Donkey Trail

*Please note that the Donkey Trail is closed until 1 September 2017. We apologise for the inconvenience. 

The Swartberg Four-Day Hike is a strenuous but rewarding trail with beautiful views. Alternatively, slack-packers will enjoy the exciting donkey trail, which allows hikers to soak up their surroundings while donkeys carry their luggage.

Trail distance: 25km
Estimated time: 4 days

This unique experience combines biodiversity, history and heritage in an exciting four-day trail. Donkeys carry your luggage, leaving you free to explore the beautiful surroundings.

The trail passes by ancient rock art sites, distinctive pioneer architecture and amazing plants. Hikers will indulge in regional cuisine and the famous ports of the region. All meals, trail snacks, bedding and towels, guides, donkeys, porters, CapeNature reserve fees and return transfers over the Swartberg Pass are included in the cost.

To find out more visit www.donkeytrail.com or email info@donkeytrail.com.

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat.
  • Take a warm jacket/raincoat in winter.
  • Hikers should bring light slipslops for the evenings (no one may go barefoot at the rest camp), insect repellent, lip ice, binoculars, camera, personal medication, walking stick, day packs, cash for alcoholic beverages and curios, three layers of clothing for hiking days (t-shirt, fleece and waterproof), long pants.
  • No firearms or narcotics allowed.
  • Wine and beer is served at Living Waters and Wyenek. A variety of beverages are on offer during the last night at Gamkaskloof.

Hiking and Walking

A variety of walking and hiking trails are available in this reserve, including the Ou Tol, Platberg and De Hoek trails. The best time for hiking is April–May and September–October each year, because of the milder weather.

Hiking trails

There are a variety of hiking trails to choose from, varying in intensity. Regardless of how long the trail is, read the trail preparation points carefully.

Help us protect nature

No pets/no firearms/no picking of flowers or collecting of seeds/no fires except in designated areas/no quad bikes.


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

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.

Ou Tol Circle Route

Trail distance: 7.4km
Estimated time: 2.5 hours
Platberg Circle Route

Trail distance: 8.4km
Estimated time: 2.5 hours

De Hoek Day Trail

Trail distance: 8.8km
Estimated time: 3 hours

Konings Gat (in Gamkaskloof)

Trail distance: 1.4km
Estimated time: 1 hour
This is a relaxing walk through fynbos landscapes to the natural pool alongside the river.
There are amazing views along the route.

Grootkloof Hiking Trail (in Gamkaskloof)

Trail distance: 6.3km
Estimated time: 5 hours
A scenic route that provides a good workout and beautiful views of the Swartberg region.

Swartberg 4-day hike (can be shortened to a 2-day hike by starting at Ou Tol to Bothashoek and back)

This is a difficult hike and not for beginners.

  • Best time to hike:  September to October or April to May
  • NB:  A minimum of 3 people up to a maximum of 12 people will be allowed on the route.
  • Keys for the overnight huts to be collected and returned at the Oudtshoorn office before 16h00 – Monday to Friday

Please remember to bring:

  • Warm cloths
  • Sun hat
  • Sun block
  • Bedding
  • Towels
  • Toiletries
  • Food
  • Utensils
  • Water – is available at the huts but none on route
  • Gel for geyser and stove – (available at all Outdoor shops and Game)
  • Matches
  • Toilet paper
  • Plastic bag for the items you want to throw away – you need to take these items back with you and not leave them in the nature reserve

Day 1:  8.4 km from De Hoek Private Resort to Bothashoek Hut – very difficult

The trail starts at De Hoek Private Holiday Resort, on the road to Swartberg Pass about 35km outside Oudtshoorn where there is safe parking.  (Guests need to make their own arrangements should they wish to overnight at De Hoek:  044-272 8214).  Start early as you will be climbing most of the way: from De Hoek (±725m above sea level), up to Bothashoek hut (± 1460 m above sea level).

Bothashoek hut is a basic 4-roomed (3 bedrooms with beds and mattresses for 12 people and 1 room kitchen area, shower (with a solar geyser for warm water) that automatically switches to Gel Geyser when there is not enough sunshine(bring own gel) and flush toilets.  An outside braai is available – need to bring your own firewood.

  • Keys for Bothashoek overnight hut must be collected beforehand at the office in Oudtshoorn before 16h00 Monday to Friday

Day 2:  12.8 km from Bothashoek to Ou Tol Hut – moderate – On Jeep Track

Following the 4×4 route the trail winds down to Ou Tol hut, next to the Swartberg pass.

Out Tol hut can sleep 12 people in 3 bedrooms.  There is an kitchen, living room, bathroom with shower (with a solar geyser for warm water that automatically switches to Gel Geyser when there is not enough sunshine) bring own gel and flush toilet and braai area (again guests need to provide wood)

  • Keys for Ou Tol overnight hut must be collected beforehand at the office in Oudtshoorn before 16h00 Monday to Friday

 Day 3:  12 km from Ou Tol back to Bothashoek – difficult – On Crest of Mountain

The trail takes you over to the summit with majestic views of both sides of the Swartberg Mountain, and then back to Bothashoek hut.

Day 4:  8.4 km from Bothashoek back to De Hoek – moderate to difficult

You’ll have to do a few more steep ups and downs before trailing downhill back to De Hoek where you left your vehicle

Keys must be returned to Oudtshoorn office – a partition in the glass window was removed with clear notice for returning of keys.  Just drop them on your way back. Thank you and enjoy the beautiful area.