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Silvermine Nature Reserve | Hiking, Swimming & Climbing on the Cape Peninsula

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Silvermine is one of the most beautiful places to spend a day. I’ve been visiting the Nature Reserve since I can remember, and have always been blown away by this perfect slice of the Cape Peninsula nature perched above the cityscape.

While the most common thing to do at Silvermine is to have a braai or a picnic and a swim at the dam, the reserve also has brilliant hiking trails and top-rope climbs. It’s a part of the greater Table Mountain Reserve, and is home to a fair portion of the mountain range’s endemic fynbos plant life! So, whether you’re a Capetonian or a visitor, it’s a fantastic spot to visit.

If you’re looking to explore Cape Town’s natural wonders, check out this post on the Cape Point Nature Reserve!

Entrance fee (conservation tariff)

The entrance fee to Silvermine is a conservation tariff that goes towards improving and maintaining a healthy ecosystem and easy, undamaging visitor access to the reserve. It’s vital, so while it can be pricey for a family of five and gets a bit steep for tourists, at least it’s going towards a very good cause!

South African citizens & residents: Adults R35 | Children 2 – 11 years R15 

SADC nationals: Adults R70 | Children 2 – 11 years R35 

Standard conservation fee: Adults R140 | Children 2 – 11 years R70 

Silvermine hiking trails

There are a number of unmarked trails crisscrossing Silvermine — both hiking trails and some of the best mountain biking routes in Cape Town. The two below are the only well-marked, official trails in the reserve, making them safer. They’re also fantastically beautiful, and dog-friendly!

Elephant’s Eye Cave

The most popular route at Silvermine, this trail will take you to a massive cave overlooking the bay. The cave is located in a mountain that looks much like an elephant’s head – hence the name! It’s a really beautiful – and photogenic – destination, and the trail is well-marked. It’ll take you about three hours to hike both ways, but be sure to give yourself some extra time to take it all in.

This hike has a minimal incline, making it an easy option even for kids. You’ll be hiking through indigenous fynbos, so be sure to pack your camera – along with sunblock and a hat, as there’s not too much shade on the route!

Noordhoek Peak Circuit

Another phenomenal hike and one that certainly rivals the trail above is the Noordhoek Peak Circuit. This looping trail will give you panoramic views of Muizenberg, Scarborough, Noordhoek, and Hout Bay. Basically, the whole Cape Peninsula! It’s got a bit more incline, but it’s well worth the challenge. And after all, you’ll be ending your hike right at the dam, so a happy swim will wipe away all the tiredness.

Climbing in Silvermine

Silvermine has some of the best climbing in Cape Town! The cliff faces provide over eighty different routes in a wide range of grades, from a beginner’s 13 to a super challenging 28. There are routes that require incredible strength, with overhangs and a daunting gradient. But there are also routes that slope gently so that you can bring friends who have never climbed before to try their hand at this fantastic adventure sport.

The other amazing thing about climbing at Silvermine is the view. The cliff faces are right at the edge of the reserve so that when you send your climb, you’ll be pausing to overlook this entire side of Cape Town and the far-stretching ocean beyond it. It’s really beautiful! Just be aware that when the wind blows, you’ll be right in its path, so it can be a pretty windswept experience.

If you’re planning to climb at Silvermine, I’d recommend you go with a friend who’s done it before, or add a Silvermine climbing guide to your gear!

Silvermine dam

The dam is Silvermine’s most popular attraction – particularly in summer! It’s a wonderful place to swim, with braai facilities and cosy tree-shaded spots dotted all around it. Bring friends and children and make an afternoon of it! You can also bring your pup to the left side of the dam (that’s the opposite side to the braai area), and they can join you for a swim.

You’ll find that the water here – like the dams on Table Mountain – is a rich, deep red. That’s because the water is dyed by the fynbos at the water’s edge and along the river route. They give it an almost bloody colour you’ll have to see for yourself!

Silvermine Dam started its life as Hansen Reservoir and was used since 1900 as a source of water for Kalk Bay. But the city’s water systems have changed a lot since then, and in 2000, people and doggos were finally allowed to swim here! A much enjoyed and appreciated shift.

A wonderful day at Silvermine

Küra and a friend, Tana, at the left bank of Silvermine Dam

Now that you have all the information you’ll need on Silvermine Nature Reserve, all that’s left to do is go and have a wonderful day here! We were at the reserve just yesterday, on one of the hottest days I’ve experienced (second only to the day before). It was the PERFECT place to be, and we could just keep hopping into the water. There were dozens of other groups all enjoying it too, and everyone was having the loveliest time. It’s also my favourite place to climb outdoors. I couldn’t recommend it more!

Have you been to Silvermine? Let me know if I missed anything out, I’d be so keen to discover a new activity at this old favourite.

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