The Real Club

To celebrate Heritage Day this year, CWBR facilitated the first hike to launch the Franschhoek Youth Hiking Club (called The Real Club). They were joined by five ladies from the Fitness Club in Groendal and a number of young people from different areas of Franschhoek.

Climbing the Uitkyk trail, the group explored the fauna and flora along the way. They stopped to enjoy spring water, and asked questions about the flowers and the biodiversity of the mountain. The trail overlooks the Wemmershoek, Theewaters and Berg dams and the area known as the Overberg. At Breakfast Rock, the hikers took in the breath-taking views of Franschhoek and the surrounding towns, and were even able to spot where they lived.

Back at the CWBR Hub, a CWBR member took the party on a tour of the Hub’s food gardens and demonstrated CWBR’s centrifugal toilet project. The group was treated to a ‘hands on’ demonstration of drone flying and how to use a drone for taking still and video photos. Finally, the group enjoyed a braai together - a common way of celebrating Heritage Day.

The Hiking Club is an initiative by one of the elders in the community. It recognises the need to provide activities for young people. In fact, this was the first time any of the youngsters, fitness ladies, and the elders had hiked in the reserve. The Club’s goal is to run on its own. Meanwhile, CWBR has provided logistical support and facilitation service to assist the group in establishing itself. 

Celine Macdonald
'La Source' Painting gains Guinness Recognition

Last weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the local unveiling of La Source, the 20-meter long painting by advocate and artist Charles Frank, done in collaboration with CWBR, to create awareness of biosphere reserves (locally and internationally). The work biosphere’s and their partners do.

The painting has now received recognition by Guinness World Records, officially breaking the record in September 2018 as ‘World’s largest oil painting by a single artist’!

The painting was unveiled at the local winery Haut Espoir in Franschhoek during the Uncorked Festival 14th – 16th September, in 2018. After which it travelled to Europe and featured at the Annual Dutch Art Fair in Amsterdam, and later on displayed in Luxembourg at Athénéé School. The painting was reported on in local and international newspapers reaching audiences locally and worldwide. 

The painting is currently in Europe with very exciting plans for the next part of its journey in 2020!

The Inspiration for the Painting

In all the projects, people, water conservation, and environmental awareness are integral, therefore awareness of the Berg river became a natural choice. It is a link between all the projects within Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve. The Berg river catchment area is also the life blood to all communities, businesses, and agriculture within the area.

The Partners

For the duration of sketching and painting the canvas, Haut Espoir kindly offered the site of the painting to be in their tasting room, giving an opportunity for the public to see the progress as the painting evolved and to engage in the whole project.

Haut Espoir, meaning ‘High Hope’, belonging to the Armstrong family, produce wine in harmony with nature, focused on biodynamic farming practices and water conservation. The majority of the farm dedicated to fynbos restoration and a riverine ecosystem, hosts a beautiful abundance of indigenous plant, animal life, and farming. Haut Espoir is part of the Franschhoek Conservancy.

Dala sponsored the paint. As a company they are constantly improving their formulas to stay on top of science and technology, with nature and conservation in mind. Dala regularly reach out to communities through competitions, award ceremonies, and have an active interest in finding and supporting the talent of young South African artists. Through an ongoing relationship, they provide continued encouragement and sponsor material to these artists. 

Dala, meaning ‘to bring into existence’ in Xhosa and a South Africa slang for ‘doing it your way’.

Celine Macdonald
'Paddlers discover 'sea of plastic' in Cape Town river'

News24 has published an interview with Kevin Winter on the alarming pollution in the rivers of Cape Town. The interview features the Black River, where waterweeds trapped many varieties of waste and clogged a section of the river, creating a cesspit.

Each year, an annual survey of Cape Town’s rivers is done through Peninsula Paddle, an initiative started in 2010 to highlight the state of the rivers between Muizenberg and Woodstock. This year is the worst amount of plastic waste they have ever seen, Winter states.

Water samples, taken by scientists, were also found to contain E.coli bacteria exceeding 1 million colony-forming units (cfu) per 100 ml.

"The health of the city is seen in its waterways and what I mean by that is when you look at rivers like this you can see that our city is really unhealthy…[Winter said he hoped highlighting the deterioration would be a wake-up call, not only to the city, but to residents who discard pollutants into the rivers]" - Kevin Winter, News24

Kevin Winter is an environmental scientist from UCT and water expert at the University’s Future Water Institute.

To watch the video and read further, follow the link:

Celine Macdonald
The Outdoor Classroom

In 2019, CWBR has collaborated with several organizations to focus on upliftment of local young people, research projects to improve conditions for hikers with otherwise limited ability, and environmental education. 174 young people and 34 facilitators have part-taken in the environmental camps in 2019 thus far. This is a summary of those projects.


Nature Camp USIKO

CWBR hosted USIKO for their Nature Camp. The group were taken on an environmental educational hike by CWBR FGASA qualified guides. They also played team building games, went on a treasure hunt and learned how to use a compass. In the evening they built a fire and told stories, played drums and shared experiences.

On the hike along the back of Matopie the group saw a nearly full dam - a very rare experience for all at that time!

Nature and Leadership Camp USIKO

With CWBR, USIKO co-facilitated a camp for young adults at the Biosphere Hub. The focus was on team building, community engagement, and outreach. The purpose was to engage as a group and train for further community outreach in the Northern Cape.

The group arrived on Friday night, reviewed the programme ahead, braaied under the stars, and got to know the main facilitator in the CWBR team.

The second day, as part of their community outreach within the biosphere, CWBR took the group to a previously visited alien clearing site and continued to clear the area of alien vegetation. A fire safety consultant from Hemisphere, spoke about the impact of alien vegetation on the water sources in the catchment area. The alien clearing done by this group prevented the fire in April 2019 from reaching a farm below the cleared area.

Later, after lunch, the group returned to the mountains and visited the Berg River Dam.

On the last day of the camp, CWBR held a gardening workshop. The group practiced team building activities by making a compost heap. They also visited the domestic animals near the Biosphere Hub. One of the boys petted a horse for the very first time! The group found the physical activity challenging and through that learned to communicate and work better as a team. 


Community Outreach at De Hoop Collections

Four guides at De Hoop Collections, with their guide manager, put together a weekend programme for young people from Nuwerus Napier Nasorg. It was part of the launch of a community outreach programme.

Over three days, the group enjoyed nature walks, identifying animals and plants, a trip to the rocky shores, a fynbos walk, dinner by a campfire and riding a Safari Jeep. The youth documented the camp through their own eyes using cameras donated to CWBR by Athénéé Action Humanitaire’s Photography Department. The head-CWBR guide was present to give support to De Hoop for their first youth camp. Read the article ‘De Hoop Outreach Programme’ in Latest News to find out more!


Outreach Camp with Every Nation Kuils River

30 volunteers from around the Western Cape, Johannesburg, Gauteng, and 1 from as far as America spent the weekend at S.O.S Wild, Viliersdorp, to bond, do team building, and get ready for their outreach programme in the Kuils River Community. The purpose of the outreach, to assist young people in realizing their potential and a future for themselves. To use their talents to improve society and make a change within their community.

Upon arrival, everyone was introduced, and the guides explained the purpose and function of a biosphere reserve.

The group was taken on a 5 km walk through mountains, which at that time were sprouting fynbos to the fullest. The group learned about indigenous vegetation and pollination of flowers. A light shower of rain passed by, but it made the hike even more enjoyable.

In the following week, after the camp, the volunteers ran a day and evening programme which reached over 300 young people, from 13 to 18 years old. Primary school children also joined also during the day. The youth will also part-take in an ongoing Life Skills programme once a month for six months.


Sani Pass Hike

Eight individuals from the group were sponsored to take part in a ‘Sani Endurance Challenge’, wherein amputees hike the Sani Pass. This was a unique event, with the aim of making hiking available to disabled persons. It allowed them to enjoy the beautiful outdoors and pristine areas as much as anyone else, without their disability limiting their ability to hike. 

The event enabled participants to bond with their families through the course of the hike, and experience the empowerment, motivation and endurance needed to complete such a hike.

This event also served as a research platform for a medical team who gathered data on endurance problems, pains, and injuries that might occur for an amputee on such a hike.

Weekend Camp South African Educational Project (SAEP) 

Young people who have worked hard and exceeded in the SAEP Project were rewarded with a weekend at S.O.S Wild in Villiersdorp. SAEP facilitated the educational programme. Two CWBR guides and a trainee guide from Stellenbosch, part-took in the programme on Saturday morning and shared lunch with the group afterwards.

The group was split into two. The first went on a hike with one CWBR guide, who through infectious enthusiasm, shared knowledge about plants and animals. Meanwhile, the other group was guided around the campgrounds and learned about the animals and plants present from a second CWBR guide, who has extensive knowledge on medicinal plants. It was a fun-filled weekend of shared laughter, knowledge, and bonding.

Quotes given by SAEP from the participants -

Thank you SAEP and CWBR, for the weekend camp away, we had the greatest time of our lives! " A Titise"

Thank you! it was an amazing experience and an inspiring camp. "T Bless"

I have learned to appreciate nature, learned about new plants I did not know about.I have always heard of Protea but did not know what is was.  "S Vena"

I learned about different kinds of plants and animals and their background.  I also learned a lot about plants and Western Cape fauna and flora, Bevan knew exactly what he was talking about. "S Mateso"

We had the best time of our lives! We got to know each other better! It was the best camp experience we have ever had! "L Nogqala"

Nature Camp USIKO

Nature and Leadership Camp USIKO

Community Outreach at De Hoop Collections

Outreach Camp with Every Nation Kuils River

Sani Pass Hike

Weekend Camp South African Educational Project (SAEP) 

Celine Macdonald
Is this a temporary reprieve?
The Berg River Dam

The Berg River Dam

Because of the recent rainfall, many dams in the Western Cape are filling, and some even overflowing!

In the recent weeks, CWBR staff and volunteers visited Stettynskloof dam, which was then at 102%. This week, the Berg River dam is reported to be at 101.4%!

With this abundance of water, and more to come, many ask how the dams are managed and how the excess water is being stored. One suggested solution is to build more dams in the Cape, however the situation is more complex as dams need to meet people’s needs as well as the needs of the ecological reserve that it lies within.

To find out the complexity of dam management and what needs to be taken into consideration, follow the link below to read an article -

Stettyns Kloof Dam

Stettyns Kloof Dam

Celine Macdonald
WC FGASA Meeting Recap

On the 3rd of August, CWBR facilitated the Bi-annual Western Cape FGASA Meeting. The event took place at Drakenstein Groot Games Club, an old cricket ground based just outside of Franschhoek.

With an abundance of rain in the last few weeks, we were lucky to have a day of sunshine and warm weather!

It was yet another great meeting, with familiar and new faces attending the event. Fantastic speakers who came to share their passion and ignite more curiosity in all of us.  CWBR volunteers made delicious potjie and a special cake for tea, a Jordanian family recipe, which became a favorite amongst the attendees.

Three recently graduated FGASA & Life Skills students shared their experience of the course, how it changed their lives and perspectives. They received their Level 1 FGASA certificates from Michelle Du Plessis, FGASA Managing Director.

The three speakers talks tied together extremely well and ignited curiosity and enthusiasm to go exploring in the Western Cape and learn more about the magical world of fynbos, bees, and rock formations.



Patrick Shone

Through his many years of experience, Patrick shared an excellent understanding of integrated fire management, the importance it holds, the effects of fires on the fynbos biome, alien vegetation, surrounding communities, and tourism.

“We live in a highly fragmented landscape, and the challenge now, is to understand fire and its relationship within the ecosystem in order to best be able to manage it for the long-term survival of all existing plants and animals”.

Not practicing Integrated Fire Management risks the loss of biodiversity, spread of aliens’ invader plant species, and reduction in water quality and volume.

Though the impact of fire has several negative effects on tourism, such as decline in wildlife, biodiversity, safety and aesthetics, it does however present an opportunity for community development and outreach, partnerships, and awareness.

Patrick’s talk pinpointed the intricate hard work and understanding that goes into maintaining the fynbos biome and fire management.


Jenny Cullinan

Jenny has researched wild honeybees and the native solitary bees in their natural environment for the past 5 years. She, with two colleagues, started Ujubee. Based mostly in Cape Point Nature Reserve.  Ujubee and its extension, COMB (Caretakers of Mellifera Bees) endeavor to learn from all species of bees in the wild and what they need to be healthy. Often when one thinks of bees, it is about hives and honey. But this is an agricultural perspective. The true wonderment of bees is their wildness and their interconnectedness to their ecology; their choice of natural nesting sites; their use of plant resins for propolis walls and for their nest hygiene; their interaction with all other creatures and with the richness and variety of the fynbos flora.

Passionate about what she does, her talk was captivating, with unique insight and knowledge of the world of bees.

For further reading, beautiful photo’s, and video’s depicting the world of wild bees, check out their blog:


John Rogers

Having an interest in geology since when he was a young man, John shared his knowledge with the humor and ease of a University lecturer, one of the many professions he has had.

His book, published in 2018, takes the reader on a journey throughout the Western Cape, and describes how the different rock formations, koppies, and mountains, formed.

Using his book as the catalyst for the talk, he took everyone on this adventure, showcasing different areas with rock formations, grave sites, important people in history, and the environment surrounding the areas in question.

He also referenced other books, articles, and debates, so for the experienced geologist as well as the amateur with enthusiasm, there was more to investigate. A selection of rocks was available to see and touch.

For those who are interested to pick up a copy of his book, visit:

To read a review:

Left to right:

Photo 1: There was a lot of buzz about the day’s topics and lecturers over lunch.

Photo 2: Parents of graduate proudly received the certificate in her stead as she is over-landing with Nomad tours, previous graduate received his Cathsseta certificate at the event, and three graduates who received certificates on behalf of the rest of the group.

Photo 3: Pseudoscorpions and bees have a symbiotic relationship. To read the article ‘Swarming Bees and Pseudoscorpions‘ go to

Celine Macdonald