Day Trip to The Hel, Gamkaskloof, Oudtshoorn
If you are spending any time in Oudtshoorn, then spoil yourself and take one of the best day trips South Africa has to offer – a trip to The Hel in the Gamkaskloof Nature Reserve.
The Gamkaskloof is situated in an isolated valley deep in the Swartberg Mountains and is steeped in history. For more than a century it was home to a self-sufficient farming community. Visitors can experience its unique cultural heritage while staying over in one of the restored houses.
If you enjoy unspoiled nature, spectacular scenery, birds, fynbos and being far from the madding crowd, this trip is a must. In spring and early summer, the fynbos is in flower, and spotting Cape sugarbirds or Orange breasted sunbirds is easy.
The trip from the top of the Swartberg Pass is about 100 km in total and takes about 5 hours. The keen photographer will take longer. The trip from Oudtshoorn to the turnoff at top of the pass and back is about two hours. The trip from Prince Albert to the turnoff and back is slightly less. This trip is ideally suited to an SUV as the rocky sections and water pools need a high road clearance and will be difficult for cars.
Take your picnic for the day, which you can enjoy anywhere along the road, or in The Hel itself. The local shop at The Hel only supplies tea, coffee or cooldrink unless you phone a couple of days ahead and place an order for lunch or dinner. The owners of the shop are descendants of the original farmers and have accommodation in white linen cottages. (023 541 1107) OR Website.
Accommodation is also available in re-furbished original cottages or campsites managed by Cape Nature. Reservations Office or 0861 CAPENATURE (227 362 8873).
There is an interpretive day hike from the campsite, of about 6km, explaining the very interesting history, fauna and flora.
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