Phillipskop Mountain Reserve – a special place

A recent visit to Hermanus allowed me to fulfil a long-held wish to walk in the Phillipskop Mountain Reserve just beyond Stanford, in the Klein River mountains. Having followed their Facebook page for a while now, I knew it to be a place with endemic fynbos, well established trails for varying fitness levels and beautiful scenery. A recent discovery of rock paintings of similar nature and age to those along the Southern Cape coast and Cederberg Wilderness in a cave hidden up the Candlewood Ravine would also be worth a visit.

Our small group of hikers arrived at Phillipskop after a bumpy ride over hill and dale, with skies that threatened rain on the one hand, and promised sunshine on the other. We determined to blow the clouds away, and were in most part very successful, but took the rain gear to make sure. Having paid our R40 entrance fee (for the public), we set off along the Waterfall trail, said to be the flattest and easiest on the reserve. A very pleasant meander through slopes covered in mimetes, Cape Snow, ericas and other fynbos resulted in my being able to add 6 new species to my collection of photos which in itself was good enough reason to be there, but the views almost through the valley to the Agulhas plain and back towards Walker Bay were stunning, especially with the variations in the light on the cultivated fields below.

Once we reached the Waterfall ravine, the path narrowed considerably and fell away steeply on the right and we had to concentrate on our footing. Frequent stops were necessary to admire the contorted rock formations that resulted from the lifting of the sea bed eons ago, with a particularly interesting massive pillar standing alone on the hillside like a giant’s game of Jenga. It was no longer flat and easy, and we were quite relieved that we hadn’t chosen another route! Those are for another day.

Birds seen along the way included an owl and a bar-throated apalis; a nice treat. The actual waterfall was barely a trickle, but the rock face was impressive and the natural pools no doubt enticing on a hot summer’s day, so not a disappointment. Scrambling up to the cave to see the rock art was not for everyone, but I did my duty and took the pics! It was interesting and hopefully will not be subjected to vandalism due to the reserve being a little under the radar. Definitely worth the climb.

The way back was all downhill and as we looked back, we could see rain falling on the mountain we were walking down, but our determination not to be rained on bore fruit and we reached the cars dry and well exercised, ready for beer and lunch!

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