Stellenbosch Municipality and the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve in association with Absa, today celebrated the 195th birthday of the oldest wagon trail, situated at the foothills of the Franschhoek mountain. To mark this special occasion, a new signpost was unveiled at the starting point of the “Cats se Pad” hiking trail.
Centuries ago, elephants roamed this area, creating natural trails over the Franschhoek mountains to nurture their elephant calves in the Franschhoek Valley. In 1818, Samuel Johannes Cats used the footprints of the elephants to construct a 10,5km long mountain pass and toll road joining Cape Town and the fertile Overberg region. The mountain pass was dangerously steep for ox wagons and horse carts and in 1825 “Cats se Pad” was replaced by the Holloway pass and it remained in service for 108 years before the Franschhoek pass was built.
The yellow-wood tree was kindly donated by Stellenbosch Municipality as part of the Million Trees Campaign, aimed at greening the communities within the municipal boundaries and restoring ecosystems. The Million Trees Project is a proud partnership agreement between Stellenbosch Municipality, Wildlands Conservation Trust and Leaf-a-Legacy, which was signed in September last year.
Absa sponsored the new sign-post and ceremony celebrating the 195th birthday of the wagon trail, now a hiking trail in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve.
“Absa is proud to collaborate with Stellenbosch Municipality and the Advisory Board of the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve. The planting of the yellow-wood tree and creating awareness around the tourism potential of the oldest wagon trail as a hiking route before the holiday season, is part of our focus on citizenship. We view it as an investment to care for our environment, to support efforts to slow down climate change and to join our business partners to improve the prosperity of our communities”, says Willie Zastron, Provincial Head Business Banking.
“Cats se Pad” Hiking Trail starts at the upper end of Reservoir street in Franschhoek. The trail is a wonderful introduction to the world renowned Cape fynbos flora and offers panoramic views over the Franschhoek valley. The full trail stretches over 7km (one way) until it reaches the historic JanJoubertsgat bridge in the Franschhoek pass. The first 3 kilometres from the town up the pass is very popular. Access permits can be bought at several places in town. There is also a very good map and description of the nature reserve available. The website is www.montrochellehiking.co.za.