Marloth Nature Reserve

Marloth Nature Reserve is a hidden gem in the majestic Swellendam Mountains

Marloth Nature Reserve is hidden away in the imposing Swellendam Mountains, between Swellendam, Ashton, Barrydale and Suurbraak. Swellendam is the third oldest town in South Africa and has many interesting cultural-historic features. The peaceful reserve, which is 14 123 hectares in size, is managed together with 16 532 hectares of privately owned land, and is a World Heritage Site.

Marloth Nature Reserve is named after the pioneer botanist who, together with a deputation of Swellendam residents, petitioned the Minister of Lands and Forestry in 1928 to set aside part of the mountain as a nature reserve. During 1981, the reserve was enlarged to include the rest of the State Forest and the Swellendam hiking trail was opened.

The reserve’s vegetation is predominantly mountain fynbos, with patches of forest. There are several species of protea and more than 25 species of erica, most of which flower in November. Marloth, like the rest of the southern Cape, has hot summers and cold winters. The higher mountain peaks are occasionally dusted in snow during the cold winter months.

To find out more, download the Marloth Nature Reserve Brochure.

How to get there

From Cape Town: Take the N2 highway towards Swellendam. Just past Swellendam, turn left onto the R60 and then follow signs for Marloth Nature Reserve. Turn right at the signpost and travel about 3km until you reach the reserve gates. There is a short amount of gravel road, approximately 1.2km long, leading up to the reserve gates. The route from Cape Town is about 220km and will take about two and a half hours.

GPS: 33 57 56.16 S 20 23 31.2 E

Office hours: 07:00–16:00

Tel: +27 (0)28 514 1410
Emergency tel: +27 (0)82 496 2450
Accommodation and permit bookings Tel: +27 (0)21 483 0190

 

Accommodation

Self-catering

  • Bushbuck Cottage

    Marloth offers charming and comfortable accommodation in a self-catering cottage that sleep up to six people at a time.

    Bushbuck Cottage is a fully equipped self-catering cottage. It is perfect for a weekend getaway or as an overnight stop before starting the six-day Swellendam Trail. Bushbuck Cottage sleeps six people in three separate rooms. One bedroom has a double bed, while the other two rooms have two single beds. Guests will need to stock up in Swellendam, as there is no shop on site.

    Electricity: Yes
    Bathroom: Hot-water bath and shower
    Kitchen: Fully equipped
    Bedding, linen and towels: Yes
    Fireplace: Yes, and braai (firewood is sold on the reserve)
    Disabled access: No
    Pets welcome: No

Activities

  • Picnicking

    Marloth Picnic 632x324
    There are picnic tables at the reserve entrance, as well as a picnic area adjacent to the parking lot at the start of the picturesque Duiwelsbos waterfall hike. Both areas have panoramic views of the imposing mountain ranges above.

  • Mountain biking

    Marloth has great routes for mountain bikers to explore, varying from easy to advanced trails. The routes are limited to the plantation gravel roads. For more details visit the reserve office.

  • Horse Riding

    For those with their own horses, Marloth has various trails available in the reserve and the neighbouring plantation. Private operators in the area provide horses and guided trails. Details are available at the reserve office.

  • Hiking and Walking

    Marloth offers various day trails, ranging from easy, short walks to more strenuous, longer hikes. These trails lead into the shady green indigenous forest, where cool pools and waterfalls wait to be discovered. Day walks are open from sunrise to sunset.

    Marloth Hiking 4 632x324

    Hiking trails

    Marloth offers four hiking trails, all with their own scenic attractions.

    Huts

    There are basic overnight huts available with mattresses, basic toilets and drinking water. There are no cooking utensils in the huts.

    Help us protect nature

    No pets/no firearms/no picking of flowers or collection of seeds/no fishing without permits/fires only in designated areas.

    Permits

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

    Marloth Hiking 2 632x324

    Trail preparation

    •  Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat.
    • Do not hike alone.
    • Carry enough food and water with you.
    • Make sure you know what the weather conditions are before you depart.
    • Take a warm jacket/raincoat in winter.
    • Make sure you have a relevant map of the area.
    • Take a field medical kit with you for emergencies.
    • Obey all signage.
    • Stay in a group and on the trails.Marloth Hiking 1 632x324

    Twaalfuurkop Peak

    Trail distance: 12.4km
    Estimated time: 6 hours

    This challenging hike starts from the reserve office. The trail takes hikers to the mountain peak of Twaalfuurkop (1 450m), offering breathtaking views of the entire Langeberg Mountains, the Rûensveld and even the Indian Ocean. We suggest hiking in a group of at least three. Be prepared for rapid climatic changes and extreme weather conditions.

    Marloth Hiking 5 632x324 Duiwelsbos Waterfall

    Duiwelsbos Waterfall

     

    Trail distance: 2km
    Estimated time: 2 hours

    This lovely hike starts at the Koloniesbos parking area. Hikers make their way to the beautiful Duiwelsbos Waterfall via the cool green indigenous forest. On the trail you’ll see the reserve’s rich plant and wildlife, including fynbos, birds and small animals.

    Plaat Loop

    Trail distance: 12km
    Estimated time: 3 hours

    The Plaat Loop is a moderate hike with inspiring views and plenty of cool mountain streams to swim in along the trail.

    Appelsbos Loop

    Trail distance: 21km
    Estimated time: 5 hours

    This trail starts from Marloth Office and provides a good workout.

    Multi-day hiking

    *Please note that the Swellendam Trail is currently closed due until further notice. 
    The challenging Swellendam Hiking Trail is one of South Africa’s top ten hikes. Hikers can choose various routes between two and six days in length. The trails have rustic huts, with mattresses, basic toilets and drinking water. No cooking utensils are provided. Fires are only allowed at the Glen Stream and Wolfkloof huts due to the high risk of wildfires and scarcity of firewood. A trail map and brochure are available on request.

    Marloth Hiking 3 632x324

     

  • Bird watching

    Avid birders should be on the lookout for the reserve’s 114 species, including the African fish eagle, black eagle, wood owl, red-winged francolin, tambourine dove, four different species of woodpecker, and the Cape vulture. 

Location

Conservation

Marloth Nature Reserve Conservation

Marloth’s original forests covered a much larger area, but they were exploited by the local furniture and wagon industries over the years, leaving only a few isolated patches of forest in damper areas today. Typical forest species include yellowwood, stinkwood, Cape beech, wild olive, assegaaibos, cherrywood and hard pear.
The nature reserve is home to many small mammals, including the grey rhebok, klipspringer, common duiker, baboon, caracal, mongoose, porcupine, dassie and hare. Marloth also has leopard, but they are rarely seen. The area is rich in birdlife, with 114 species recorded, including the African fish eagle, black eagle, wood owl, red-winged francolin, tambourine dove, and four different species of woodpecker. Hikers should be on the lookout for snakes, such as puff adder, Cape cobra and mountain adder.

Filming

Marloth Nature Reserve Filming

The floral diversity of Marloth Nature Reserve is unmatched across the Western Cape and the fact that it is named after a pioneering botanist says much about the vegetation in this 14 123 hectares of pristine mountain tract.

As a filming location, this area consists mostly of mountain fynbos, including several species of protea and more than 25 varieties of erica. Patches of afromontane forest are also existent in the valleys and gorges of the reserve.

 

 

3 Reviews

Great to be

Karel van Tonder, Mar 23, 2016 - Marloth Nature Reserve

Prepare to be amazed

Reply

lovely farntrail

Sandra, Jan 11, 2016 - Marloth Nature Reserve

Lovely trail through fern forest to an unspectacular but lovely waterfall - nice family picnic area on the stones or sitting on a tree trunk

Reply

Stealing Beauty... Oh, what to do in Swellendam - Schoone Oordt Country House, Apr 1, 2015 - Marloth Nature Reserve

[…] and Bontebok National Park, transport you to places in yourself that you’ve never visited. Marloth Nature Reserve stretches along the Langeberg Mountains, blessed with natural fresh water pools, lush forest and […]

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Bookings are processed through our Call Centre during office hours Monday to Friday 07h30 to 16h30 and Saturday 08h00 until 12h00 noon (CAT).

Our friendly tourism booking officers will take you through the booking process and answer all enquiries.