The Goegap Nature Reserve was named by the Nama people for the reed-filled water spring that quenched their thirst. This 7000-hectare nature reserve is situated on the eastern side of the beautiful, rocky and serene town of Springbok. It supports more than 600 different indigenous plant species, close to 50 mammals and almost 100 bird species.
Thousands of tourists from around the country and overseas flock to Goegap Nature Reserve every year for its variety of plants and rare species. The months of August and September are the best times to visit, as it is the flower season and various winged species come out to enjoy the Karoo sun.
In ancient times, the Nama people were entirely dependent on the fountain of water in this arid biodiversity hot spot where semi-desert birds, animals and the wild Karoo flowers flourish.
Maxie Jonk, the manager of the Goegap Nature Reserve, who has been at the helm for eight years, says the reserve offers “A different world every springtime. I have been here since 2006 and each flower season is a surprise package. No one spring is similar to the other. Among the flower species that carpet the arid Namaqualand are the orange Gazanias, emblematic in the region.”
Jonk elaborated, “Tourists and visitors expect the next spring to be orange but it often changes into a thick carpet of snow white flowers. The following spring the veld can be dominated by the Namaqualand daisies. This kind of contradiction is attributed to the humidity in the province and the amount of rain in that particular year. The tourists do not have a problem with that as they like the different springs and the unpredictable nature of the reserve itself.”
At Goegap Nature Reserve, bird enthusiasts can enjoy the sight of the Cape Eagle-owl (Bubo capensis), the Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis), the Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), the legendary Ludwig’s Bustard, and the Karoo Eremomela (Eremomela gregalis).
One of the natural draw cards of this reserve is the characteristic granite domes and peaks of the region that contrast with the sandy plain where Springbok, Gemsbok and Hantam Zebra graze. The reserve is also home to the Hester Malan Wild Flower Garden that showcases most of Namaqualand’s succulents and features a rock garden. This alone draws scores of flower enthusiasts and madkes for one-of-a-kind tourism at the reserve. This succulent garden is also the starting point to a 17km tourist loop, which visitors can drive to explore a cross section of the reserve’s habitat.
In addition to its flowers, the immaculately maintained reserve is a mere 15km away from the beautiful Springbok which offers some of the best local foods to its legion of visitors from a variety of communities . It is almost a rule that you cannot leave the region until you have eaten the potjiekos.
The reserve also offers hikes to those who visit. The Myers hiking trail allows hikers to see the variety of wildlife on foot. The reserve also has an annual contest for mountain bikers, hikers and 4X4 enthusiasts that is hotly contested, called the Goegap Mountain Bike Challenge.
As Jonk puts it: “Whatever your interest, this area is absolutely fantastic. I don’t think anybody can come here and not be touched by what they see. And as for the stargazing and the full moon, I can assure all visitors they have never experienced anything like it.”