Hiking

Gamkaberg Trails (All trails start at the info centre where information on the trails is provided)

Hiking and Walking

Day Walks

The hiking trails on offer at Gamkaberg give you the chance to experience some spectacular viewpoints and natural tranquility within the reserve. Hikers have several options including the overnight Tierkloof Hiking Trail and should be prepared for some fairly rough terrain. When hiking at Gamkaberg, always be prepared for unpredictable weather as the area experiences high temperatures in summer and gets very cold in winter.

Permits may be purchased for R40 per adult and R20 per child at the reserve office or bookings can be made via CapeNature Central Reservations office.

The Klein Karoo falls within the Cape Floral Kingdom and is one of the botanical wonders of the world. It harbours five biomes, namely:

  • Renosterveld,
  • Afromontane forest,
  • Fynbos,
  • Succulent karoo, and
  • Subtropical thicket

The Gamkaberg day trails take you through the succulent karoo and subtropical thicket.

Download the Gamkaberg Bossie Identification Guide (pdf) for a map of the day trails and a list of the common species you may encounter.

Bossie Trail Poster - Gamkaberg Nature Reserve

Guarrie Trail

Trail distance:  0.7km
Estimated time: 20 min

This short trail takes one through the lowland succulent karoo vegetation. The 20 most common and interesting plant species are demarcated for ID purposes and interpretation is provided in the info brochure.

Trail Preparation: Do not hike alone. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Make sure to carry sufficient food, water and take along your binoculars. Permits are to be purchased via CapeNature Central Reservations or reserve office. In winter, a raincoat/pancho is advised.

Spekboom Trail

Trail distance:  1.3km
Estimated time: 30 min

This trail branches off the Guarrie trail and takes you higher up onto the foothills into the spekboomveld. It offers a wonderful view of the Klein Karoo vlaktes as well as the Swartberg Range in the distance. The 20 most common and interesting plant species are demarcated.

Trail Preparation: Do not hike alone. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Make sure to carry sufficient food, water and take along your binoculars. Permits are to be purchased via CapeNature Central Reservations or reserve office. In winter, a raincoat/pancho is advised.

Mousebird Trail          

Trail distance:  2.5km
Estimated time: 1.5hrs

This trail takes you mainly through the Sweet thorn thicket along the valley bottom. It’s a great trail for observing the wide variety of bush birds which occur on Gamkaberg. (Bird list provided in the info brochure). The 20 most common and interesting plant species are demarcated.

Trail Preparation: Do not hike alone. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Make sure to carry sufficient food, water and take along your binoculars. Permits are to be purchased via CapeNature Central Reservations or reserve office. In winter, a raincoat/pancho is advised.

Pied Barbet

Trail distance:  4.1km
Estimated time: 2.5hrs

Acacia Pied Barbets are often seen and heard along this trail. It branches off from the Mousebird trail and continues further up in the sweet thorn thicket along the valley bottom. Returning at a higher level through the spekboom veld it allows one a view over the sweet thorn treetops. Also great for birding but offering a glimpse into the Tierkloof Ravine where the real wilderness starts.

An option is to branch off into the Tierkloof for a km or two, as your time or fitness levels dictate, just to experience the change in surroundings as the high cliffs on either side with forest vegetation in the valley bottom makes an appearance. Just turn back and join up with the Pied Barbet trail when you have taken in the pristine views.

Trail Preparation: Do not hike alone. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Make sure to carry sufficient food, water and take along your binoculars. Permits are to be purchased via CapeNature Central Reservations or reserve office. In winter, a raincoat/pancho is advised.

To Overhang and Back          

Trail distance:  14.4km
Estimated time: 6hrs

This trail is highly recommended for those with a bit of extra time and fitness levels.  It covers the two longer day trails (Mousebird and Pied Barbet) as well as the continuing deep into the Tierkloof which has remnants of evergreen forest vegetation below spectacular sheer sandstone cliffs all along the way. At the overhang you can have a picnic and a rest while looking over the dense vegetation further up the ravine before turning around to complete the route back to the start at the info centre.

Trail Preparation: Do not hike alone. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Make sure to carry sufficient food, water and take along your binoculars. Permits are to be purchased via CapeNature Central Reservations or reserve office. In winter, a raincoat/pancho is advised.

Multi-Day Hikes

Please note the Tierkloof hiking trail is currently closed until further notice due to fire damage following a fire in February 2017. 

Tierkloof Hiking Trail Day 1    

Trail distance:  13.2km
Estimated time: 8hrs

Tierkloof Hiking Trail Day 2     

Trail distance:  11.6km
Estimated time: 7hrs

Starting in succulent karoo, this is a moderately strenuous trail taking hikers through a deep, forested ravine to a fynbos-rich mountain plateau. Here they overnight at the remote Oukraal camp and enjoy spectacular views of the Swartberg and Outeniqua mountain ranges.

Trail Preparation: Do not hike alone. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Make sure to carry sufficient food, water and take along your binoculars. Permits are to be purchased via CapeNature Central Reservations or reserve office. In winter, a raincoat/pancho is advised.

Tierkloof Hiking Trail

*Fire alert – Tierkloof hiking trail is currently closed due to a fire on the reserve.

Day 1

Trail distance: 13.2km
Estimated time: 8hrs

Day 2

Trail distance: 11.6km
Estimated time: 7hrs

Starting in succulent karoo, this is a moderately strenuous trail taking hikers through a deep, forested ravine to a fynbos-rich mountain plateau. Here they overnight at the remote Oukraal camp and enjoy spectacular views of the Swartberg and Outeniqua mountain ranges.

Trail Preparation: Do not hike alone. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Make sure to carry sufficient food, water and take along your binoculars. Permits are to be purchased via CapeNature Central Reservations or reserve office. In winter, a raincoat/pancho is advised.

To Overhang and Back

Trail distance: 14.4km
Estimated time: 6hrs

This trail is highly recommended for those with a bit of extra time and fitness levels.  It covers the two longer day trails (Mousebird and Pied Barbet) as well as the continuing deep into the Tierkloof which has remnants of evergreen forest vegetation below spectacular sheer sandstone cliffs all along the way. At the overhang you can have a picnic and a rest while looking over the dense vegetation further up the ravine before turning around to complete the route back to the start at the info centre.

Trail Preparation: Do not hike alone. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Make sure to carry sufficient food, water and take along your binoculars. Permits are to be purchased via CapeNature Central Reservations or reserve office. In winter, a raincoat/pancho is advised.

Pied Barbet

Trail distance: 4.1km
Estimated time: 2.5hrs

Acacia Pied Barbets are often seen and heard along this trail. It branches off from the Mousebird trail and continues further up in the sweet thorn thicket along the valley bottom. Returning at a higher level through the spekboom veld it allows one a view over the sweet thorn treetops. Also great for birding but offering a glimpse into the Tierkloof Ravine where the real wilderness starts.

An option is to branch off into the Tierkloof for a km or two, as your time or fitness levels dictate, just to experience the change in surroundings as the high cliffs on either side with forest vegetation in the valley bottom makes an appearance. Just turn back and join up with the Pied Barbet trail when you have taken in the pristine views.

Trail Preparation: Do not hike alone. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Make sure to carry sufficient food, water and take along your binoculars. Permits are to be purchased via CapeNature Central Reservations or reserve office. In winter, a raincoat/pancho is advised.

Mousebird Trail

Trail distance: 2.5km
Estimated time: 1.5hrs

This trail takes you mainly through the Sweet thorn thicket along the valley bottom. It’s a great trail for observing the wide variety of bush birds which occur on Gamkaberg. (Bird list provided in the info brochure). The 20 most common and interesting plant species are demarcated.

Trail Preparation: Do not hike alone. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Make sure to carry sufficient food, water and take along your binoculars. Permits are to be purchased via CapeNature Central Reservations or reserve office. In winter, a raincoat/pancho is advised.

Spekboom Trail

Trail distance: 1.3km
Estimated time: 30 min

This trail branches off the Guarrie trail and takes you higher up onto the foothills into the spekboomveld. It offers a wonderful view of the Klein Karoo vlaktes as well as the Swartberg Range in the distance. The 20 most common and interesting plant species are demarcated.

Trail Preparation: Do not hike alone. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Make sure to carry sufficient food, water and take along your binoculars. Permits are to be purchased via CapeNature Central Reservations or reserve office. In winter, a raincoat/pancho is advised.

Guarrie Trail

Trail distance: 0.7km
Estimated time: 20 min

This short trail takes one through the lowland succulent karoo vegetation. The 20 most common and interesting plant species are demarcated for ID purposes and interpretation is provided in the info brochure.

Trail Preparation: Do not hike alone. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Make sure to carry sufficient food, water and take along your binoculars. Permits are to be purchased via CapeNature Central Reservations or reserve office. In winter, a raincoat/pancho is advised.