Goegap Nature Reserve

Please contact the Marketing Officer for any information: Ms Elmarie Vantura-April email : goegapnr@gmail.com cell : 073 350 1856

Tel:   027 7189906
Fax:  027 7189907

P.Bag X1, SPRINGBOK, 8240

Reserve Manager - 082 729 4177
Accommodation Manager - 073 350 1856
Marketing Officer:Ms Elmarie Vantura-April
email: goegapnr@gmail.com
cell:073 350 1856

Goegap Nature Reserve is located 15km south east from the town Springbok, Namaqualand, in the Northern Cape Province. It falls within the Succulent-Karoo Biome which consists mainly of a coastal belt of approximately 100km to 150km wide. The landscape of the Succulent-Karoo Biome, as characterised by the coastal platform, the Knersvlakte north of Van Rhynsdorp and the Tankwa Karoo that is drained from the Tankwa River and its tributaries, is generally flat or evenly raised. In harsh contrast with this there are the jagged mountains of the Richtersveld and northern Namaqualand, where the biome is split by the Orange River.

The temperature for the area ranges from between -2,8°C in July to 39,3°C in January/February. According to the historical weather data from the O'Kiep weather station, the average maximum temperature is 24,3°C and the minimum temperature, 10,3°C. The rainfall varies, as the reserve is situated partially in the summer rainfall area and partially in the winter rainfall area. Within the reserve the rainfall varies between 100 and 300mm per year. According to Schulze (1965) the rainfall in this area has an unpredictability of 40%, which is also found in Israel, for instance.

Ecologically Goegap Nature Reserve is quite important as it is an example of the two components of the Succulent-Karoo biome, each geographically and floristically different. Socio-economically the Reserve plays an important role during the tourist season, providing activities and accommodation to visitors to the region. Approximately 13 000 people visit Goegap Nature Reserve during the annual flower season, ranging from 3 weeks to 3 months.

Originally one of the goals of the reserve was to establish a wild flower garden. This was actualised in the establishment of the Hester Malan Wild Flower garden, named after the wife of Dr Nico Malan, Administrator of the Cape of Good Hope at the time. When the reserve expanded, it was then renamed to “Goegap”, the Nama word for “reed water”, indicating the presence of water.


The Succulent-Karoo Biome is essentially limited to those areas with mainly winter rainfall and summer aridity. The rains are unpredictable and rarely exceed 250mm over most of the area. According to Hilton-Taylor, 1996, the Succulent-Karoo Biome probably carries the richest arid flora in the world and emerges as having the highest regional diversity. Based on species numbers, this region is the third richest floristic region in Southern Africa (after the Cape Floristic and Maputaland-Pondoland Regions).

Approximately 40% of the worlds’ 10 000 succulent species are found in this region. Goegap Nature Reserve falls into the Succulent Karoo Region (SKR) for Floristic Endemism in Southern Africa and is recognised as an important centre of plant diversity and endemism in Africa. It is also considered as one of the earth’s “hotspots” – geographical areas which contain the world’s greatest plant and animal diversity (Mittermeier et al. 2000). This region is the world’s only entirely arid hotspot, and probably carries the richest arid flora in the world.

Within the Succulent-Karoo Biome, two of the biophysiographycal regions are found on the reserve. Both of these regions are geographically and floristically diverse and support a wide variety of species. The part of the reserve that falls within the Namaqualand Rocky Hills receive winter rainfall, whereas the portion of the reserve that falls within the Bushman land area, receives summer rainfall. As indicated by the name, Succulent Karoo, most plant species are made up of low growing perennial shrubs that have succulent leaves, branches and stems. Following good rains, annuals and geophytes may provide mass flowering displays.

Families rich in endemics/near-endemics are: Amaryllidaceae, Asclepiadaceae, Asteraceae, Crassulaceae, Eriopermaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Mesembryanthemaceae and Zygophyllaceae. Large populations of quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma) can be seen in their natural state on the reserve throughout the year. Examples of the maidens quiver tree (Aloe ramossisima), as well as the endangered bastard quiver tree (Aloe pillansi), can also be seen on the reserve.

As mentioned, a portion of Goegap borders the Bushmanland Grasveld component of which there are no areas under any form of protection and can therefore act as a transition area to this component by means of Stewardship Programs with surrounding landowners. One of the aims of the Department of Environment and Nature Conservation is to protect and conserve the biodiversity and the ecological systems of the area.

The fauna of the reserve is represented by invertebrates and vertebrates, with the invertebrate component being largely unstudied. There are 37 terrestrial invertebrate families represented on Goegap with the largest being the Anthophoridae, Apidae, Colletidae, Fideliidae, Halictidae, Megachilidae and Melittidae (Bee) families with 270 species.

Counts of birds on Goegap showed that bird diversity is as high as 96 species, including ostrich (Struthio camelus) that were re-introduced from Port Nolloth and Kleinzee. There is only 1 exotic species, namely the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) that is found on the reserve. One of the species, the martial eagle (Polymaetus bellicosus) is listed as threatened in the South African Red Data Book. Other species include Ludwig’s bustard (Neotis ludwigii), Kori bustard (Neotis kori), Cape eagle owl (Bubo capensis), Verreaux’s eagle (Aquila verreauxii) and the endemic cinnamon- breasted warbler (Euryptila subcinnamomea).

Goegap also supports numerous mammal species (46), amongst which are such unusual species as the straw-coloured fruit bat (Eidolon helvum) and the beautiful spectacled dormouse (Graphiurus ocularis). The very elusive and shy leopard (Panthera pardus) is a periodic visitor to the reserve.

Reptile species (38) include black spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis woodi), common barking gecko (Ptenopus garrulous maculatus), and the colourful Southern rock agama (Agama atra atra). There is 1 exotic species on the reserve i.e. the leopard tortoise (Geochlone pardalis). Amphibians are represented by 3 species, namely, Karoo toad (Bufo gariepensis), Cape river frog (Rana fuscigula) and the Namaqua caco (Cacostrernum namaquensis). There is one seasonal river, the Droëdap River, that originates in the reserve and this later joins with the Buffels River, also a seasonal river, that embougues into the Atlantic Ocean at Kleinzee.

Originally (pre-history excluded) the first peoples to the area could be seen as the Khoi-San, the Nama-Hottentot and the Mountain Damara, e.g. people speaking the Nama languages. These people were hunters and semi-nomadic pastoralists. They used the area for purposes of habitation, cultural and religious practices, grazing, cultivation, hunting, and exploitation of natural resources. The Bushmen or Khoi-San had possibly been living in the area at least 300 years before the first European had landed at the Cape. The first visits to the Cape by the Nama people were made in 1681.

Simon van der Stel’s journey to Namaqualand in search of copper in 1685 is well documented. During 1836 Sir James Alexander travelled through the area, as a follow-up to the copper exploration of Van der Stel. In 1850, the farm Melkboschkuil in the “Klein Koperberge” was obtained by the 7 Cloete brothers, after which it changed hands a number of times. Copper was mined at great length and during this period to the 1930’s, trees were eradicated to a large extent, especially Pappea capensis, Acacia karroo and Ficus cordata, for firewood at the mines. During the period 1937 to 1942 it was managed by the O’Kiep Copper Mining Company (OCC).

During 1966 the OCC donated a portion of the farm Melkboschkuil to the Provincial Administration of the Cape of Good Hope. In 1988 the Provincial Administration purchased the farm Karéhoutekloof and the Namaqualand Wild Flower Reserve, Hester Malan, was opened in honour of the then Administration of the Cape of Good Hope, Dr Nico Malan’s, wife.
A number of activities are on offer to the visitor, ranging from hiking (5 trails ranging from 4 – 12km's), mountain biking trail (visitors to supply own bikes), a very interesting 4x4 trail (60km) and a standard vehicle route (13km's) is accessible to all types of vehicles. In addition one may bring your own horses and ride on the reserve. The Hester Malan Wild Flower Garden at the information centre consists of a succulent display and an interesting rock garden. This garden is well known internationally and every year international researchers visit the reserve to experience the flowering succulents. Succulents, seeds and other mementos are for sale during the tourist season.

Accommodation is in the process of being upgraded and will provide the following facilities:

  • 2 Self-catering fully equipped Guesthouses (solar powered) (6 people per house max)
  • Group camp (solar powered) 16 people
  • Trails camp (solar powered) 10 people
  • 4 Rustic Bush huts (no electricity – gas geysers in ablution facilities) (4 people per hut max)
  • 7 Camping sites (no electricity – gas geysers in ablution facilities) (6 people per site max)
In addition a 150 person Conference Facility is currently under construction.
A nominal entrance fee is charged per person upon entry to the reserve. Current fees:
Entrance fee: R15/person (children under the age of 6 free of charge)
4x4 Route: R60/vehicle (own vehicle)
The Department was able to acquire an additional 8 000 ha through the Leslie Hill Succulent Karoo Trust and the WWF South Africa during 2008, to be incorporated into Goegap Nature Reserve. These properties fall within the Bushman land Grassveld component of which there are no areas under official protection. WWF South Africa holds the title for the properties purchased and has granted a long-term lease agreement to the Department to manage the area as part of Goegap Nature Reserve. This brings the total number of hectares of Goegap Nature Reserve to 22 832ha. Negotiations for additional properties are currently being investigated.

Funding to the WWF South Africa for purposes of land acquisition in order to secure plant diversity has been made possible by the Leslie Hill Succulent Karoo Trust. They have played a pivotal role in the expansion of statutory reserves within the Succulent Karoo. During the past 10 years, since their inception, the formal reserve network within the Succulent Karoo has expanded to 3.6% of the total area of the biome, due to purchases made by them.

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