Goukamma Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area is situated along the scenic Garden Route on the Cape south coast. It lies approximately 40km east of George and 20km west of Knysna.
The nature reserve comprises an area of about 2 500ha, with a coastline of 14km, and the adjacent marine protected area extends seawards for 1,8km.
The nature reserve has extensive dune field with some of the highest vegetated dunes in South Africa. The Goukamma River and estuary, and the unique Groenvlei Lake, which has no in-flowing river and no link to the sea, are also a part of the reserve.
Lying between winter and summer rainfall areas, there is no cold, wet or dry season. Rainfall is higher in spring and autumn than in summer and the weather is unpredictable, with some warm days. Prevailing winds are southeasterly in summer and westerly in winter.
Marine Protected Area
The Marine Protected Area extends for approximately 18km from Buffalo Bay near to Sedgefield, and 1 nautical mile seawards (1,8km).
In this protected area bottle-nosed and common dolphins are frequent visitors to the area and love to frolic in the surf.
Coastal fynbos and coastal forest are the main types of vegetation. The coastal dune forest consists of dense thickets of milkwoods, yellowwoods and candlewoods. Further inland, the fynbos is characterised by erica and restio species and is most attractive in September and October.
Goukamma's diverse habitats support many animal species. Grysbok, bushbuck, bushpig, porcupine and vervet monkeys occur, as well as caracal, water and grey mongoose, honey badger and otter. Groenvlei has seven fish species (two indigenous and five alien). More than 220 species of birds have been recorded including spoonbill, African fish eagle, African marsh harrier, Knysna loerie, three species of kingfisher, the rare African black oystercatcher and occasionally the endangered African penguin.
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 thanks to CapeNature)