The Outeniqua Mountains Range is a rugged nearly impenetrable barrier separating the lush green Garden Route from the barren semi-desert landscape of the Little Karoo.
In 1813 settlers crossed over these mountains by ox-wagon via the Cradock Pass. What possessed these early pioneers to leave the temperate climate of the coastal plains for the inhospitable arid lands of the Klein Karoo seems something of a mystery.
The moist gentle southern slopes of the Outeniqua are predominantly covered with mountain fynbos. However, once on the leeward side of the mountain the vegetation suddenly changes to Karoo veld, mainly consisting of succulents and other hardy plants. The slopes on the northern side are much steeper and rockier.
Entrance to the Outeniqua Nature Reserve is free, but all visitors are asked to register at the Witfontein office.
There are several good but generally difficult trails that invite the intrepid hiker to explore this mountainous terrain.
The 12 km Cradock Pass Day Trail is a challenging 5 hour hike that retraces the original 1813 ox-wagon trail taken by early settlers of the Klein Karoo.
The George Peak Hike is appx 17 km and will take the experienced hiker about 7 hours. This is a very strenuous route but hikers will be rewarded with a fabulous view across George.
The 17 km Cradock Peak Hike is also very difficult. One should allow at least 6 hours. Breathtaking views from the top offer a panoramic view across much of the Garden Route as well as the Klein Karoo.
ATTRACTIONS & ACTIVITIES AT OUTENIQUA NATURE RESERVE:
SUMMARY OF WILDLIFE & FLORA:
Mammals: klipspringer, grey rhebuck
Birdlife: black eagle, Cape sugarbird
Vegetation: mountain fynbos, Karoo veld
DIRECTIONS TO OUTENIQUA NATURE RESERVE:
- from George follow the N12 4 km towards Oudtshoorn
- turn right toward Witfontein
- turn right again to the park gates
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