The Jonkershoek area, which includes the adjacent and smaller Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve, serves as a mountain catchment area, whose crystal torrents flow from the Boland Mountains to provide water for the town of Stellenbosch and its environs.
In Assegaaibosch, visitors will find an old farmstead, built in 1790, which is now a national monument and a rather swish self-catering guesthouse. Also within Assegaaibosch is what was once a colonial trout hatchery (now used by the University of Stellenbosch for research purposes), an interesting fresh-water aquarium, a wildflower garden that hosts a variety of fynbos species, and a picnic area with braai (barbeque) and ablution facilities.
From the Jonkershoek entrance gate, a circular dirt road of about 10km bumps and winds around the valley edges. Apart from a pleasant drive, this is a great way to get your bearings, before attempting anything more strenuous. All along the road are signs marking recognised trails that run off into the heights, as well as trails that run down to the Eerste River, where the less adventurous can relax and picnic.
For the energetic and adventurous, Jonkershoek offers a variety of activities. Maps and permits are available from the reception. Jonkershoek offers four hiking trails ranging from about 5km to tough 18km trails and Assegaaibosch has two gentle walks. Mountain biking is also a popular pastime in the reserve, which has a number of trails to choose from – some suitable for the whole family and others suitable for adrenalin junkies. The fishing facilities available in Jonkershoek cater for the novice as well as the experienced fly-fisherman. Private tutoring can be arranged for those wanting to fish in the nine still-water dams at the conservation office complex, while others may wish to set up their fold-out chair on the bank of the Kleinplaas Dam in the middle of Jonkershoek. An entry fee paid at the gate allows access to the dam, but a recreational freshwater angling licence is also required.
Jonkershoek and Assegaaibosch can quite easily be visited as a same-day trip from Cape Town. To get the best out of both reserves, overnight in Stellenbosch or in the historical and stately, self-catering Assegaaibosch homestead. Remember to take along warm clothes and rain gear as conditions can deteriorate rapidly, but never forget to take along a swimming costume as well!