Goegap – the Watering Hole

Riding the reserve during the flower season will not take away your breath away just from the exercise, but mostly because of the majestic display of flowers.  Originally the reserve was established as the Hester Malan Wildflower Garden in 1966 when the Okiep Mining Company donated a portion of the farm Melkboschkuil for the establishment of a wildflower reserve.  Later, the farm Karéhoutekloof was bought by Cape Nature and added to the reserve and then named Goegap, the Nama word for watering hole or reed water.

This area has a rich and varied human history with the first people being the Khoi-San who were hunters and semi-nomadic pastoralists in the area.  Close to the visitor centre a rock shelter with stone walling across the entrance and ceiling blackened by fires dating as far back as the 17th century can be found while the remains of several “veeposte” are scattered throughout the reserve which utilized natural rock formations and stone walls as shelter from prevailing winds and weather.

With granite peaks and sandy plains, Goegap Nature Reserve might appear barren, dry and devoid of life outside the flower season, but should you take a closer look you will find the area is awash with interesting life forms. Unfortunately, during the 1930’s period of copper mining, most of indigenous trees were eradicated for firewood, but today the reserve boasts with over 600 plant species while over 40% of the world’s succulents can be found in this area.  Apart from the endangered Hartman’s Zebra and Aardwolf, 45 other mammals, 38 reptiles and 94 bird species call this reserve home.

Come springtime after some good winter rain and the whole area explodes into this kaleidoscope of colours and transforming the semi-desert into a wonderland.  This display can last anything from 3 weeks to 3 months.


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