Outeniqua is a reserve of mountain passes and hiking trails. It offers the visitor a tranquil break from the rigours of daily life with a choice of activities from short rambles to more strenuous hiking routes and summit treks. The name Outeniqua is derived from that of the Khoisan tribe, the Attaqua, once resident here – it means “they who bear honey”. The reserve lies between the high rainfall coastal region and the dry Little Karoo. The vegetation of this mountainous area is diverse. The moist southern slopes are predominantly covered with mountain fynbos, though wonderful pockets of cool, indigenous forest also occur in some of the kloofs (gorges). The area is particularly attractive in September and October, when many of the proteas and ericas are in flower. The northern slopes are much drier, and accordingly the vegetation is sparser, blending with hardy, drought-resistant Karoo veld that takes over and runs inland to the horizon.
No less than five passes cross the reserve’s 100km length. But of these, only the Outeniqua and the Robinson passes are tarred. The passes each have a hike or two associated with them – ranging from day hikes to overnight hikes. There are also five other hiking routes to choose from in the reserve. Permits are required for all activities in the Outeniquas and are available at the reserve office, as are maps of all the trails.