The off-road trail in the heart of Gamkaberg is exclusive, yet free to people who are overnighting in the Nature Reserve. Story and picture by Roxanne Reid

The Klein Karoo is off-road country, and the Kannaland 4×4 trail takes you to a remote section of Gamkaberg Nature Reserve, between Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp in the Western Cape. The route travels through vlaktes and foothills of mostly Succulent Karoo and sub-tropical thicket. It’s named after the Kanna, a sprawling succulent that grows here. Main attractions are the constantly changing vistas, from open areas to dense thicket, shale and sandstone koppies.

To preserve the wilderness atmosphere, only three groups are allowed on the trail at a time. The 32km route takes about five hours from the Gamkaberg visitor centre. You leave the reserve and drive 30km outside the park before entering another section through a locked gate. There’s a shorter 20km version if you’re pushed for time. Experienced mountain bikers can tackle it on their bikes.

There are clear route markers and you get a route map, so it would be hard to get lost. The grade 3 route isn’t technical, but you need some off-road knowledge, a high clearance 4×4 vehicle and low range. There are steep sections, but the surface is stable. Stay on the track.

There are two picnic or braai spots – Dou Karoo about halfway, and Batis (with an open-air long drop) towards the end. Carry your own braai wood; you may not collect wood on the reserve. There’s no water along the way so take your own, and no bins so take a bag to remove all your rubbish.

The reserve is green all year round. Look for leopard, honey badger or aardwolf tracks. You might spot steenbok, klipspringer or kudu. It’s a good place for Karoo endemic birds, and a flower-lover’s paradise crawling with succulents and other intriguing plants. Some of these attractions are highlighted in the info-pack and map you get before setting out.

The trail is open at no extra cost only to people who are overnighting at Gamkaberg.

Bookings: or +27 (0)21 483 0190