Gamkaberg is an isolated mountain range in the Little Karoo, lying
between the Swartberg and Outeniqua mountains. The Gamka Mountain
Nature Reserve (9 428 ha) comprises virtually the entire mountain range and is
situated 33 km south-west of Oudtshoorn and 32 km south-east of Calitzdorp. The
name Gamka is derived from the Khoikhoi ("Hottentot") word gami, meaning lion.
The reserve was established in 1974 in order to conserve a local population of
endangered Cape mountain zebra and their natural habitat. The terrain is rugged,
with mountainous plateaux incised by deep ravines. The main rock formations
consist of Table Mountain quartzites and shales, and Bokkeveld sandstone and
The reserve lies between the winter and summer rainfall
regions, and experiences gentle soaking rain in winter and thundershowers in
summer. The annual rainfall averages 500 mm at the summits and 300 mm on the
lower slopes of the mountain. Although summers can be very hot, the moderate
climate allows for visiting throughout the year (malaria-free area).
The reserve has four main vegetation types, namely mountain fynbos,
arid fynbos, succulent karoo and riverine vegetation. Many interesting plants
occur, including the famous golden mimetes. A member of the protea family, this
species was discovered in 1988. The rare and endangered Cape mountain zebra,
leopard and honey badger occur in the reserve. Other mammals include eland, red
hartebeest, grysbok, grey rhebuck, klipspringer, duiker, steenbok, baboon,
caracal, and numerous smaller species. Gamka Mountain hosts a wide variety of
birds, reptiles and insects.
The reserve is open daily
from sunrise to sunset. Day visitors have access to the information centre,
short hikes and picnic and braai facilities. The reserve is also rich in Khoisan
rock art and early marine invertebrate fossils. Guided trips to these sites and
other places of interest can be arranged if booked in advance.
The Tierkloof bush camp provides rustic accommodation with
a gas fridge and stove, lanterns, beds and ablution and braai facilities. Tents
can be pitched at Oukraal, which also has a primitive stone shelter, veld toilet
and hearth. Firewood is for sale on the reserve. Mountain
climbing, hiking, mountain hiking (on certain routes), bird watching and
photography may be enjoyed from the overnight sites.
Oukraal Hiking Trail (two days, 23,5 km)
Enjoy this pristine environment on foot. Starting in succulent
karoo, a moderately strenuous trail takes hikers through a deep, forested ravine
to a fynbos-rich mountain plateau. The Oukraal camp is on this plateau and
offers stunning views of the Swartberg and Outeniqua mountain ranges.
Gamka Mountain Nature Reserve
Private Bag X658
Tel/Fax: +27 44 213 3367
Tel: +27 44 874 2184
Source: Cape Nature Conservation
Article Date: 6 June 2004