Located close to the Garden Route town of George and easily accessible from Mossel Bay, Knysna and Oudtshoorn, the Outeniqua Nature Reserve is about a five-hour drive from Cape Town. Spanning 38 000 hectares, the reserve encompasses the mountain ranges that fall between the coast and the semi-arid Klein Karoo. The primary attraction here is the opportunity to traverse the five mountain passes that fall within the reserve and explore the area’s rich diversity on the walking and hiking trails.
The name Outeniqua is believed to mean “those who bear honey” and is ascribed to the San and Khoi people who once inhabited the mountains. Their rock paintings are found throughout the reserve, depicting animals, hunters and honeycombs. The rugged mountains have long posed a barrier into the Klein Karoo and early settlers in the late 1600s used to follow herds of elephants to find easier ways through the area. The first pass, the Cradock Pass, was built in 1813 but was too steep for many to climb with ox-wagons. The Montagu Pass built in the mid-1800s eventually proved a safer and quicker option. This is a popular walking and hiking destination. Unfortunately, there is no overnight accommodation.