By Tom · Published Nov. 1st, 2021 · Updated Nov. 24th, 2022
This hike in Gamkaberg Nature Reserve takes you into the beautiful Tierkloof gorge to the Overhang and back. It also incorporates the the Pied Barbet trail with interesting interpretive boards on the valley floor and hillside in front of the gorge.
Gamkaberg Nature Reserve is in the Klein Karoo. The closest towns are Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn and the reserve is almost 5 hours and 400km from Cape Town. We were staying in Calitzdorp the night before. Check the directions to the reserve. This hike starts at the reserve office where you need to get a permit. If you don’t have a car, check out the options for car hire* from Cape Town.
Gamkaberg & Tierkloof Hiking Trail
Get the route by downloading the .gpx or .kml file below. For navigation with Maps.me on your mobile phone, simply download the .kml file and open to add it to the Maps.me bookmarks.
Tips for Tierkloof Overhang Hike
- This hike is in the Cape Nature Gamkaberg Nature Reserve.
- A map of the reserve can be found here.
- There is a ZAR 50 fee for adults and ZAR 30 for children, but it is free with a Wild Card.
- Get your permit at the reserve office or make a booking via the Cape Nature Central Reservations office.
- Sunhat, sunscreen and water are needed in sunny weather.
- The trail is well-indicated and clear.
- For navigation on this hike you can use the map provided by the park in combination with the offline maps app Maps.me.
- Of you like hiking, check out our South Africa Hiking Guide.
The day before we had to divert our plans to camp in Die Hel because of very heavy rains. The roads literally washed away. Instead of that plan, we headed to Gamkaberg in the morning after the rains subsided. It was a Monday in March 2021.
The road to Gamkaberg Nature Reserve is gravel and is in general ok, especially with our Defender. As long as you have a bit of ground clearance, you should easily make it.
Pied Barbet Trail
The first part of the hike is on the valley floor. There are many trail direction signs along the way. The Pied Barbet, Mousebird and Tierkloof trails initially point in the same direction. There are quite a few interpretation boards along the Pied Barbet trail. Apparently, until the 1850s lions used to roam this area and the Klein Karoo.
We made our way over the rock-lined trail through the shrubs and bushes. After about 2 kilometres you reach the entrance to the Tierkloof gorge, where a sign points towards the gorge and the way back.
Soon the cliffs alongside the gorge become visible. Compared to the valley floor, the Tierkloof gorge is absolutely spectacular. The orange rocks were lit nicely in the morning light. There is a bench here for a rest and you may turn around if you just wanted a quick peak into the gorge.
We continued our way into Tierkloof. You steadily climb through reeds, bushes and over rocky paths. There are yellow paw paint markers on some rocks directing you. However, we also saw some real paws in the mud. It was quite a fresh spoor. A leopard?
At some point there is a narrow passage, like a gate of orange rock, quite impressive.
The overhang is about 7km from the start, and to get there you have to ascent a little path on the right side of the gorge for 35m, lined with aloes. It is signed well. The views from the overhang are rather good, and it also provides nice shade for a break.
The way back from the overhang is unfortunately the same until the end of the gorge. From there, the Pied Barbet trail takes you up the hillside next to the valley floor. Although not very impressive, there is some rock art to the left just as you are leaving the gorge.
On this section of the Pied Barbet we passed the stone foundation of an old dwelling or shelter used by early herders. They came here for fresh water from the Tierkloof to water their livestock. Also, a collection of interesting fossils is placed along the path that winds its way through Spekboom bushes.
Not far from the office we came across a labyrinth laid out with rocks. It is meant as a walking meditation. There is also a nice shade shelter with interesting boards on the Khoi and San people, as well as about the Gamkaberg World Heritage Site.
Just past the labyrinth are the reserve office and the car park. We had a quick lunch on one of the benches near the reserve office and after that continued our journey of the Klein Karoo towards Cango Caves.