The Jonkershoek Valley is without a doubt one of the most beautiful mountain scenes in the Western Cape, and a popular trail running destination. Massive turrets and cliffs of orange-faced quartzite hold fortress over a collection of rambling mountain streams and waterfalls.

With the kind permission of Cape Nature, we have been given access to the wilderness area hiking trails, and together with the MTO tracks and mountain bike trails, the Wildrunner team have strung together what is arguably one of the most incredible mountain trail running challenges on the calendar. This year, the Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge takes place on 19 May. But, as with any great trail event, it is never just about the running.

Location, location, location…

Sprawling mountains and lush fynbos dominate the landscape in the Jonkershoek reserve.

Home to the majestic Jonkershoek Mountains and parts of the Jonkershoek valley. The reserve, which includes the smaller Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve, lies near the town of Stellenbosch in the south-western Cape.

The Eerste, Berg, Lourens and Riviersonderend rivers all start high in these mountains, although only the Eerste River actually flows through the Jonkershoek valley. The area is also rich in animal and plant life, boasting over 1 100 plant species and a variety of small mammals, birds and reptiles. Natural pristine diversity at its best, and a wonderful place to find fynbos endemics. Depending on the time of year, snake enthusiasts are likely to spot a Hikers should be on the lookout for berg adders, puff adders, boomslang and Cape cobras.

The reserve is about 9 800 hectares, while Assegaaibosch is about 204 hectares. The smaller reserve is home to the historical Assegaaibosch farmstead, a national monument built in 1792, while both reserves are World Heritage Sites.

Jonkershoek is hot in summer, and cold and wet in winter. Visitors in the colder months may even see snow dusting the higher mountain peaks.

Runners know that the weather here can change rapidly between the base of the mountain, and one of the peaks, making the compulsory kit list for Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge vital when navigating the route.

Entries for the JMC 2018 open on 27 February, and are likely to sell fast. Choose between the 38, 24 or 11km routes. All the information you need is here.