The Outeniqua Nature Reserve lies near George, Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn, and covers 38 000 hectares. It is fragmented over a series of rugged mountain ranges, which lie parallel to the coast. The reserve supplies the region with fresh water from its catchments.
Outeniqua is derived from that of a Khoisan tribe once found in the mountains and means "they who bear honey". Many of their paintings may be found on secluded rockfaces throughout the reserve.
The reserve lies between the high-rainfall coastal region and the dry Little Karoo. The vegetation in this mountainous area is diverse, and the moist southern slopes are predominantly covered with mountain fynbos.
It is particularly attractive in September and October, when many of the proteas and ericas are in flower. The northern slopes are much drier, and so the vegetation is sparser, blending with hardy, drought resistant Karoo veld.
The Outeniqua mountains are host to a variety of animal species. Mammals include the klipspringer, grey rhebuck, numerous small rodents and the elusive leopard. Birds include large raptors such as the black eagle, as well as smaller typical fynbos birds like the Cape sugarbird.
(With gratitude to CapeNature)