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. This past weekend the Western Cape experienced its first snowfall of the year. The mountain peaks are capped with snow and its time to start planning those snow adventures! My favourite snow advnetures would be making a mission to Matroosberg to see the snow (this requires a 4×4 in most cases and is a bit of a trek) or hiking in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve to see the snow in the mountains. This blog will focus on how to plan your Matroosberg trip to see the snow, but you can find all the details on how to hike to the snow in Mont Rochelle in this blog post.
Cape Town also has many other fun things to offer during winter time, you could do one of the many gorgeous hikes in Cape Town or plan a trip to one of the many waterfalls in Cape Town. Read my blog on what to do in winter in Cape Town here.
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 previously 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 R80 per person, R60 children 3-13 and then R250 per vehicle going up the 4×4 trail. For all the details on acquiring the 4×4 permit read this post.
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. Watching the weather on Snow Report is also a very reliable source.
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.