A weekend of festivities to come in the Bottelary Hills Conservancy

Posted by Anita Froneman on 21 September 2021

The Western Cape is finally warming up and what better way to celebrate the arrival of summer than a weekend outdoors?

The Bottelary Hills Renosterveld Conservancy (BHRC) in the Stellenbosch area is a non-profit and collective effort by a group of private landowners to protect the very rare renosterveld vegetation that has almost vanished from the earth.

‘Unlike fynbos, which grows in poor soils, renosterveld grows in very rich fertile soils. As a result, most of it has been replaced with vines and other commercial crops. Less than 4% of the original renosterveld in the Western Cape remains,’ the Conservancy states.

Although renosterbos is the dominant vegetation in renosterveld areas, many other plants are also prominent – the Daisy Family, Pea Family and Gardenia Family among others. Game such as caracal, grysbok, grey duiker, porcupine, bat-eared foxes, cape foxes and the endangered geometric tortoise, which is only to be found in renosterveld, have been identified in the BHRC.


Credit: CapeNature

‘Concerned landowners together with Cape Nature Conservation initiated a conservation program to protect the remaining vegetation, rehabilitate sensitive areas and reintroduce species lost to the area.’

So, to celebrate this magnificent area we have right here on our doorstep, create awareness and have fun, the Conservancy is hosting a MTB & Eco Weekend from 1 -3 October, with various events being hosted by some of its members.  Here’s what’s on offer.

Ride, hike and run for renosterveld

Bike, hike, sip and taste your way through this off-the-beaten-track destination in the heart of the Cape Winelands.

Mountain bike magic 

Mountain bikers have the amazing opportunity to select their dream ride from seven self-guided trail routes from different starting points varying in distance and difficulty levels. The specially marked routes will be open on Saturday 2 October and range from 18km to 36km across rolling hillsides, vineyard trails and single tracks through the indigenous Renosterveld. One of the brand new single tracks has been developed by multiple world triathlon champion Conrad Stoltz. Even if you have done tracks in the Bottelary area before, there are plenty of new additions to enjoy.

Entries will be limited to between 50 and 100 riders per venue in adherence to current COVID protocols.  Entry fees are from R230 – R250 and include a bottle of wine.  Limited entries from Bellevue, Devonvale, Fort Simon, Jordan, Karibib, Neethlingshof and Zevenwacht. Enter at www.entryninja.com.  Take note that the MTB trails are only open to weekend riders on Saturday 2 October and will run on the normal annual and day permit system from Sunday 3 October.

Trail run fun 

Runners will have special access to the new 6.2km Polkadraai MTB loop, normally restricted to cyclists only, by entering the Smokkel Run from Karabib on Friday evening.  Entries are limited to 100 runners at R220.  This is a self-timed race and all finishers receive a bottle of either Smokkelman Red or White of their choosing.  The race starts at 18:30 at the Somm & Co Karibib Tasting Room with food and wine available for supporters and after the race.  Headlamps are mandatory. Enter at www.entryninja.com.

Guided hikes

Hikers can explore the 5.6km and 6.3km hiking trails on Mooiplaas and Koopmanskloof wine estates on Sunday 3 October.  Both trails offer spectacular 360-degree views of Table Mountain, the Cape Peninsula, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Table Bay and False Bay.  The hikes will cost R220 per person and includes a wine tasting and bottle of wine.  Entries are limited to 20 from Koopmanskloof and 35 from Mooiplaas.  Book your spot here.

4X4 wine tours

Get a taste of the laid-back local lifestyle by exploring the area in the comfort of an open vintage 4×4 truck fitted with picnic tables during a 4-hour wine adventure on Saturday 2 October. Tickets are R300 per person and limited to 24 guests in total.

The wine adventure will take you along vineyard trails and farm roads between three family-owned estates on the northern slopes of the Bottelary Hills. Soak in the beautiful surroundings and taste award-winning wines at Goedehoop, Groenland and Kaapzicht wine estates.  Trucks will depart from Groenland and Kaapzicht at 10:30 for the first of three wine tastings before rotating to your second stop and finally meeting up at Goedehoop Wine Estate. Here you can purchase something to eat and experience the rustic farm atmosphere before your last wine tasting. Trucks will return to the respective starting points at 14:30. Book your spot here.

Game drive and wine tasting 

Sit back and relax on a two-hour game drive through the 220 hectares of the Villiera farm followed by an informal wine tasting of a selection of six Cap Classique, white and red wines.  The farm includes twelve dams plus marsh areas, which attract a huge variety of birdlife.  A number of mammals have been introduced in the wildlife sanctuary including springbok, kudu, giraffe, bontebok, eland, gemsbok, black wildebeest, bush pig, Burchell’s zebra, common duiker, steenbuck, waterbuck and grysbok.

Game drives can be booked on Sunday 3 October for 09:00 – 11:00 (tasting will be afterwards) or 13:00 – 15:00 (tasting will be before the drive at 12:00). The rates are R260 for adults and R130 for kids under the age of 15 with a maximum of six people per vehicle. Bookings via [email protected].

Funding conservation 

The BHRC is a registered non-profit organisation that forms part of the Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve. Funds generated through annual and day permits as well as events are used mainly to subsidize alien vegetation eradication. In addition, dedicated community programmes and projects address the socio-economic challenges of the people living and working on the farms within the BHRC.

You can take a look at all the BHRC members here

You can buy annual permits here

Pictures: Supplied


Caracal kittens spotted in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

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