Jonkershoek Panorama hiking trail is a beautiful circuit through the nature reserve with splendid mountain views near Stellenbosch.
The entrance gate to Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is 10 minutes from Stellenbosch and 1hr from Cape Town via either the N1 or N2. It’s another 5 km on a slightly rough dirt road to get to the start of this hike where parking is along the side of the road. If you don’t have a car, check out the options for car hire* from Cape Town.
Tips for Jonkershoek Hiking
- This walk is in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, managed by Cape Nature. Permits R50/30 or free with a WildCard, available at the entrance gate.
- See the Cape Nature Jonkershoek Brochure here.
- A large fire swept through this area in 2020. Check with Cape Nature to see if the reserve has reopened.
- The entrance gate hours are 08:00 to 18:00. Office closes 16:00.
- To get to the start invovles driving on a slightly rough dirt road. One time we got a puncture. Drive carefully.
- Sunhat, sunscreen and water are advised in sunny weather.
- It can be cold in winter with snow dusting the high mountains.
- Why not also try a shorter hike in the small Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve just next door?
The hike is signed from the road, just around the corner of the bend. The trail is well marked and clear all the way around.
To start with the trail heads gradually up the gentle slopes beneath the surrounding mountains. There are nice views straight away. You reach the base of a steeper section and hike along the contour line before zigzagging steeply up to a wonderful viewpoint.
Bergrivier Nek Panorama
From the Jonkershoek Panorama viewpoint at Bergrivier Nek, you see down Assegaaiboskloof, a gorgeous valley stretching far into the distance. Make sure you stop here to take many photos of this gorgeous view.
There are several hiking trails in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve:
The Panorama Circuit (14 km, 1050 m climb) is described here. It includes the much-photographed Assegaaiboskloof Valley view and comes back down passing the two waterfalls. It starts at the tight bend in the road at the far end of the valley.
The popular Tweede Waterval Trail (5 km, 200 m climb) is an easy hike taking in two waterfalls. You can swim/submerge yourself in the rock pools at the base of both these waterfalls. There’s more water in winter or after it has rained. It starts at the same place as the Panorama Trail described here, which also passes these two waterfalls.
The Swartboskloof Route (15.5 km, 950 m climb) starts closer to the entrance of the reserve from a small car park at the side of the road. After a steep climb, the path beings to flatten out and you pass Guardian Peak to descend back down past the two waterfalls, following the same route as the Panorama Trail. This trail ends with a flat 2 km hike along the dirt road.
The Swartboskloof-Sosyskloof Trail (1.7-6.5 km, 85-280 m climb) is an easy route through lovely indigenous forest that can be extended to include a viewpoint and longer route back down. It starts from the same car park as the Swartboskloof Route above.
Assegaaibosch is just next door to Jonkershoek Nature Reserve and there are two fairly short hikes there (2 and 6 km). You can also have a picnic, braai, and go swimming there if there is enough water in the river.
From this viewpoint, the hiking trail continues along the edge of the mountains with spectacular views all around. The trail is slightly narrow but it’s not close to any steep drop and there is minimal technical difficulty.
You eventually climb the little last bit to a flat plateau area, which is the highest point on the Panorama trail.
The path continues along before heading slightly down to reach a saddle with great views over Jonkershoek Nature Reserve Valley below. You have a choice here and can head up the nearby Guardian’s Peak (Sterrekykerskop – Star Gazers Peak). This adds an extra 100 m climb and 1.5 km to the hike. It’s worth it for the great views. We found the top itself was slightly unclear, but there were definitely good views from anywhere up here.
Hiking back down to Jonkershoek Valley
Whether you reach the top of Guardians Peak or not, it’s now time to head down. The way down is very steep so watch your step while hiking.
You pass close Tweede Waterval on the way down. You can see the waterfall from the trail but to get to the small pool near its base you have to follow the small path to the left through the trees. There is a shallow rock pool at the base of this waterfall where you can paddle, or submerge yourself to cool off. It’s not deep enough to swim properly. In mid-summer, the water levels might be quite low but at least you can splash yourself and cool your feet.
Continuing onward, you’ll find Eerste Waterval on your left, about 1.5 km past Tweede Waterval. There is a short, 200 m trail to reach the base of the waterfall where there is also a pool for submerging yourself.
After this waterfall it’s not far back to your car along a gently descending trial.
If you want to try a shorter hike nearby, check out the adjacent Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve, where there’s also a great picnic and braai spot. For another great mountain hike in the Winelands, try hiking up Simonsberg from Tokara. Check out our Cape Winelands Highlights for other things to do.
FAQS – Jonkershoek Hiking
There are several trails at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, varying in length from a few kilometres to more than 10 km. The trail to the two waterfalls is 5 km with 200 m of climb. The Panorama Hiking Circuit is 12.5 km long with roughly 1000 m of climb.
There are several rivers, rock pools and waterfalls in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, perfect for swimming to cool down on warm summer days. Eerste and Tweede Waterfalls both have rock pools at their base where you can submerge yourself, though they aren’t really deep enough for full swimming. There is a river by the Assegaaibosch Picnic area where you can swim if the water levels are high enough.
Dogs are not allowed into Jonkershoek Nature Reserve.