The franschhoek mountainland is made of Table Mountain sandstone that was first raised as a mountain range more than 265 million years ago. The present landscape, mountains as well as valleys dates from the break-up of Gondwanas some 140 million years ago and is the direct result of continued erosion by the Berg River (and other rivers) in the region.


Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve (1759 hectares) was proclaimed in 1982. It is part of a designated World Heritage Site. The highest peak within the reserve is Perdekop (1575 metres) Other prominent peaks, are DuToitskop (1418 metres) and Middagkrans (1029 metres) Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve has supplied Franschhoek Village with water since 1823.


Winter (June – August) is cool and rainy; summer (november – February) is hot, dry and windy. Rainfall can exceed 1500mm/year. Rare falls of light snow can occur on high ground. Summertime southeasterly gales are normally accompanied by impressive “table cloth” clouds.


The Cape Floral Kingdom, which contains the Fynbos Biome (8600 different plant species), is the world’s smallest and most species-rich floral kingdom. The Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve is characterised by montane fynbos flora established on a leached acidic sandy soil derived from Table Mountain sandstone.

The Mont Rochelle montane fynbos comprises restios (reed-like plant that resemble grass but are not); shrubby, woody flowering plants called ericas (and others), most having small, narrow leaves and multiple small flowers; proteas, mostly large, woody plants, typically with large, robust leathery leaves and large individual composite flowers; and geophytes (bulbous plants). A large variety of minor montane fynbos plants completes the floral assemblage. Indigenous trees are confined to mountain valleys and cliff faces giving rise to the distinctive “bare” look of the mountain slopes.


During winter the mountain streams normally flow strongly but during the summer most are dry, or almost dry, except for pools that derive water from perennial springs in the Table Mountain sandstone – an excellent aquifer. These springs supply drinking water to Franschhoek.

Mountain stream water has a pale brown colour due to natural humic acids derived from fynbos plants; it is normally quite safe to drink.