Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve, Northern Cape
Just 10 kilometres outside of the little town of Nieuwoudtville, between the towns of Van Rhynsdorp and Calvinia, lies the Oorlogskloof (war gorge) Nature Reserve. It is an untamed accumulation of gorges, rivers, caves and plateaus that provide anyone with even a vague botanical leaning with hours of potential exploration, as well as some bona fide hiking challenges, making it well worth a visit.
Oorlogskloof is exactly what it sounds, an area dominated by gorges where a war ensued in 1739 between the indigenous Khoi and local farmers. Dutch colonists in the area were under obligation to supply the Khoi, who lived on the plains and were fundamentally livestock farmers, with water and pasture land. As you can imagine there was a fair amount of appropriation of livestock on both sides and things eventually got out of hand during 1739.
Today, Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve is 4 776 hectares of mountains dissected by deep river gorges. Through these flows the Oorlogskloof River in an area that sits on the transition zone between fynbos and Karoo biomes. Two major hiking trails dominate the reserve, but there are also a couple of day routes or circular hikes.
The Rock Pigeon Trail or Kransduifroete covers 52 kilometres over four to five days. Don’t try to combine the shorter day one (only 4 kilometres) with day two, as it’s a pretty strenuous walk over rugged terrain that takes roughly 7 hours to complete. The other route is known as the Rameron Pigeon route or Geelbekbosduifroete and whilst covering the same number of kilometres as the former hike, can take anything from four to seven days, as the trail becomes more strenuous as the days proceed.