Simson-Simons Nature Reserve
The Paardeberg is a natural paradise, which we feel passionate about protecting and conserving. To this end, the farm not only forms part of the Paardeberg Conservancy, an initiative set up by some landowners in the area, but in 2013 we became a Contract Nature reserve under the auspices of Cape Nature.
The Simson- Simons Nature Reserve is named after the two brothers: Denis and Gerry Simson (father and uncle to Diana) and Johan’ parents. Jack and Ray (Alexander) Simons.
As part of our conservation commitment, there are a number of ongoing conservation projects on the farm. These include the clearing of alien vegetation, the laying of walking and climbing trails, and bird and plant spotting for our bird and plant lists. A long-term project is the returning of indigenous game to the mountain. The farm is also frequently used for research projects on insects, and plants.
People who wish to participate in any of the farm’s conservation projects are more than welcome, and while doing so can, if they wish, stay without charge in our small wooden hut. Students wanting to use the farm for appropriate projects are more than welcome.
Fynbos Estate nestles between Dragonridge and Sonkop Peak, both of which form part of the Paardeberg Mountain. The Paardeberg is a granite mountain with an extraordinary mix of unique vegetation, which is a botanist’s heaven. The plants on the mountain include Strandveld (‘coastal plants’), Cape Mountain fynbos (‘fine bush’, which is found only in the Western Cape), and renosterveld (‘rhinoceros bush’, whose dark appearance gives the region its name, Swartland or ‘black land’).
Dragonridge is readily accessible by high-clearance vehicles, mountain bikes, or on foot. Should you prefer your hiking a little rougher, you can take the more direct, scrambling route from the house to the top of Dragonridge, or you can climb the beautiful – and wilder – Sonkop. Along the top of both mountains there is easy walking, with spectacular views of the Winterberge, the Franschhoek Mountains and Table Mountain. Shorter walks will take you to any number of lovely spots such as ‘Cathedral Rocks’ and ‘The Big Cactus’, on the slopes of Dragonridge.
Wherever you are on the mountain, you are likely to see eagles soaring and many other varieties of birds and small game. During much of the year various types of wild protea will be in flower, as will other types of fynbos, with an extraordinary variety of exquisite, often delicate, flowers. Nature lovers may be lucky enough to see buck, dassie, mongoose and suricate, or you may come upon large leopard tortoises, colourful lizards or prickly porcupines.
Click and drag your mouse pointer on this amazing 360º photo, to enjoy the spectacular view from the top of Dragonridge.