Where to Stay
What to Do
The remote and isolated Gamkaskloof Valley (Die Hel) has a rich ecological, archaeological and cultural history and is a must to visit! Declared a Cultural Historical Site within a World Heritage Site, it deserves special care to ensure it is preserved for future generations. It offers accommodation in 11 restored historical cottages, fully equipped with braai facilities. Of these, Stappies Cordier is fully equipped for people with disabilities.Gamkaskloof is only accessible from the Swartberg Pass via the Otto du Plessis road. There are no shops or fuel stations along the way so visitors should bring sufficient food for their stay.
This reserve conserves a diversity of vegetation from renosterveld to mountain fynbos and spekboom veld. It also supports a variety of wildlife, including antelope, baboons, dassies and leopard. Plants begin to flower on the lower levels of the mountain in spring and those fit enough to brave the higher peaks of the Swartberg Mountain could be lucky enough to spot the rare protea venusta. For fans of the beautiful protea, autumn is the best time to spot them in full bloom.
To find out more, download the Swartberg Nature Reserve brochure and map, and The Klein Karoo Birdlist.
How to get there
From Cape Town, take the N1 to Worcester, and then take the turn-off to the R60. Follow that road as it changes to the R62 at Montagu, and keep following it until you reach Calitzdorp. There are two options from here. The first has more gravel:
1) In Calitzdorp, from the petrol station on the main road, take the second street on your left to a gravel road that will take you to Living Waters and Calitzdorp dam. This gravel road takes you to Kruisrivier and Groenefontein side junction. At the junction there will be Cango Caves signage, then take the left turning to the north (Matjiesrivier) and to the Swartberg Pass.
2) Alternatively, follow the R62 to all the way to Oudtshoorn. Turn left off the R62 on to Baron van Reede. Follow the road west towards the Cango caves. Just before the Cango Caves, turn left again on to the Swartberg Pass road. The pass is well signposted. Follow the tar road, which then turns into a gravel road.
GPS: 33 35 01.69 S 22 11 45.74 E
Office hours: 07:30–16:00
Tel: 087 087 3002 (Oudtshoorn office)
Tel: 087 087 3932 (Gamkaskloof/The Hell office)
Accommodation and permit bookings Tel: 087 087 8250
Permits for day hikes only are also available from the Oudtshoorn Tourism office, corner Baron van Rheede street & the Queen's Hotel building, Oudtshoorn. Office hours: 08:30 - 17:00 (Monday to Friday) and 09:30 - 12:30 (Saturdays and public holidays).
Day Access = R50; Overnight fee = R40
Day Access = R30; Overnight fee = R20
Swartberg Nature Reserve Filming
The Swartberg Nature Reserve is teeming with a rich history and is perhaps best known as Gamkaskloof - a small settlement established there in 1830 by farmers of European origin. Entirely self-sufficient, the community of Gamkaskloof lived in isolation for over a century. The first road into Die Hel, as it is known, was only built in 1962. The village is now a cultural heritage site that forms part of the Swartberg Nature Reserve, a World Heritage Site.
Swartberg Nature Reserve lies in the district of Oudtshoorn, between the Great and Little Karoo.
It’s an area of climatic extremes where winters are characterised by vast snow-capped mountains while summer days reach high temperatures. The Swartberg Pass is a wildly popular setting for both photographers and filmmakers.
World Ranger Day
World Ranger Day is celebrated worldwide on July 31st to commemorate Rangers killed or injured in the line of duty and to celebrate the work that rangers do to protect the planet’s natural treasures and cultural heritage. The day allows us to reflect on the courage and sacrifices rangers must make to ensure that the conservation of our biodiversity is preserved for future generations.