Winter has really rolled around properly in Cape Town these past few days. We’ve been hiding indoors, reading books and watching movies around warm fires, while the rain pours down hard and thunder and lightning roll around. Today the sun may be shining, but stepping outside you can really feel the chill in the air. I think its safe to say that winter is here. While I’m definitely more of a summer lover, enjoying frolicking in the ocean waves and lying in the sun on the beach, winter definitely has its charms too. There’s nothing quite like curling up under a warm blanket reading a good book, watching your favourite series or playing family board games by the fire. Cape Town also has many fun things to offer during winter time, from lots of lovely waterfall hikes to killer winter specials at restaurants (more on this later, I’ll be putting together a guide on fun things to do in Cape Town this winter). However, my favourite winter experience in Cape Town was last year when I got together a group of friends and we drove up to the Matroosberg to see the snow.
The Matroosbeerg is a private nature reserve in the mountains near Ceres. It is well known for its annual snow fall, as a perfect day trip out with the family. The nature of your trip to Matroosberg is entirely dependent on the level of snow fall at the time of your trip. When we went last year the amount of snow was so great that there was ground level snow. This meant that before even reaching the reserve gate there was plenty of snow on the ground for us to play in. When there is less snow you may have to enter the nature reserve to see it and when there is even less snow you may need to enter the reserve and do the 4×4 trail up the mountain to reach the snow. This is why the timing of your trip is very important. There is a Facebook group called ‘Matroosberg Reserve‘ that keeps you updated on the snow forecast and snowfall amounts. They update regularly and following this group for a forecast is the most accurate way to go. So without further adieu, all the juicy details.
The Matroosberg Nature reserve is located just outside the town of Ceres. The drive there is about 180km and should take you 2 hours and 20 mins from Cape Town. If the snow is ground level you may start seeing blankets of white as close as Klondyke cherry farm, but if there isn’t too much snow you will need to go into the reserve and probably follow the 4×4 trail up to the mountain. The trail is not for the faint-hearted and requires quite a bit of 4×4 experience and know-how. There is an extensive list of rules and regulations for this 4×4 trail and there is a permit required for each car going up.
Monday to Thursday: 8:00–17:00
Saturday to Sunday: 8:00–16:00
If the snow is on ground level then you shouldn’t be paying for anything more than your petrol to get up there. Entering the nature reserve will cost you R55 per person, R35 children 3-13 and then R250 per vehicle going up the 4×4 trail.
Timing is the most crucial thing with planning your trip to the snow. The winter months are June, July and August. Last year we had the biggest snowfall at the end of August and experienced loads of beautiful ground level snow. My advice is keep a look out on the Matroosberg Reserve Facebook group throughout those months and be ready to head off on your adventure within a few days’ notice. The weather is completely unpredictable and you never know when next it’ll snow.
What to pack
You’re ideally going to be out for the whole day. I’d advice leaving nice and early in the morning so that you can get there before the snow melts too much. And then plan to be there for the better part of the day before coming home towards late afternoon. You’ll want to pack some lunch and road trip snacks as there aren’t really any restaurants around if you were planning on going out for lunch. We brought along some gluwein (for the non-drivers) and maybe some hot chocolate, tea or coffee to warm up after being out in the snow. Be sure to pack in an extra scarf, buttons and a carrot for your snowman creation. We also brought along a boogie board to slide down the slopes on (SO MUCH FUN!). And finally be sure to dress super duper warmly! Also as South Africans we obviously don’t have much experience with snow so a little FYI: snow is wet. So if you’re planning on rolling around making snow angels then be sure to wear a jacket that is a bit waterproof.
hot chocolate/tea/coffee in flasks
scarf, buttons, carrot for you snow man
boogie board for sledding
dress warmly: scarf, beanie, gloves, coat
What to do
Build a snow man, have a snowball fight, make snow angels and stick your tongue out to taste the snow flakes.
We went towards the end of the winter season and so were also blessed with some spring flower delights on our drive up. We saw many beautiful fields of yellow canola flowers and orchards of beautiful pink and white fruit tree blossoms.