Big City Escape – A visit to Kloofendal Nature Reserve

This past weekend a friend and I went exploring Kloofendal Nature Reserve after a hard week of work in the big City (Yes, Joburg seems like a big city if you grew up in a series of small towns). Luckily for me, Kloofendal Nature Reserve is one of my 30 Before Thirty list items, so got to mark a sub-bullet of the first item on the list. So, yay!

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Without any further ado, grab a cup of your favourite coffee (I grabbed Organo Gold) and let us get right into it.

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First and foremost, through our whole stay at the nature reserve, not once did we feel unsafe. Entrance into the reserve was free and there were many instances of people exploring the reserve by themselves. The reserve itself feels well-trafficked, however not overly crowded. Just enough foot traffic to make you feel safe, but not so much that you feel like you cannot enjoy the nature around you. Being in South Africa, you quickly learn to act with precaution at all times.

Upon entrance into the reserve, you are greeted with a bulletin board. A board filled with all of the planned and past activities as planned by the Friends of Kloofendal community, as well as a large map containing the routes and features of the landscape. Be sure to download the map of the reserve from their website as well before you venture out.

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My friend and I aimed to do the 3.5 km hike and ended up on an unplanned 5.5 km hike through the reserve. The routes are well marked with the exception of the part of the path where the yellow route and the red route overlaps (nearing the end of the trail). However, all the routes lead to the entrance/exit, so even lost is not truly lost.

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Going through the main gates of the reserve, you will find the lavatories, and the great Amphitheater (which is visible for most of the later locations of the hike). I think that stargazing from the center of the arena on a clear evening must be something spectacular. Especially since secluded areas such as this are very rare in the City. The photos below show a section of the Planet Walk located around the Amphitheater as well as the extent of the Amphitheater from the Green trail.

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The Yellow route (The rocky ridge trail) starts with the rest of the routes and leads over to the small dam located within the reserve. This spot would without a shadow of a doubt be perfect for photoshoots (there was a small group of people who decided to take advantage of the opportunity. We, on the other hand, were too encapsulated by the signs of new growth all around us. From the tall Protea bushes to the beautiful mountainous vegetation.

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As we followed the route, the incline along the mountain became steeper with some areas along the route having an angle of what looked like 70 degrees, but with the way the pathway was cut into the landscape, even these parts made for easy hiking. The views from the viewpoints were absolutely incredible.

At our first viewpoint, we were met by a thick bank of mist, making it near to impossible to see into the valley down below. Both of us relished in the moment of the great escape from the city, the clusters of people, and the endless road network that seems like it never sleeps. This was the first time in months that I truly felt like I was not in the City, where my thoughts were clear from buzzing and hustling. I must say, the Reserve truly allows you to reroot and connect with nature in a most serene setting.

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The mist followed us on that morning, up until when we reached a valley on the other side of the mountain (hill?) where the first signs of civilization could be seen in the distance. You can’t help to envy the people living in those complexes, what a view they have of the valley. Anyways, following the markers, we head back into the dense clusters of the reserve, where tall proteas grace the landscape with their presence. It is right after this where the route became very unclear to us and we decided to just carry on straight.

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This part of the trail (which we discovered was the Red trail (the Dassie trail) saw numerous sporadic rocky outcrops and winding paths through dense forest habitats. Looking at the map now again, I think we may have combined all three trails (including the green trail (the Struben trail)) into our little excursion. Would not take it back for anything.

All and all, we completed the extended Yellow/Red/Green trail in exactly 2 hours after starting. We were not disappointed by the setting and the scenery at all. The Reserve provides one with a calm sense of nature whilst not being too far away from the City that it feels like it is out of the way. This was exactly the type of excursion you need when you want to escape the business of the city without driving too far to get your peace and quiet.

If you are interested in joining their community or finding out how you can contribute, go have a look on their website, there are numerous ways that you can get involved with in conserving this natural wonder.

This trip was a much needed trip for me personally. I look forward to exploring the Kloofendal Nature Reserve soon again (perhaps once the Holiday season has passed).

Until next time, Cheers from the Magnetic Compass.

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