Marloth Nature Reserve

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

Please note that we are currently operating subject to National Lockdown regulations. Daily capacities are in place and to avoid disappointment, we strongly recommend that hikers book permits on booking.capenature.co.za as online bookings will be given preference. You can also book with our Contact Centre before leaving home. Call 087 087 8250 or email reservation.alert@capenature.co.za. The safety of our visitors and staff remains paramount. All visitors entering a controlled CapeNature reserve entrance gate will be subjected to a screening process upon arrival. Your continued support in complying with the national regulations and guidelines is much appreciated.

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 and map.

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: 07h00–16h00

Please report to reception on arrival. Check-in times for overnight guests, strictly 14h00 to 16h00.  Note that the Covid-19 related checkin takes at least 15 minutes per guest group. Late arrivals will not be accepted.

Tel: +27 (0)28 514 1410
Emergency tel: +27 (0)82 496 2450
Accommodation and permit bookings Tel: 087 087 8250




  • Suikerbekkie Cottage

    Suikerbekkie cottage accommodates a maximum of 4 people in 2 bedrooms.  One bedroom has a double bed while the other room has a single bed double bunk. Bedding and towels are provided.  The cottage has a fully equipped kitchen with fridge, stove/oven, microwave, toaster and cutlery/crockery.  The bathroom is equipped with hot and cold water with shower and flush toilet. There is an inside fireplace and an outside braai area. Guests will need to stock up in Swellendam, as there is no shop on site.

    Electricity: Yes
    Bathroom: Hot-water shower
    Kitchen: Fully equipped
    Bedding, linen and towels: Yes
    Fireplace and braai: Yes, please note that no firewood is sold on the reserve. Guests will need to buy wood in the town which is approximately 500 metres from the reserve gates.
    Disabled access: No
    Pets welcome: No

  • Bushbuck Cottage

    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 and braai: Yes, please note that no firewood is sold on the reserve. Guests will need to buy wood in the town which is approximately 500 metres from the reserve gates.
    Disabled access: No
    Pets welcome: No


  • 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.

    Hikers may, however, still walk the first section of the trail which starts at the office and passes through Boskloof, Goedgeloof, Proteavallei and Wolfkloof. Shorter day routes are possible. This trail is fairly demanding and should only be attempted by fit hikers. Reservations are limited to a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 10 people. Trips should be planned in advance as hikers are not permitted to leave the trail due to it being surrounded by private property, especially at Wolfkloof and Gooedgeloof, as well of the possibility of getting lost.

    Marloth Hiking 4 632x324

    Hiking trails

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


    Four rustic huts equipped only with beds, water and primitive toilets provide limited overnight shelter. Hikers should bring their own cooking utensils, bedding, warm screen and drinking water. Boskloof shelter has no mattresses so hikers need to provide their own hiking mat rolls. Fires are only permitted at the demarcated site at Wolfkloof due to the high risk of veld fires and the scarcity of fire wood. All shelters are self maintained and must be left as found with “leave no trace” principles needing to be adhered to at all times. No refuse bins are provided as hikers must carry out everything carried in, and no dumping of any items is allowed.

    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 may be purchased for R50 per adult and R30 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

    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. 



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.


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.



9 Reviews

Protea list

Lukas Badenhorst, Apr 30, 2018 - Marloth Nature Reserve

Hi There

We were in Swellendam over the weekend and did some mountain biking and hiking in the reserve.

It was such a great experience for our first time.

There was a Protea species on the Koloniesbos trail that is not familiar and another couple also had not seen it in the Cape Town area either and it was their first experience with it at Marloth.

Do you perhaps have a list of Protea species occuring in the reserve? It was by far the most prolific flowering on the trail.

Look forward to your response.

Kind regards


The 17 Best Multi-Day Trails In The Western Cape – FEELZERO.COM, Feb 9, 2018 - Marloth Nature Reserve

[…] Duration: 6 daysDistance: 80 kmCost: R120 per person plus entrance fees of R40 per personWebsite: https://www.capenature.co.za/reserves/marloth-nature-reserve/ […]


2018 TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice award winners:Managing Expectations | Liz at Lancaster Guest House Blog, Feb 4, 2018 - Marloth Nature Reserve

[…] is set in 6 and a half acres of spectacular gardens in the Robertson wine valley close to the  Marloth and De Hoop Nature Reserves, And they even have an on-site spa and […]


Nature Lover's Visit To Swellendam | Tulips and Phoenixes, Dec 19, 2017 - Marloth Nature Reserve

[…] Marloth Nature Reserve | 028 514 1410 | hvtonder@capenature.co.za […]


MCSA Search & Rescue: Marloth Nature Reserve - Hiking South Africa, Sep 6, 2017 - Marloth Nature Reserve

[…] Cape team, assisted in the rescue of a Belgian tourist who had become lost while hiking in the Marloth Nature Reserve near […]

1 2

Write a review

Reserves nearby

Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve

A magical reserve with beautiful stretches of indigenous forest
Boosmansbos Wilderness

Boosmansbos Wilderness Area

Indigenous forest, mountain fynbos and rare birds make Boosmansbos a hiker’s paradise

Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve

Vrolijkheid lives up to its name – happiness – when bright orange botterblom daisies decorate the reserve…
Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.Update my browser now


Get involved

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.