Silvermine, part of the Table Mountain National Park, is within easy reach of Cape Town residents and seems to be a regular haven for walkers, swimmers and people of all ages wanting an outing in pleasant surroundings.
While there are several much longer walks in the area, we chose the 1.6Km walk around the dam with plenty of places in the rocks where one can stop to admire the view or enjoy a picnic.
Baboons can be a problem and there are clear signs warning visitors about their presence and what to do when approached by them. While I was there a baboon made off with the cooler bag of a young mother who had been enjoying a picnic with her three-year-old son. Three rangers happened upon the scene and chased after the baboon, which made its way around the dam. When cornered on the bridge, it simply hopped over the side! Two of the rangers, however, remained in the area to keep an eye on the situation and warned new arrivals of the pesence of baboons. The influx of walkers and swimmers did not diminish. After all, baboons are part of the natural environment we had come to enjoy.
I understand the area was ravaged by fire about a year ago. That, together with a prolonged period of unusually hot and dry weather, may account for the paucity of bird life compared with my previous visit a few years ago. Although I heard both a Jackal Buzzard and an African Fish Eagle, I only saw Red-winged Starlings, Cape White-eyes and Red-eyed Doves.
Some flowers made a brave show against the dry and, in places, still blackened veld. Watsonias and Belladonna lilies looked particularly beautiful. Agapanthus bloomed in the damper areas, especially next to the dam. Proteas – I seem to remember that a lot of them will be King Proteas – are budding too.
Then there is a carpet of water lilies one can admire from a low wooden bridge. Not only were they alive with red and blue dragon flies darting about, but a frog was appropriately sunning itself on a lily pad.
Plenty of bumble bees were about too, especially around the blossoms of the Keurboom.