Swartberg Nature Reserve

The Swartberg Nature Reserve is a narrow 121 000 hectare finger of land that divides the Groot and Klein Karoo, lying between Prince Albert and Oudtshoorn

Western Cape Game and Nature ReservesThe Swartberg Nature Reserve

The Swartberg Nature Reserve is a narrow 121 000 hectare finger of land that divides the Groot and Klein Karoo, lying between Prince Albert and Oudtshoorn.

Flanked to the north by the Gamkapoort Nature Reserve, and west by the Towerkop Nature Reserve (neither of which is open to the public) the three reserves function as one large mountainous conservation area of 180 000 hectares.

The Swartberg Pass cuts the reserve almost in two whilst further east, Meiringspoort wends its way through the Swartberg Nature Reserve before it reaches De Rust.

The Swartberg Nature Reserve is a World Heritage Site (one of eight regions that collectively protect the Cape Floral Region, renowned for its biodiversity).

It boasts a sense of vastness, a peaceful atmosphere that appeals to hikers, or to those simply after a tranquil picnic at the picnic and braai spots in the reserve. The Gamkapoort Dam, in the north western corner of the reserve, provides ample opportunity for fishing, canoeing and sailing.

The reserve is most famous for the trail of the same name, the three-day hiking route that takes hikers into the heart of unspoilt mountain fynbos via caves filled with San rock art with overnight huts at Ou Tol and Bothashoek and views of the Cape fold mountains.

Gamkaskloof, also known as Die Hel, lies isolated within the reserve in the wedge of the Gamkaskloof valley south of the dam. A Cultural Historical Site in its own right, Die Hel's community remained undiscovered for years, with little communication with the outside world. The valley now has nine restored historical cottages, as well as camp sites, available in which to stay and one reaches it only via the Swartberg Pass.

Game Lodges in Swartberg Nature Reserve

Buffelsdrift Game Lodge

Where? Oudtshoorn
Buffelsdrift is a sprawling game farm in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains in the Cango Valley, Pristine bushveld, lush vegetation and a 5 ha dam provides a haven for twenty game species and more than 217 bird species. Buffelsdrift Game...

More info and photographs: Buffelsdrift Game Lodge

Swartberg Private Game Lodge

Where? Oudtshoorn
At the foot of the majestic Swartberg Mountain Range, in the heart of the Little Karoo, lies the exclusive Swartberg Private Wildlife Estate. The estate borders the Swartberg Reserve, part of the Cape Floristic Region and a World Heritage Site...

More info and photographs: Swartberg Private Game Lodge

Popular Activities in Swartberg Nature Reserve

Hiking in the Swartberg Pass


Lindsay arranges a hiking permit and then drives you into the Swartberg Pass with a picnic lunch, a bird list and map and you hike back down to Malva Draai, where beers or soft drinks will be cooling in the river. Choose between a 9km and an 18km...

More info and contact details: Hiking in the Swartberg Pass

The Swartberg Pass


The 27km Swartberg Pass is considered one of the finest mountain passes in the world: an untarred road that winds to the summit 1583 metres above sea level in steep zigzags and sudden switchbacks with breathtaking views at every turn...

More info and contact details: The Swartberg Pass

Did you know?

Gamkaskloof is no longer hidden from the rest of the world. It is, however, quite a feat to reach the little valley and the greater Swartberg Nature Reserve, but well worth the effort, if escaping from it all is high on your list of priorities.

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