The Western Cape is known for its sudden weather changes. This summer, when cloudy weather rules out the beach, why not tackle the Twaalfuurkop day hike in Marloth Nature Reserve? By Ghaleed Nortjé and pictures by Henk Venter

I don’t know what I like most; being in mountains or taking pictures of mountains. Everywhere I look while on my mountain walks, I see the most beautiful scenes. Capturing those scenes the way I see them, is a whole different story. Fortunately for me, Henk Venter, a professional photographer, educator and guide, was on hand during my last photo walk.

Henk, originally from Stellenbosch, is now running photographic workshops and guided photo tours in the picturesque area of Swellendam. In Cape Town, I’m used to guiding people around Table Mountain. On this day, however, I had the pleasure of being guided by someone who shares the same passion for nature and photography as I do.




Our destination was Twaalfuurkop, one of several peaks in the Langeberg Mountains that frame Swellendam. The trail starts from the reserve office in Marloth Nature Reserve and it is a challenging hike to the top – but well worth the effort. At 1,450m above sea level, Twaalfuurkop offers splendid views of the entire Langeberg, the Rûensveld, and even the ocean, some 50km away.

The trail is 12km long and should take hikers around six hours to complete. But throw in a few cameras and you could easily add a further three hours to your hike. This was the case for Henk and myself. Fortunately, we couldn’t care less about the time, all we could see were pictures!






Marloth Nature Reserve is tucked away in the mountains between Swellendam, Ashton, Barrydale, and Suurbraak. The mountain slopes boast beautiful fynbos and, as part of the Cape Floral Region’s protected areas, the reserve is officially a World Heritage Site. You’ll also find patches of rare indigenous forest – yellowwood, stinkwood, rooiels, Cape beech and ironwood trees. In fact, the reserve is named after botanist Dr Rudolf Marloth, who lobbied the government to protect the treasure-trove of flora in a nature reserve. In addition to day hikes, Marloth also has mountain bike trails.

Good to know

  • Day walks are open from sunrise to sunset.
  • Hiking permits can be purchased at R40 per adult and R20 per child at the reserve office or through CapeNature Central Reservations.
  • No pets, picking of flowers, collection of seeds, and fishing without permits are allowed.