The Tygerberg Nature Reserve is a hidden gem with a number of birds unlikely to be found easily anywhere this close to the city. It is the largest conserved piece of critically endangered Swartland shale renosterveld and is home to the rare Western Sorrel Copper Butterfly, which flies year-round, peaking in summer
Entering at the main Welgemoed gate, look out for Fiscal Flycatcher and Karoo Scrub Robin in the car park as well as for the Jackal Buzzard that hangs around the tall trees near the entrance. Take the Tortoise trail to the right just after the gate and look out for Cape Grassbird. Turn right down the hill onto the Duiker trail. The trail will take you through 2 culverts to a vlei, where Little Rush and Lesser Swamp Warbler can be seen in winter with the addition of the African Reed Warbler in summer. Purple Heron and African Black Duck can be seen there occasionally along with the regular water fowl and weavers. Along the trail look out for Bar-throated Apalis, Long-billed Crombec, all three species of Mousebird, Acacia Pied Barbet and the Lesser Honeyguide (who parasitises Barbet nests). Common Waxbill abound. Look out for breeding African Paradise-flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher and Cape Batis in the small patch of forest after the culvert. Brown-backed Honeybird is also seen occasionally.
When re-joining the Tortoise trail, either return to the entrance and walk the short distance up the tar road to the top of the hill, or turn right and then head up the Caracal trail to the top of the second hill. This is not a difficult climb. There is an old canon on top of the 2nd hill and the Southern Fiscal are very tame and come right up to the benches – a good spot from which to marvel at the panoramic views. It is worth checking the various communication towers carefully for raptors. Birds around the wheelchair trail may include Layard’s Tit-Babbler, Long-billed Crombec, Peregrine Falcon, Rock Kestrel, Karoo Scrub Robin, Bokmakierie and Black Sparrowhawk.
There is a small pan on the Induli trail – worth a detour in the Summer, and another on the Grey Rhebok trail, but the latter trail is on reclaimed farmland with a dearth of birds. Grey-backed Cisticola is vocal here.
If following the Ukhetshe trail, the shortcut to the 2nd hill (Striped Weasel trail) is a tough climb and taking the longer route to the picnic site and wheelchair trail is recommended. There are tables and eco toilets at the picnic site.
Tygerberg Nature Reserve Telephone number: 021 444-8971
Address: Totius Steet, Welgemoed (Main Gate)
Myboom Steet, Panorama (Alternative entrance but not always open. See note below)
Opening hours 7.30am – 6pm weekdays. 7.30am – 7pm weekends
A small entrance fee applies. (R16 adults. Children and Pensioners R9. Prices applicable in July 2018)
Wild cards and Botsoc cards are not valid. An annual card for the reserve can be bought from The Friends of Tygerberg Hills
There are toilets at the main entrance and on top of the hill at the picnic site.
There are two entrances, NOTE the Plattekloof gate near Panorama Hospital (Myboom St) is now permanently closed from 1 November 2018. The ascent from the Plattekloof gate is quite a slog but there is a different suite of birds on that side of the mountain.
The main entrance is in Totius Street, Welgemoed. From the N1 take Jip de Jager and crest the steep hill. At the traffic light turn left into Kommissaris St and follow the signs.
It is worth noting that many of the trails can be quite slippery, especially in winter. We turned back after attempting the Golden Mole Trail in July as it was like a skating rink, heavy hiking boots notwithstanding.