With COVID-19 limiting international travel, it’s time to start looking closer to home at Blaauwberg Nature Reserve writes KAREN WATKINS.

Imagine sitting on a deck above Melkbosstrand sharing some local bubbly and watching the sun go down. And what’s better is that you get to have the whole Blaauwberg Nature Reserve to yourself. This can be the start of a weekend road trip north along the West Coast Way.

Super views from the deck at at Montispectus on Blaauwberg Hill. Photos: Karen Watkins
Super views from the deck at Montispectus on Blaauwberg Hill. Photos: Karen Watkins

Leave work early on Friday and you can soon be staying in a converted World War II building. The City of Cape Town had the foresight to convert it to self-contained accommodation. Now called Montispectus it’s a musket shot away from Cape Town and one of its best kept secrets, until now.

Montispectus hovers above Table Bay on Blaauwberg Hill. The views are stunning, with Table Mountain to the south, Melkbosstrand below and Koeberg nuclear power station to the north.

Next door is a radar station. When in use it foiled an expected Japanese bombing of Cape Town. Also a carefully planned night surprise attack by two U-boats.

Montispectus is named for the recently discovered Bloubergstrand dwarf burrowing skink, Scelotes montispectus. There are said to be only six in the world, three in Blaauwberg Nature Reserve. Montispectus also means ‘to behold the mountain’, and that’s what you can do. Magic!

The silence and remoteness of the place is mesmerising. Broken occasionally by bird calls it’s a far cry from what took place on January 8, 1806. The Battle of Blaauwberg may have been small in the scheme of things but it had a mighty big impact on South African history.

Every year the Friends of Blaauwberg Nature Area celebrate the Battle of Cape Town, as it’s known. According to local historian and tour guide Dave Honour it all began on August 20, 1805. An armada of 63 war ships set sail from England with secret orders to secure the Cape. Arriving on January 4, 1806 over 5000 troops took three days to offload at Losperd’s Bay, today’s Melkbosstrand.

This gave the Dutch time to prepare their defences. British troops advanced towards Kleinberg – near present day Parklands – where 2000 Batavian (Dutch) forces were gathered to defend the strategically placed Cape of Good Hope.

Blaauwberg Nature Reserve has over 560 plant species. Photo: Karen Watkins
Blaauwberg Nature Reserve has over 560 plant species

The open plan accommodation for four is fully equipped; all you need to take is toiletries, towel, food and drinks. The kitchen area has cooking utensils, sink, gas fridge and stove and a Weber braai. The shower and composting toilet are in a separate building nearby.

Blaauwberg Hill is one of few viewpoints in the world from where two proclaimed world heritage sites can be seen – Table Mountain and Robben Island.

Montispectus is popular so book now.

Where: Montispectus Blaauwberg Nature Reserve
Book: 021 554 0957, 021 444 0454 (Eerstesteen Resort), reservations.blaauwberg@capetown.gov.za
Address: Eerste Steen Resort, Otto du Plessis Drive (M14), north of Bloubergstrand (GPS -33.777559 S, 18.449142 E)
Distance from Cape Town: 23.6km
Cape Farms: Just north of Blaauwberg on the R27 or Otto Du Plessis Drive