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 shales.
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