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National Parks & Reserves

Goukamma Nature Reserve

Goukamma Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area, situated on the Garden Route between Sedgefield and Knysna, has a diverse array of fascinating habitats and an abundance of smaller wildlife, birds, fish and other recreational activities like hikes, canoeing and accommodation.

 
TYPE: NATURE RESERVE
HOURS: Everyday
WHERE: Buffalo Bay
 

During peak seasons you will have to pay R40 per adult and R20 for kids to enter which is definitely worth paying. Once inside, you can park on the side of the road and set up your picnic on one of the benches under the trees. There are also braai (BBQ) facilities here; each one nestled next to a tree for shade.

The reserve covers 2 500 hectares of dense coastal forest, including milkwood, yellowwood and candlewood trees. It protects the charming vervet monkey, bushbuck and bushpig, as well as porcupine, mongoose, honey badger and grysbok. This is a popular choice for keen birders, as the Goukamma River and estuary and the Groenvlei Lake provide a welcoming habitat for more than 220 bird species, including the rare African black oystercatcher. There are two indigenous and four alien species of fish found in the Groenvlei Lake. Visitors enjoy the sight of the magnificent southern right whales between June and November. Bottle-nosed and humpback dolphins play in the waves throughout the year.

A great time to visit is in September/October when the first spring rains create splashes of bright spring flowers amid the fynbos. This is a year-round destination, as it falls between the Cape’s summer and winter rainfall seasons.

Goukamma also borders Buffalo Valley – a conservation area overlooking the Goukamma River which offers safe seclusion in three fully-equipped self-catering timber lodges.

 

Hiking & Walking Trails

The six hiking trails vary in duration and required fitness levels. Each route has stunning scenery, with many bird-watching opportunities along the way.

Hiking trails

A variety of hiking trails are offered in this beautiful reserve ranging from two to six hours. Take plenty of water and a sense of adventure with you!

Help us protect nature

No camping or caravanning/no bait collection/no spear fishing/no fires on the beach/no motorbikes.

Permits

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.
Blombos Route

Trail distance: 15km
Estimated time: 6 hours

Popular with birders, the trail is 15km in length, but can be split into two shorter circular routes: the 13.5km Porcupine Trail (four to five hours) and the circular 6.5km Bushpig Trail (two to three hours). Hikers begin their route by crossing a river on a self-hauled ferry, then head off into the Milkwood forest before making their choice to head along the dunes, stay in the forest or traverse the entire reserve. The full Blombos Route should take six hours to complete.

Galjoen Trail

Trail distance: 12km
Estimated time: 4 hours

Hikers need to consult tide tables before heading off on this seaboard hike to Platbank, as it is inaccessible during spring high tide. Return transport should be arranged before departing or hikers will need to walk back.

Cape Clawless Otter Trail

Trail distance: 6.5km
Estimated time: 2–3 hours

This hike takes visitors alongside the southern shoreline of Groenvlei Lake. Hikers will pass through indigenous forest of milkwood trees and along the shores of the beautiful lake.

Buffalo Bay Trail

Trail distance: 4.2km
Estimated time: 2 hours

This is a circular or open-ended trail that passes through the holiday town of Buffalo Bay, into the indigenous forest and along the coastline. With great sea views all along the trail, this is a popular route for whale watching from June to November each year.

How to get there

From Cape Town: Take the N2 highway and travel for about 500km south towards George. Roughly 40km past George and between the towns of Sedgefield and Knysna, take the turn-off to Buffalo Bay. Follow this road for 8km and then turn right (towards the river) and into the reserve.

GPS: 34 4 6.73 S 22 56 52.29 E

Office hours: 07:30–16:00

Tel: +27 (0)44 383 0042

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More in this category: « The Featherbed Eco Experience