Situated above the town of Somerset West on the southern side of the Helderberg Mountain, the Helderberg Nature Reserve covers an area of 286 ha and falls under the control of the Helderberg Municipality. The Reserve comprises a garden and the southern slopes of the Helderberg Mountain. For the energetic climber, the view from the top of the Helderberg Mountain of False Bay, the Peninsula and the Hottentots Hollands Mountain range is well worth the climb.
Protea Canary, Victorin's Warbler, Cape Sugarbird, Orangebreasted Sunbird, Cape Siskin, Karoo Prinia, Cape Rockjumper, Cape Bulbul, Cape Francolin.
The Helderberg Nature Reserve consists mostly of mountain fynbos, but the higher mountain slopes hold rocky gorges and gullies. The Disa River holds well - wooded riverine vegetation.
A large picnic site, toilets, restaurant and information centre can be found near the Entrance Gate. The garden and southern slopes are covered by a number of paths.
1. The botanical garden near the Reserve entrance is always busy with birds and a number of interesting species including Forktailed Drongo, Orangebreasted Sunbird, Malachite Sunbird, Cape Batis, Cape Sugarbird, Speckled Mousebird, Cape Francolin, Barthroated Apalis, Cape Bulbul, Grassbird and Yellowrumped Widow can be found.
2. Various small dams in the garden support African Sedge Warbler, Levaillant's Cisticola, Cape Weaver, Yellowbilled Duck, Cape Teal and Spurwinged Goose.
3. Moving further up the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, one finds Karoo Prinia, Greybacked Cisticola, Bokmakierie, Lesser DoubleCollared Sunbird, and Cape Sugarbird amongst the fynbos vegetation. In the moister, denser vegetation, listen out for the clear repetitive call of the Victorin's Warbler. Further up the slopes look for Cape Siskin, and at the base of the rocky areas look out for Ground Woodpecker and Cape Rockjumper.
4. Forested gullies in the Disa River hold species such as Olive Woodpecker, Cape Batis, Cinnamon Dove and Rameron Pigeon. protea Canaries may also be found on the periphery of forest patches and in protea stands. Check for Black Sawwing Swallows flitting above the forest patches.
5. An eye should be kept out for Hottentot Buttonquail (short restio plains) and Striped Flufftail (damp grassy areas), which have both been recorded on the slopes of the Helderberg mountain.
6. Check the skies above the garden and slopes for Alpine Swift, African Goshawk and Redbreasted Sparrowhawk. Higher up on the slopes, Black Eagle and Jackal Buzzard have been recorded.
To find the Helderberg Nature Reserve from cape Town, take the N2 towards Somerset West. On approaching Somerset West, turn left onto the R44 towards Stellenbosch. At the first set of Traffic Lights, turn right into Main Road. At the fourth set of Traffic Lights turn left into Lourensford. From Lourensford, take a left into Hillcrest, right into Reservoir Road and then left into Verster Avenue. A small fee is payable at the gate. The Reserve is open between 07h00 and 16h00 from April to October and between 07h00 and 20h00 from November to March. The Helderberg Municipality can be contacted on (021) 851 6982 during working hours. The garden should not take more than a couple of hours to cover, while the mountain (depending on the height to which you wish to climb) could take a full morning to explore