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STELLENBOSCH and its surroundings are perfect for keeping one’s new year’s resolutions and hopes alive. Whether it is to be more active, get more fresh air or to see some Instagram-worthy views, the Stellenbosch hiking routes will keep a person on top of their hiking game! 

The best route for dog lovers: Pipe Track

The Pipe Track, which is situated in Cape Town, is the perfect route to enjoy if you have a dog or if you want to ease yourself into the new life of hiking. It is a relatively easy and flat route that is enjoyed by the young and old alike. The route is at the back of Table Mountain towards Camps Bay and has amazing views of the sea and Lion’s Head. 

The best hike with friends: Jonkershoek Nature Reserve 

Although there are numerous hikes in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, I recommend doing the hikes to the first and second waterfalls, which are both on the same route. It is the perfect day hike to do with friends, since it is close to campus and there is so much to do. Hikers are constantly able to stop for a swim and some snacks, and may also come across some of the many little passages leading to new waterfalls and caves. 

 EXPLORING a cave in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. Photo: Ané Havenga. 

The best value route: Coetzenburg Mountain

Coetzenburg Mountain is the route with the best value because it is close to campus and does not call for a long hike to get to its top, which has the most astonishing views. The route starts next to the Maties gym, and the end destination is known as the Tweede Kruis (the “Second Cross”). The view includes an awesome aerial view of Stellenbosch. 

The best swimming spot and waterfall: Krom River Trail 

Situated 30 minutes outside Stellenbosch, this gem is can leave one breathless. It is quite a long hike, so start early—especially in summer months—and be aware of baboons along the way. The hike runs along the river for the whole route, making it perfect for taking quick dips along the way and for refilling water bottles. The route ends at a beautiful waterfall, but hikers can reach a second and even better waterfall via a chain ladder—words cannot describe its beauty. 

The best view: Paarl Rock

I have always referred to this hike as my “moon landing”, as one walks over boulders with craters in them, and I always convince myself that that is what the moon must look like. A big advantage of this hike is that one can drive to the top and then take a mere 15-minute hike up to these boulders, which are massive! Hikers get a 360° view including Wellington,Stellenbosch, Paarl and Cape Town. 

The best hike with a scenic drive: Harold Porter Botanical Garden

This trail in Betty’s Bay, which can be reached by driving along the coast on Sir Lowry’s Pass. This botanical garden is ideal for picnics but also has three hiking routes to choose from. I enjoy the Leopard’s Kloof Trail, which ends with the most serene waterfall (unfortunately no swimming is allowed, though). 

CHASING WATERFALLS One of many waterfalls at Harold Porter Botanical Garden. Photo: Ané Havenga

The best hike with ­variation: ­Paradyskloof Forest

The most popular route to take is the one leading to the waterfall, which is marked clearly at the entrance to Paradyskloof Forest. This is a relatively short hike, but one walks through a forest and then hikes up a mountain where there’s a small waterfall and a great view of Table Mountain in the distance.

The best hike for a weekend: Greyton McGregor Hiking Trail

This hectic trail is also known as the Boesmanskloof Hiking Trail.It takes a few hours and ascends pretty much the entire time with no shade; however, the hike provides breathtaking views, as well as the best waterfall and swimming spot five kilometres from the end. Another big treat is the cottages, which can accommodate up to 30 people, and the braai area. There, hikers can stay overnight in one of the wonderful rooms and have their pre-booked groceries waiting for them when they arrive.

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