New Hiking Trail between Stanford and Tesselaarsdal

COVID-19: Due to the countrywide lockdown the Haarkapper Hiking Trail is closed. It will not be possible to buy permits during the lockdown, either for now or for future dates. We hope to see you back once this is over. Until then, please keep safe and observe the rules for everyone’s safety.

We are excited to announce the launch of the Haarkapper Hiking Trail. This beautiful hike crosses over the Klein River Mountains, between Phillipskop Mountain Reserve near Stanford, and Tesselaarsdal, via Elzaksa Farm. The 15km trail follows a figure of eight route, starting from either Phillipskop Mountain Reserve or Tesselaarsdal. You can also hike just one way over the mountain, if you arrange transport on the other side.

Hiking the Haarkapper Hiking Trail along ridge of Klein River Mountains
View along Klein River Mountains on the Haarkapper Hiking Trail

The unusual name for the hiking trail comes from the route which echoes the weekly journey of the famous Tesselaarsdal barber. Jannie Willemse was a farmer from Tesselaarsdal who used to walk 20km over the Klein River Mountains to Stanford every Saturday, to cut the townsfolk’s hair, before returning to his Tesselaarsdal farm the same day. Beginning in 1926, he did this each and every Saturday for over 20 years without fail, faithfully serving his Stanford customers, and clocking up over 42,000km on foot – more than the distance all the way around the earth! The Haarkapper Hiking Trail offers you the chance to follow in the footsteps of the renowned Tesselaarsdal barber, crossing the Klein River Mountains at their lowest point between Tesselaarsdal and Stanford. The highest point on the hike is at an altitude of 575m and is named Haarkapper Peak in honour of the Tesselaarsdal barber.

View along Klein River Mountains from Haarkapper Peak
View from the summit of Haarkapper Peak

The Haarkapper Hiking Trail is a straightforward but still challenging route for anyone with reasonable fitness. There is an initial steep climb up from the reception at Phillipskop but after that the path takes a more gradual ascent towards the ridge before descending via Elzaksa Farm. A detour from the main figure of eight part of the hike will take you into the historic village of Tesselaarsdal, where you can enjoy a delicious lunch at De Postkantoor. The return climb from Tesselaarsdal follows the same route up the mountain as the 2017 Cape Epic bike ride. The scenery changes throughout the trail, from lush fynbos covered slopes on the southern side, to dry rocky outcrops on the north. There is a hidden valley at the back of Phillipskop and unusual rock formations all along the way, such as the impressive David and Goliath Rock Stacks. The climb over the ridge is worth it for the views both north and south. On a clear day, the vista stretches from Sir Lowry’s Pass across to the Langeberg above Swellendam.

View of Phillipskop and Hidden Valley from the ridge of the Klein River Mountains
Phillipskop and Hidden Valley

The fynbos here is particularly beautiful. Over 700 species of plant have been recorded on the reserve at Phillipskop. At any time of the year there are lots of flowers to see. Winter brings the proteas, spring the bulbs and numerous pincushions on Elzaksa Farm, while in summer and autumn the ericas dominate the landscape. There is also plenty of bird and animal life. The sugarbirds and sunbirds love the fynbos flowers, plus you have a good chance of seeing Black Eagle or Klipspringer on the rocky slopes of Phillipskop. Leopard are also known to roam the mountains, so keep an eye out for tell-tale signs.

Looking down on Tesselaarsdal across Leucospermum cordifolium
Looking down on Tesselaarsdal over the Pincushion Proteas

More information about the hiking trail, including maps and permits can be found at Permits for hiking need to be purchased in advance at They are available online for day visitors at R70 an adult, R50 a child under 18. The trail is open daily between 8am and 5pm. Phillipskop Mountain Reserve also offers self-catering accommodation and is open for day visitors who want to do shorter hikes for a conservation fee of R40 an adult, R20 a child:

Cape Sugarbird on Leucospermum cordifolium
Sugarbirds love the Pincushion Proteas on Elzaksa Farm

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