Riversong Nature Rides & Rambles

Donella is a registered FGASA Nature Guide and can accompany you on Nature walks, cycles or drives through farms around Villiersdorp, or rambles in Nature Reserves or exploratory trips into the Overberg or Little Karoo.

I will seek to enhance your experience through interpreting signs and behaviour of animals and birds, appreciating plants, history and other aspects that interest you.

Riversong 2-sided leaflet.indd Choices of outings or cycles are listed below 

Many thanks to Linda Bester for designing this flyer!

I have the amazing privilege of being able to take small groups on walks or cycles through some of the incredibly beautiful fruit farms around Villiersdorp. These farms have wonderful fynbos and some renosterveld. If walking is difficult we can drive meandering along backroads with beautiful countryside, dams and excellent birding. Are you a keen birder or eco-tourist? Donella worked in the field of bird conservation for many years. Villiersdorp is well-situated for easy reach of many different habitats.

There are also a number of nature reserves and botanical gardens nearby with walks and trails through diverse indigenous vegetation. Mont Rochelle and Hottentots Holland Nature Reserves are half an hour away, with a number of trails in pristine fynbos. The Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay and Fernkloof Nature Reserve in Hermanus are an hour away, as is the Greyton Nature Reserve. The Caledon Wild Flower garden and Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden are 40 min away.

Villiersdorp is in a biodiversity hotspot for fynbos and renosterveld and has a rich history back to the beginnings of fruit farming and beyond to the KhoiSan people. The Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest Plant Kingdom in the world, but has the most species. There is an amazing Tractor Museum with 50 tractors ranging from the 1920’s. Other attractions include the Alwyn Vintcent steam tug and historical buildings like Dagbreek.

The valley has a number of rivers flowing into it, in days gone past game migrated through this valley on the way to the Karoo. For the Khoi and San people this area was a rich source of food and water. Now the valley holds the largest dam supplying Cape Town with fresh water; sadly it is currently very low in the midst of the current drought.

Villiersdorp is very central, with Franschhoek, Grabouw, Caledon and Worcester half an hour away and Betty’s Bay, Kleinmond, Hermanus, Greyton, McGregor, Robertson, Paarl, Stellenbosch and Somerset West an hour away. Please click on Exploring & Birding in the Overberg & Little Karoo above for further information about these areas.

Outings/Experiences (For cycling details see below)

Below I have given some choices of outings with set rates. Do remember that the Villiersdorp area is a few degrees cooler than Cape Town in autumn, winter and spring, so do bring layers of clothing. It can also be a few degrees hotter in summer.

I can also arrange outings according to your interests at an hourly rate of R150 per person. I can take up to five people on at outing.

If necessary I can transport four people comfortably in our Nissan X-Trail which has good vision and charge the rate of R4.00 per km or we can travel in your own transport. I do have a Professional Driving permit. I provide an indemnity form that I request be signed by all clients. I have a First Aid Level 1 qualification as required for all Nature Guides.

  1. Views and fynbos

This outing begins with a short drive through farmlands and up to pristine fynbos above a local farm. The farmlands change all year from beautiful blossom in spring to fruit –laden trees in summer, to autumn colours and then stark, tree shapes in winter.

We will then walk up a mountain track through stands of proteas, with restios, leucodendrons and the delicate arid leucospermum for about 30-40 min to enjoy the stunning views over the Villiersdorp valley and beyond to Theewaterskloof dam and the Franschhoek mountains. I will seek to enhance your experience through interpreting signs of animals, birds and points that interest you. You will have time to sit and absorb the beauty. We should see Jackal Buzzard, which breed on this farm, possibly Verreaux’s/Black Eagle, a south-western Cape endemic, which breed on a neighbouring farm and African Black Duck.  After a home-made snack and drink we will descend back to the car and home.

The ground is fairly uneven and as it is mainly up and down hill do wear closed shoes.

Please bring along: hat, sunscreen, water, comfortable walking shoes/running shoes, binoculars and walking stick if needed.

This 2 – 3 hour outing costs R300 per person including transport for four people.

  1. Outspan fynbos walk

This walk begins where the ox wagons used to outspan or unharness after the challenging descent down Franschhoek Pass. It is an easy walk along a firm sandy level track through beautiful lowland fynbos. Near the beginning there are stands of Protea neriifolia and Protea repens typical of firmer-textured granite and shale soils at lower elevations. There are usually tracks of antelope and caracal. The endemic Orange-breasted Sunbird is found here with a variety of Erica species. The Yellow Bishop (Yellowrumped Widow) is also present.

This can be a gentle ramble for those interested in fynbos, but can be a brisk walk reaching the ruins of Rusbos and the shade of an old oak tree for the more energetic. We will have a home-made snack and drink along the way or at the end back at the river. In summer the adventurous can enjoy a quick swim in the Du Toits river pools.

So come and outspan or ontspan in the rustige fynbos of Rusbos.and leave your harnesses behind!!

Please bring along: hat, sunscreen, water, comfortable walking shoes/running shoes, binoculars, anorak/lightweight jacket as weather can change quickly in this mountain area and swimming gear if desired. Walking stick if needed.

It is a 20 min drive from Villiersdorp to the start of the walk, half of which is along the edge of Theewaterskloof dam.

This 3 – 4 hour outing costs R400 per person excluding transport (Minimum 2 people). Transport for up to four people is charged at the rate of R4.00 per km.

Brown tongue Erica or Hangertjie, Erica plukenetii
Brown tongue Erica or Hangertjie; Erica plukenetii
  1. Spring Wildflowers, stone watermill and Stettyn Wines

The historic Stettyn Wine farm lies at the foot of the majestic Stettinberge about 15 km from Villiersdorp. Cape Leopard still roam in these mountains and are monitored by the Cape Leopard Trust. This farm is described as having “a Sense of Place, Timeless and gentle”. The Cape Dutch farmhouse, with stutmure, was built in 1777 by Jan Radyn, from Stettin in former Prussia. It was wonderfully restored by the Botha family who have been on the farm for eight generations. There is also a stone watermill dating back to 1891.

This outing includes a level walk to the bokkekamp with wonderful spring flowers, a visit to the stone watermill, grain silo and original stone entrance to the farm as well as the Stettyn Wine Cellar. If desired you can enjoy a cheese and meat platter for two, which includes wine tasting, for R150.

Please bring along: hat, sunscreen, water, comfortable walking shoes/running shoes, binoculars and walking stick if needed.

This 3 – 4 hour outing costs R400 per person excluding transport and cheese platter. Transport for up to four people is charged at the rate of R4.00 per km.

Witsterretjie Spiloxene capensis
Witsterretjie, Spiloxene capensis
  1. Stettyn farm, fynbos and renosterveld

The historic Stettyn Wine farm lies at the foot of the majestic Stettinberge about 15 km from Villiersdorp. Cape Leopard still roam in these mountains and are monitored by the Cape Leopard Trust. This farm is described as having “a Sense of Place, Timeless and gentle”. The Cape Dutch farmhouse, with “stutmure”, was built in 1777 by Jan Radyn, from Stettin in former Prussia. It was wonderfully restored by the Botha family who have been on the farm for eight generations. There is also a stone watermill dating back to 1891.

This outing includes a visit to the stone watermill, grain silo and original stone entrance to the farm as well as a walk through vineyards, renosterveld and up into fynbos along a 4×4 road. There are beautiful views during this walk and a number of choices for a snack and drink stop. A pair of Verreaux’s Eagles breeds on this farm.

Please bring along: hat, sunscreen, water, comfortable walking shoes/running shoes, binoculars and walking stick if needed.

This 3 – 4 hour outing costs R400 per person excluding transport. Transport for up to four people is charged at the rate of R4.00 per km.

A visit to the wine cellar can be added or included if desired.

  1. Wandering the backroads, birding and soaking up the beauty

This outing is mainly along the gravel backroads through farmlands, renosterveld  and Little Karoo shrubland. We will pass a few farm dams with waterbirds, should hear and hopefully see the threatened Southern Black Korhaan, the Blue Crane, Jackal Buzzard and some Karoo birds.

It can include popping in to the Helderstroom Alpacas and/or Stettyn Wine Cellar and/or Stettyn stone watermill or extending the trip to include the Olyfberg Olive farm.

A healthy snack and hot/cold drink will be enjoyed at a suitable spot along the way.

Please bring along: hat, sunscreen, water, comfortable shoes/running shoes and binoculars.

This outing can take from 2-3 hours to 5-6 hours depending on the number of extra options so will be charged at R120 per person per hour and if transport is provided it will be charged at R4 per km.

  1. Breakfast Rock walk, Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve (2km)

This is a straight forward walk partly along a gravel road through fynbos and then a zig-zag trail with steps takes you up to Breakfast Rock with lovely views. The walk is only a km from the start and then you return along the same route. There is a section of taller fynbos usually with sightings of the endemic Cape Sugarbird, Promerops cafer. The male sugarbird has a long tail and spectacular display.

Mont Rochelle is in the UNESCO Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve which is a World Heritage site. This Nature Reserve is well-known for stunning views and fynbos. The Reserve is a 30 min drive from Villiersdorp.

A healthy snack and hot/cold drink will be enjoyed at Breakfast Rock, with time to absorb the beautiful views.

Please bring along: hat, sunscreen, water, comfortable shoes/running shoes, binoculars, anorak/lightweight jacket as weather can change quickly in this mountain area, and walking stick if needed.

This 2 km walk takes about an hour, but with plant/bird stops and a snack/view stop the outing will take about 2 hours. This outing costs R250 per person including permit, but excluding transport. (Minimum two people) Transport for up to four people is charged at the rate of R4.00 per km.

  1. Uitkyk hike, Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve (6km)

This pleasant hike begins for the first km along the Breakfast Rock trail (see above, no. 6) and then continues another 2 km through a valley and up to an amazing view point. We return along the same trail. The trail rises about 360 m altogether. About 850 m beyond Breakfast Rock the trail crosses a stream with water that is safe to drink. From the trail one looks down on the Perdekloof stream meandering through the valley. The panoramic view from the Uitkyk or Lookout point is over the Wemmershoek valley and dam and wonderful mountains.

Fitness is required on this mountain path with steps, difficulty is rated as moderate on the Mont Rochelle website.

A healthy snack and hot/cold drink will be enjoyed along the way

Please bring along: hat, sunscreen, water, binoculars, anorak/lightweight jacket as weather can change quickly in this mountain area, comfortable shoes/running shoes and walking stick if needed.

This 6 km hike takes 3-4 hours, but with a snack and view stop the outing will take about 5 hours. This outing costs R550 per person including permit, but excluding transport. (Minimum two people) Transport for up to four people is charged at the rate of R4.00 per km.

I look forward to meeting you and sharing the beauty and wonders of nature with you.

Donella Young

MSc (Zoology), HDE, FGASA Nature Guide registered with Department of Tourism

Phone: 028 840 0841

Cell: 0727383268

Email: info@riversongretreats.co.za

Cycling

There are a number of wonderful cycling options in this area. A Mountain Bike (MTB) is best suited to the many gravel roads and tracks through the farm lands and if desired, the single tracks.

It is possible to arrange a route mainly on the level, or to go up to the canal path where there are stunning views over the valley, mountains and Theewaterskloof dam. There are mainly just farm vehicles on the gravel roads, so the routes are safe for children used to riding bicycles as well.

The routes take you through orchards, crops and alongside rivers, farm dams, fynbos and renosterveld. Birds and farm animals will be seen, usually other animal signs and tracks as well.

For the more adventurous and experienced cyclist there are some single tracks on a local farm.

Four or five people is the maximum size group and children should be accompanied by at least one responsible adult.

Most cycles take about two hours, but a family group may request a shorter route or time at a mountain stream mid-way.

Please bring along: your own bike, helmet, water, light wind jacket, sunscreen, comfortable closed shoes.

Rates are R220 per person for a two hour cycle (Minimum 2 people)

I look forward to meeting you and sharing the beauty and wonders of nature with you.

Donella Young

MSc (Zoology), HDE, FGASA Nature Guide registered with Department of Tourism

Phone: 028 840 0841

Cell: 0727383268

Email: info@riversongretreats.co.za