Stories of the mountains – Stellenbosch

Stories of the mountains – Stellenbosch

If you like mountaineering, Stellenbosch is one of the best places to live. This might explain why many street names in Stellenbosch are named after the mountains.

Piekesig Street, Uitsig Street, Botmaskop Way, Simonsberg Street, Bergzicht Street.

Am I ready for the mountains?

Start by hiking one of the well marked Cape Nature routes in Jonkershoek nature reserve.

  • Swartboskloof up to Sosyskloof 5.3km or 6.9km
  • Second Waterfall: 6.4km
  • Panorama Circuit: 17km
  • Swartboskloof: 18km

Then try Saaltjie, Botmaskop or Stellenbosch Mountain with some other hikers.

Cathedral peak, Twin Peaks (Pieke), Haelkop and Dwarsberg are for experienced hikers. Do it with an expert or someone from the mountain club. You might need a permit.

What are Stellenbosch’s highest peaks?

Somerset Sneeukop and Victoria Peak are covered with snow in winter. They are deep in the valley where the Hottentots Holland mountains and Franschhoek Mountains connect to Jonkershoek.

Both could count as Stellenbosch’s highest peaks since there’s some disagreement about which is higher; Somerset Sneeukop (1590m) or Victoria peak (just one meter lower at 1589m).

What safety measures should I take when mountaineering?

Mountain climbing legend Ernst Lotz prescribed the following rules for when hiking in the mountains.

  1. Keep an eye on the time. A hike usually takes longer than expected.
  2. Keep an eye on the weather. When the clouds start gathering in dense formations, it’s time to turn around.
  3. Beware of loose stones and make sure you have a solid footing with each step. After heavy rain or fires, the possibility of loose stones is at its worst.
  4. Make mental notes of your environment. Study beacons or other features in the landscape in case you get lost.
  5. Stay on recognized routes. Don’t stray from the group – not even a few meters.
  6. Always take warm clothes, even in summer.
  7. Take a whistle and a head lamp/flash light in case you need to give an emergency signal.
  8. Don’t climb alone and make sure someone at home knows what the group’s plans are. If you go missing it’s much easier if someone knows where you are.
  9. Proper shoes with rubber soles are absolutely essential.

Can I join a mountain club?

Yes, for more serious mountaineers, the MCSA (Mountain Club of South Africa) is a good option. It’s a national club with a local branch in Stellenbosch.

The club for students is called the BTK (‘mountain and touring club’) and their excursions are mainly planned around the students’ calendar.

The ‘Stellenbosch voetslaanklub’ offers a “variety of steps suited to a variety of fitness and adventure levels”.

Meridian hiking club is based in Cape Town.


What are the names of Stellenbosch’s mountains?

  • Botmaskop
  • Dwarsberg
  • Helderberg
  • Cathedral Peak
  • Stellenbosch Mountain
  • Twin Peaks
  • Victoria Peak
  • Simonsberg
  • Stellenbosch Mountain
  • The Triplets
  • Haelkop
  • Spitskop
  • Somerset-Sneeukop

Where can I get more info on Stellenbosch hikes?

This blogger has some wonderful in-depth descriptions, maps, photos and videos of the trails in the area.

Happy climbing!


copyright Y Coetsee



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