A Short History of the Reserve

For more than a century, different parts of the Reserve were extensively used for stock farming, mainly Merino sheep. Currently, it extends near 14 000 hectares, but it was even larger before the Gamkapoort Dam was built (1967 – 1969) on the eastern side of the property.

Although many different owners farmed with livestock until approximately 1970, only small-scale herding has taken place since, so the Reserve has enjoyed a lengthy period of natural rehabilitation.

There were four main farmsteads on the present Reserve land and there are still remnants of old stone structures used by shepherds of the stock-farmers of the past. There are also a number of old graves from the mid-19th century.

An interesting piece of history surrounds the ‘Wagon Route to Beaufort.’ Almost half of the trail follows a historic wagon/horse route inland and was in use in the early 1800s. It was used until about 1862 when the current Bosluiskloof Pass was built, shortly after the road through Seweweekspoort was completed. The new, much more accessible road, changed the lives of the many pioneer settlers who were already occupying large areas inland. The road today is a cul-de-sac, ending at the Reserve’s eastern end (at the Gamkapoort Dam). It was the link to Prince Albert and Beaufort, now Beaufort West.

It is also interesting to note that a whole century went past before a road was eventually built into the adjacent ‘Hell’/Gamkaskloof in 1962, adding to the mystery of the people who preferred to stay on there and who had to keep on traversing on foot and by donkey. One can assume that there was contact between the pioneers in the Hell and those who stayed on at Bosch Luys Kloof.