It’s spring in the Cape and Santie decided that she wanted to hunt a wild population of blushing brides (Serruria florida) in Assegaaiboschkloof, the valley in which the Berg River rises before it drains into the Berg River Dam. So Santie, Magdel and I set off with a slight threat of rain in the air. I suspected that my role had less to do with my knowledge of indigenous flora than with providing physical security – for what it’s worth – in what is a fairly remote mountain valley.
After 10.5 km and a couple of detours, partially caused by recent rock slides after the summer fires and welcome rains, we walked into a flowering community of blushing brides on the southern slopes. Now I know what they look like too. According to SANBI’s website an alternate name for this member of the Proteaceae family is “pride of Franschhoek”. Listed as “critically endangered”, it is threatened by alien invasives of which we saw plenty of species making a comeback in the valley. The plant is known to occur naturally “on the Franschhoek side of the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. It grows on mountain slopes in soils derived from granite, which is found below the sandstone soils typical of the Table Mountain Group”, exactly where we found them, it seems.
A satisfying hike of 22 km was rounded off with a cold beer at a Franschhoek artisanal brewery. Mission accomplished.
Some logistics: either buy a permit at the Information office in Franschhoek, or pay the guard at the gate to the dam area. Although the dam is managed by Water Affairs (I assume), the kloof is part of the Jonkershoek and Hottentot Holland Nature Reserves, so an appropriate Wild Card should give you free entrance, but there is no way of using it at the Franschhoek end. If you entered at Jonkershoek the Wild Card would work, but realise that you would have to walk over Bergriviersnek and descend into the kloof. The distances are similar, however.