Goukamma Nature Reserve is an exceptional reserve located in Wilderness, approximately 40km east of George and 15km west of Knysna, next to Wilderness National Park on the Western Cape’s southern coast. Comprising an area of 2500 hectares with a coastline of 14km, the reserve incorporates a long beach, coastal dune forests, the Goukamma River and Estuary, Groenvlei Lake, and some of the highest vegetated dunes in South Africa.
Wildlife, Birds, and Fish
Goukamma’s diverse habitat supports plenty of wildlife such as grysbok, bushbuck, bushpig, porcupine, vervet monkey, caracal, mongoose, honey badger, and otters. There are 7 species of fish, 2 of which are indigenous and 5 of which are alien. Birders will enjoy spotting over 200 species of birds such as the spoonbill, African fish eagle, Knysna loerie, and the rare African black oystercatcher.
Goukamma is situated between the winter and summer rainfall areas. There is no cold, rainy, or dry season, although the rainfall is higher in spring and autumn.
Marine Protected Area
The Marine Protected Area stretches for approximately 18km from Buffalo Bay towards Sedgefield, and 1,8km seawards. Only angling with a rod and line from the shore is allowed, and no bait organisms or shellfish may be removed or disturbed within the Goukamma Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area. Ski-boat fishing or spear fishing is not permitted. Licences for angling are obtainable from post offices.
Visitors have a choice of 4 different day trails. A horse-riding trail is available for riders who bring their own horses. Bookings are not necessary, but hikers must obtain a permit at the reserve on arrival.
- Beach walk (14 km, 4 hours): Arrange transport at Platbank, or an out and back walk.
Inaccessible during high spring tide.
- Circular route (8 km, 2-3 hours): Hike along a fynbos ridge with views of the coast, upriver and estuary. The route returns via a climax milkwood forest.
- Goukamma to Groenvlei (16 km, 4-5 hours): The route stretches over the vegetated dunes. Arrange transport at Groenvlei.
- Lake walk: a short flat walk along Groenvlei's southern shoreline in indigenous forest and lake fringe vegetation.