About Tamboerskloof

Tamboerskloof is a cosmopolitan village right in the middle of Cape Town on the slopes of Lion's Head and Signal Hill. It’s situated at a higher elevation than the rest of the neighbourhoods in the Cape Town City Bowl, and one can arguably assert that it is also the neighbourhood with the best views. It’s surrounded by Lion’s head and Signal Hill on the one side with sweeping views over the harbour, Table Mountain, and the rest of the Cape Town City Bowl, a setting that ensures it’s sheltered against the legendary Southeaster wind that whips the city in the summer months.   It is one of the oldest residential suburbs in the City Bowl with a mixture of beautiful large Victorian style homes, art deco apartment blocks, sprawling Villas, guesthouses and modern futuristic architectural styled homes.

History

The name “Tamboerskloof” are derived from a combination of the Dutch words for drum and ravine, and there is an interesting story behind it. Dutch settlers who supplied ships from the Dutch East India Company developed a system to let them know when ships arrived to restock, so that they knew when to ferry their produce to the harbour. As part of that system, they stationed spotters in lookout posts in the hills and mountains around the peninsula, who then used drums to herald the arrival of ships and to relay the message from one lookout post to another. The very first spotter was placed where Tamboerskloof lies today.

In the 1800’s the area to the right of Kloof Nek Road consisted of four farms, Klippenburg, Tamboerskloof, Leeuwenvoet and De hoop, that were used to grow fresh supplies for city residents and passing ships.  Today Leeuwenvoet and De Hoop are street names that pays homage to the farms who paid homage to the first settles in the neighbourhood.

The first urban dwellers to settle the area were soldiers who returned from the Anglo Boer War and settled in Victorian era houses. Around 1930, an influx of settlers from other parts of the world enriched the existing architecture with houses and apartment buildings in the Art Deco style.

Flora

The dominating plant type in the areas around Tamboerskloof is fynbos, a collection of Mediterranean type shrublands. The area around Tamboerskloof, including Table Mountain, Lion's Head and Table Mountain, is home to at least three endangered vegetation types that only occurs in the City of Cape Town and occurs nowhere else. They are the Granite Fynbos, Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos and the Peninsula Shale Renosterveld. An example of the striking plants that forms part of this fynbos types is the Grey tree-pincushion, with its striking golden yellow flowers and contrasting grey leaves

This beautiful and rare vegetation supported large game animals in the past, such as Rhinoceros, Eland and Cape Lions. However, due to its being centred on what is now Cape Town’s city centre, the vast majority has been destroyed and replaced by urban development. Continuing threats include alien invasive species, urban development and the prevention of wildfires. Fynbos relies on fire for germination and renewal, but even the strictly controlled burning programs carried out are hugely unpopular amongst the residents of the wealthy suburbs that envelopes the slopes of Table Mountain.

Signal Hill and Lion’s Head

Tamboerskloof iconic immediate neighbours, Lion’s Head and Signal Hill offers visitors the chance to both savour the history of Cape Town and experience its natural heritage up close. Signal hill, the northern most tip of this formation, offers excellent views of the City and the Harbour. The tomb of Sheikh Mohammed Hassen Ghaibie are also found on Signal hill, and form parts of a ‘holy circle’ of kramats – the shrines of great Muslim spiritual leaders. Legend has it that these kramats are offering divine protection to the city, fulfilling a 250-year-old prophecy.

Signal Hill is also the location of the Noon Gun, a set of cannons that are fired daily to signify midday, since February 1806 without fail. The original 1794 18-pounder smoothbore muzzleloaders are still used today and are reportedly the oldest daily used guns in the world

Lion’s Head is the peak to the right of Table Mountain when facing it head on and offers a short but popular hike with 360-degree views of the Atlantic seaboard, the City and Table Mountain. A popular tradition in Cape Town is to hike to the top on full moon. While this is a memorable experience, it should only be done in groups, and led by someone with experience.

Fauna

If you could go back in history, to the time before the first settlers arrived in Cape Town in the 1600’s, the area that is Tamboerskloof today was a natural wonderland. On the slopes of Lion hill, cape lions stalked grazing bontebok, while grunting hippos splashed in the natural pools. Much has changed since then, with the last Cape Lion reportedly shot in 1802, with no trace left of the iconic African large game that once roamed the fynbos. However, there are still a multitude of wildlife in Table Mountain National Park, some very rarely seen but some have become quite used to human presence and are often seen by hikers in the area. It’s not uncommon to encounter antelope such as grysbok, rhebok, and steenbok early in the morning or in the evening.

They are held in check by the only cat capable of pulling down an antelope, the caracal.  The dassie, or rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) is Table Mountains unofficial mascot and holds out on the rocky outcrops of Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and Signal Hill.

More than 20 snake species occur in the mountainous vicinity, of which 12 are venomous.  have been identified on the mountain. There is nothing to fear if you are careful and sensible however, snakes are shy, retiring reptiles and are unlikely to behave aggressively unless they feel threatened.

The unique and diverse vegetation of Table Mountain National Park attracts a variety of birds, from raptors to tiny sugarbirds, a real haven for the avid bird watcher.

Popular attractions in Tamboerskloof

The inner city's design, media, ICT entrepreneurship and creative hub borders Tamboerskloof in the north and the Castle of Goodhope and District Six in the south. Places that definitely deserve a visit include Woodheads, a leather merchant that have been operating since 1867, The Bank, an old bank branch that have been transformed into an entertainment venue and the District Six Museum that honours the community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants that once called District six their home.

This informal foster farm, fondly known by locals as Tamboerskloof farm is located in the middle of Tamboerskloof on a now defunct military base. The property is home to a couple of artists who use the shabby 1893 building as studio space, a collection of animals and an organic vegetable farming community known as Tyisa Nabanye, who maintain a vegetable garden and indigenous nursery. It has also been functioning as an informal foster farm for over two decades under the care of Andre Laubscher. It is home to thirty residents, many of whom came to the farm as a last resort.

Parents often bring their children to the farm after school to play in the treehouses or learn about the animals, and even more people visit the farm on weekends and holidays to visit the market.

The wonderfully chaotic Tamboerskloof Farm forms a sharp contrast with the rest of the city’s neatly defined zones, based on the legacies of South Africa’s apartheid past. However, this bastion of social inclusion is under constant threat of closing down with numerous attempts of eviction launched against residents by the authorities.

The private Deutsche Internationale Schule Kapstadt have a proud heritage of more than a hundred years. The school, that are affectionately named “Tambi”, and “The family school in the city” by residents, was established in 1903 and are still operating from the same historic site.

Above everything else it’s the people and the lifestyle possibilities they model that define a place. Tamboerskloof is a suburb that offers a luscious suburban lifestyle living that is especially appealing to families with children. You can find a doctor, grocery store, several pubs, bus stops and more without walking more than ten minutes anywhere in Tamboerskloof, while being surrounded by all the natural splendour of the Table Mountain National Park. The neighbourhood has unrestricted views of Table Mountain, Signal Hill and Devil’s Peak and Cape Town Harbour. Here you can indulge to your hearts delight with the landed gentry and their hipster offspring in the genteel cafe society that is only bearably cosmopolitan and solve the world's problems by shopping sustainably, handwoven and organic. It’s a cocoon that offers retreat after the hustle of the masses assaulted the senses in the inner city.

Tamboerskloof have a history of stretching back many years of welcoming expatriates in its bosom, and unlike many other upscale neighbourhoods around the world, welcome tourists and visitors from around the globe with open arms. Its aspirational lifestyle is available to any traveller, regardless of their budget. Accommodation establishments range from backpackers, self-catering holiday suites to full service hotels, far enough from each other not to disturb the leafy suburb character of the neighbourhood.

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