Last Sunday Thorsten and I went hiking in the Kloofendal Nature Reserve, which is in Roodepoort on Johannesburg’s West Rand. I last hiked in Kloofendal nearly 11 years ago; I know I enjoyed it because I wrote a blog post back then, too. But Kloofendal is even more delightful than I remembered. I also realized this time that Kloofendal has the most spectacular collection of proteas I’ve seen in Joburg.
About the Kloofendal Nature Reserve
Before I go on about the proteas, here’s some general information on the nature reserve. Kloofendal is part of the Joburg City Parks system. But similar to the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve and the Melville Koppies, Kloofendal also has a committed group of volunteers — the Friends of Kloofendal, or FrOK — who do an amazing job helping to manage and promote the reserve. I highly recommend the FrOK website, which is chock full of interesting information about Kloofendal and its schedule of events (there are many).
Kloofendal is about 25 minutes from central Joburg (it took us 20 minutes to get there from Brixton) and sits in a quiet, residential neighborhood. The reserve is 128 hectares: quite a bit smaller than Klipriviersberg, the largest nature reserve in Joburg, but still big enough to spend a couple of hours walking or trail-running. We spent a leisurely morning there and hiked about seven kilometers, with a lot of uphills and downhills. There are several trails (the best trail map is online), but we didn’t specifically follow any of them and we never got lost, as none of the trails are very long. I think we hiked most of the yellow trail, the red trail, and the black trail.
The reserve was virtually empty when we arrived at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. (Kloofendal is open every day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) While we encountered a few more walkers later in the morning, it never got really crowded.
There is game in Kloofendal — we glimpsed a couple of small buck, possibly duiker, and several dassies — and dogs aren’t allowed. Neither is alcohol, and the security guards check the boot of your car upon entry so I recommend following this rule. Admission to the park is free and there is a large amphitheater near the entrance with braai spots.
Fun fact: Kloofendal stands on one of the oldest gold-mining sites in Gauteng. There is a 19th-century stamp mill in the park, commemorating this important piece of history.
Now, back to the proteas. Proteas grow mostly in South Africa’s fynbos region in the Western Cape. If you live in or around Joburg then you probably know we have some proteas growing here, too. I’ve seen them in the Melville Koppies and the Suikerbosrand.
But I’ve never seen quite so many proteas in one place, in full bloom and on such large plants, as I did at Kloofendal last weekend.
Note: We spotted this magical grove of proteas on the eastern side of the park, on either the black trail or the yellow trail or maybe part of both. Sorry, I’m bad at directions and the Kloodendal trails are a bit of a maze. But we definitely started out following the black marker, which turns off to the left near the trail head. If you want to find the proteas, I recommend doing that.
That was our morning in Kloofendal. We loved it and we’ll be back, especially because we also discovered one of my favorite Middle Eastern restaurants has moved to a shopping center very close to Kloofendal. Eager to know which restaurant it is? You’ll have to wait for my next post.
The Kloodendal Nature Reserve is at 38 Zircon Street, Roodepoort.
Great article. I had clean forgot about Kloofendal. Haven’t been there in years. Time for a visit again. Love the photo of the wild dagga (Leonitas Leonorus). The botanical name has something to do with a lion.
Thanks. I had forgotten about it too! Going to Klipriviersberg earlier this year reminded me that I need to start revisiting all these far-flung Joburg nature reserves.
Looks like a lovely place to hike. I love proteas so much. It is so extraordinary to see them growing wild. They cost a fortune to buy in the USA. Here are 5 stems for $85US! https://the-protea-store.myshopify.com/collections/gift-boxes/products/king-gift-box-5-stems
Oh my goodness, that’s insane! It makes me want to jump in my car and go buy an R50 protea right this second 🙂
So are proteas succulents? They look like some of the flowers my one succulent produces.
And that looked like a lovely hike.
No, I don’t think so. But they do thrive without a lot of water. Maybe related somehow?
Apologies for the late reply but my laptop was in ICU the past two days … WRT to the “protea about to open”. That one looks to me like Protea caffra and not cynaroides (the king). P caffra grows into a medium size tree and is – or used to be – common on the Highveld. In fact it occurs from there to the Ethiopian highlands via all the mountain “stepping stones”. The Cape fynbos is an Afro-montane vegetation type, and originates from the East African mountains (db, aka fynbos nerd).
PS – re the succulent thing. Fynbos is a Mediterranean veg type, adapted to long, hot, dry summers with dry winds, so is one step away from being succulents. The name “fynbos” refers to the small, hard, often spiky leaves of most of the plants of the region that reduce water loss. Plant nerds call this veg “sclerophyllous Med shrublands” 🙂
Thanks David, yes, I was actually directed yesterday by the brilliant Wendy Carstens of Friends of the Melville Koppies, who let me know these are not king proteas at all but protea caffra and one other type. I’ve corrected the post accordingly. Oops! Anyway they’re all beautiful. I hope you’re laptop is healthy again!