They say coastal societies get taken in by small distractions, as those of the deserts do by great thoughts. At Goukamma, one finds a little of both. Here there is a forest, a lake, a river, an estuary, a beach, dunes, there are winds, mists, salt, and yet everywhere there are places of peculiar quietness.
Goukamma is a beautiful stretch of estuary named from the Khoisan word for ‘Dark Waters’. Groenvlei, on the other hand, is a serene and mysterious freshwater lake. It has no in-flowing river and apparently no link to the sea. Between these two extremes exists a sweep of vegetated fossil dunes that over millennia have turned to stone. They are of the highest in the country. Parts are covered in ancient milkwood and coastal forests, parts in fynbos. They creep down to 14km of wild beach and ragged rocks, the length of which is a marine protected area.
Goukamma has six self-catering units. All are equipped with stove/hob, fridge/freezer, pots, pans, crockery and cutlery. Bedding can be supplied at an additional fee.
Obviously, in such diverse habitats, life abounds – birds, in particular, but also grysbok, bushbuck, bushpig, porcupine, caracal, mongoose, honey badger and otter. Inshore along the coast one can see dolphins year round and southern right whales from about August to December. Goukamma has four day hikes, the longest being 16km.
Horseriders are also welcome to bring their horses to the reserve. Bass fishing on Groenvlei is excellent, as is fishing along the coast and in the Goukamma River (freshwater angling licences are obtainable from the reserve, and marine licences from any post office). Picnicking, swimming, sailing and canoeing are also possible at Goukamma, where canoes can be hired.