The Swartberg Nature Reserve falls under the protection of Swartberg Mountain Complex which, in turn is one of the 8 protected areas of the Cape Floral Region. The Cape Floral Region is also one of the 8 areas that was declared a World Heritage Site in South Africa, by UNESCO.
The reserve covers an area of 121 000 hectares in a narrow strip from Gamkakloof on the west and Toorwaterpoort on the east, approximately 40 km form Oudtshoorn. To the south of the boundary, in about the middle of the reserve, is the town of De Hoek and the famous Cango Caves.
The Swartberg Nature Reserve borders the Gamkapoort Nature Reserve in the north and the Towverkop Nature Reserve on the west. This area of land is important as it links the areas between the Klein Karoo and Groot Karoo through pathways which include:
- Toorwaterpoort Railway
- Meiringspoort Road
- Swartberg Pass - runs right through the middle of the reserve and links Prince Albert in the north and Oudtshoorn in the south and passing close to De Hoek and the Cango Caves, that are found just outside the reserve’s borders.
Swartberg Nature reserve is custodian to a variety of vegetation such as:
- Mountain Fybos
- Protea Venusta – a rare species of protea
- There are also 160 bird species in the Reserve including several eagles, the Pied Kingfisher and the Cape Sugar bird
- Picnic and braai (Barbecue) areas
- 4x4 trails – day or overnight routes
- Heritage trail hike that covers 25 km and takes 3 nights and 4 days and comes with guides and donkeys. This hike includes all meals and the luggage is carried by the donkeys
- Self-Catering in restored cottages in the Gamkakloof
- Stappies Cordier Cottage which accommodates people with disabilities
- 10 Camping sites with hot water and braai facilities
- Bush camp with hot water and braai facilities
Gamkakloof Cultural Historic Site
This valley in the Swartberg Nature Reserve cannot be missed when visiting the area. It is of great ecological, archaeological and cultural value and has been declared a Cultural Historic Site. This area is not accessible with a caravan as the roads do not accommodate caravans.The Gamka River runs through this area and offers fishing, good picnic areas and exploring of historical artefacts like the antique Norwegian Mill. No quad bikes or motorcycles are allowed without prior arrangement.
- Sundays to Saturdays, 07h30 – 16h00