Towerkop Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Towerkop is named after the imposing split peak of the Towerkop that, together with the Seweweekspoort Peak, overshadows the beautiful reserve. Towerkop Nature Reserve lies west of the Swartberg Nature Reserve and together with Gamkapoort Nature Reserve are not open to the public. This is because the main reasons for the reserves' existence is to conserve the water resources in the mountains, the fynbos and protect the catchment area from soil erosion.
However, there are a couple of hikes through Towerkop. The Klipkraal and Verlorenhoek trails easily function as separate day hikes, but combined can make a two-day hike with an overnighter at Uitkyk rock shelter. And the Elandsberg trail is another circular route that takes about 6 hours to complete. To do any of these you will need to contact the manager of Towerkop Nature Reserve (Cape Nature Conservation has offices in Ladismith).
Towerkop NR lies in the Little Karoo near the town of Ladismith on the R62 north east of Swellendam. Its importance is not only the year-round rainfall that supplies clean water to towns close by, but also the mountain fynbos species, particularly the endemic protea, the Protea aristata. There is also a one-of-a-kind sub-alpine plant community that lies between the Towerkop and Seweweekspoort peaks that requires conservation. The reserve is also fantastic for bird spotting.
Towerkop Nature Reserve and Gamkapoort Nature Reserve are managed as part of the Swartberg Nature Reserve and the whole conservation area makes up a rather huge 180 000 hectares that are critical for the arid Karoo. Unsuprisingly, the entire area is a proclaimed World Heritage Site. The gravel road of Seweweekspoort falls within Towerkop with picnic sites in amongst some of the overhangs where one can stop and drink in the views.