breasted Sunbirds.
Cape Bunting and Cape Siskin can be found mainly in rocky areas which are also favoured by Ground Woodpecker and Familiar Chat. It is also one of the few places on the peninsula where both Sentinal and Cape Rock Thrushes are found together. Other species that can be seen or heard easily are Cape Grassbird, Cape Robin-chat, Cape Batis, Cape White-eye, Southern Boubou, Neddicky, Karoo Prinia, Cape Bulbul and Sombre Greenbul.
TMNP emergency numbers: 086 110 6417, 107 or 021 937 0300
Walk and ride
Both the east and the west side of the reserve offer lovely walks while the mountain bike trails are only on the west side. The walks all start out with clear maps and are well-marked. There are short and longer trails to choose from. Be prepared for all weathers as the clouds roll in over Silvermine very rapidly. Pick up a map at the entrance, the various routes are clearly illustrated to keep you on track.
Silvermine mountain bike trail
Drive up the road from the main gate on the west side and look out for the turn off to the right, there is a parking lot with a bathroom where the trail starts. The route passes the reservoir and goes up to Noordhoek Peak before circling back.
Duration: The circular route is about 7.5km long.
Circle the reservoir
Drive through the first gate to the west section on the right of Ou Kaapse Weg, if you’re coming from the Tokai side. Carry on up the road to the parking lot at the end of the reservoir, from here you can follow the wooden boardwalk.The boardwalk leads for a short stroll around the reservoir with its rooibos-coloured water, home to a couple of Egyptian geese and schools of fish. It is a lovely swimming spot in Summer. Bring a picnic as there are designated spots all around the reservoir. There are also built in Braai areas to make a tasty lunch (only in Winter when there is no fire risk)
Look out for: The pair of Egyptian geese that call this area home.
Duration: A picturesque route of 20 mins and perfect for young children.
Silvermine River Walk.
A pleasant, peaceful amble, this circular route in the Silvermine Reserve along the river from near the entrance gate to the reservoir. Turn right after you go through the pay point on the west side and park here. The path sets off down the gravel road, past Hennie’s Pool/ Uthango picnic area and up the stream to the reservoir. The sound of water flowing and birds singing is the soundtrack to your stroll, the surroundings are green and pretty, passing through some keurboom forest, and you’ll cross a bridge over a small waterfall. This 5km hike includes stretches of jeep track, rocky bits for easy scrambling and wooden boardwalk – including the final stretch around the dam. Great for all, young and old.
Start and end at the Entrance gate parking area, Silvermine Reserve (Gate 1), Ou Kaapse Weg (M3).
Duration: Around 1.5 to 2 hours both ways.
The views from this lofty mountain (754m) are pretty spectacular. Park at the reservoir and follow the track below the dam wall and steadily up to get to a wide gravel road that will take you past a lookout, here you’ll have fantastic views of Noordhoek Valley and Long Beach. Each gain in elevation gives increasingly better views over the Peninsula. Continue along the gravel road and take the path to the left, marked by stone cairns that leads up to the summit and the beacon with views of Chapman’s Peak Drive, Hout Bay and the Sentinel.
The peak is quite exposed and can be windy, so take care. This track is also used by mountain-bikers, so keep an eye out on blind corners.
Start and end point: Silvermine Dam, Silvermine Reserve (Gate 1), Ou Kaapse Weg (M3)
Duration: A 7 km loop hike. Takes about 3 hours.
The hike starts from the parking lot at the reservoir, look out for the sign that has a detailed map of the route. You’ll start out on a path which will take you to a dirt road. The ‘eye’ of the elephant is a wide cave which is a good place to enjoy a break and snack while you enjoy the view.
Look out for: The stream that turns into a mini waterfall as it falls off the edge of the mountain.
Duration: It’ll take about 2.5 hours to get there and back.
This is just one of the walks on the east side, above Muizenberg and Kalk Bay, the turn off to the gate is on the left of Ou Kaapse Weg around the corner from the first entrance if you’re coming from Tokai. Park here. The hike offers a view of the mountain range that stretches from Tokai to Cape Town with the city spread out below. Follow the gravel road up to Steenberg Peak. The path then descends to Wolfkop and circles back to the parking lot.
Look out for: Junction Pool before you reach the peak.
Duration: This round trip will take about three hours.
The waterfall is a relatively short walk of 6.5 kms in Sun Valley and is surrounded by a forest. This hike is for everyone, even kids – it has many changes of scenery and some incredible views of the coast. Steep for a short period and gradual incline terrain for the rest.
Duration: 3 hours
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