Gourikwa story

Gourikwa Reserve is a private nature reserve close to Gouritzmond, with the primary goal to protect and share one of the most unique pieces of land on the Garden Coast. Previously known as Reins Reserve, we have reverted to the original name of “Gourikwa” in 2015 and have since made major upgrades to the reserve, the accommodation and its wedding facilities. Our indigenous fauna and flora remains protected in close co-operation with Cape Nature as well as regular engagement with neighbouring farms and conservancies such as Duineveld, Ystervarkfontein, Fynbos and Gouritsmond.

Long before Gourikwa had a name, it was home to the indigenous people of South Africa. Archaeologists believe that the Khoikhoi were the builders of the fishtraps along the coast, some dating back 4000 years. These can be found among the boulders beyond the chapel. As settlers moved into the interior during the 1700’s, farms were established along the coast. It had been a very isolated farming community until the late 70’s.

What is now Gourikwa Reserve, was once four different farms. The area was known as Buffelshoek. In 1980, the Atomic Energy Board (AEC) bought up the farms and renamed the area Gouriqua. The aim had been to establish a nuclear energy plant, a project which was eventually abandoned as it proved to be too expensive. During the AEC years, up to 1994, Gouriqua had been a national key point and was heavily guarded. Security fences were erected, and soldiers patrolled the area. Razor wire fencing stretched right into the sea, making the area impenetrable. Any approaches from the sea were guarded by a patrol boat. Even the air space was off limits for fly overs. Today, remnants of the activities carried out during that period, are the big store rooms, the conference centre, harbour walls and rusting steel plates on some of the rocks. The magnificent road infrastructure also dates back to this era. The advent of the tarred road to the gates of Gouriqua, changed the face of farming in the area forever. Access to towns was suddenly easier and faster. It is told that the farmers and fishermen used to be fully self-sustained, living off the sea and the land. Small dairies, wheat, sheep and venison were staples from the land. Water came from freshwater springs, which allowed farmers to grow Lucerne, fruit trees and enormous watermelons. The area is rich in Aloe Ferox, from which the bitter aloe juice was tapped. The fragrant herb buchu (Agagthosma sp), was also harvested, especially for medicinal purposes. From the sea they harvested perlemoen, periwinkles and abundant fish. Thatch reed, Thamnochortus, was another source of income. Used in thatch roofs, the reed is still being harvested today. Wildlife used to be prolific all along the dunes and towards the interior. In recent years, however, poaching has decimated the small antelope like bushbuck and duiker. The sea life also dwindled. When the AEC sold Gouriqua in 1994, it was bought by a German couple, Monica and Gerhard Rein. Their dream was to establish a game reserve and a tourist destination, which they named Rein’s Reserve. The cottages and fisherman’s houses along the sea front were built during their reign. Upon the passing of his wife, Gerhard Rein had the beautiful chapel on the beach front built, aptly named, Monica’s Kapelle.

In 2015 Mr Rein sold the property to the current owners. It was renamed Gourikwa Reserve. During 2016 the reserve, its infrastructure and all its buildings were upgraded, a project that is still continuing. The current owners feel that the word “owner” is misleading. Their vision is to be stewards of a very special parcel of land. Therefore, they advocate a close co-operation with neighbouring farmers and conservancies, such as Duineveld, Fynbos and Gouritsmond. They see these entities, as well as Cape Nature, as essential role players in their own conservation mission.

Conserving our natural environment

Our mission is to play a role in reintroducing wildlife that are indigenous to the Southern Cape area and indigenous large mammals that occurred in the region historically. Many of these species have a conservation status of vulnerable or endangered large mammals. On the reserve we have two large mammal species, namely Cape eland (Tragelaphus oryx) and Cape Mountain zebra (Equus zebra). Cape Mountain zebra were almost extinct in the mid 90’s, but through various conservation measures this species has been able to make a comeback. The vision is to introduce more large mammal species in the near future.

Our diverse floral wonderland

Gourikwa has three distinct vegetation types, namely Canca Limestone fynbos, Albertinia Sand fynbos, and Hartenbos Dune thicket. Different flora occurs in these vegetation types and forms the base of Gourikwa’s rich biodiversity. Gourikwa protects over 450 species of plants- the vast majority being fynbos species. Amongst these floral species there are 10 species that are of conservation concern:

Critically Endangered and Rare:
Gouriqua lobostemon (Lobostemon belliformes)

Endangered:
Droevlakte conebush (Leucadendron galpinii)
Albertinia beardbuchu (Euchaetis albertiniana)

Vulnerable:
Heart buchu (Agathosma muirii)
Sand Capegorse (Aspalathus arenaria)
Mossel Bay Pincushion (Leucospermum praecox)
Limestone Caperose (Cliffortia schlechteri)
Limestone conebush (Leucadendron meridianum)
Limestone protea (Protea obtusifolia)
Stinkleaf Protea (Protea susannae)

Alien Invasive Clearing

Gourikwa is on a mission to consistently clear any sign of alien invasive vegetation. Invasive plants are one of the main threats to floral biodiversity within South Africa. Invasive plants outcompete indigenous vegetation due to the absence of biological control and faster reproductive and growing cycles. Alien plants that are left uncontrolled can infest vast areas and quickly replaces indigenous flora within those areas, subsequently changing the ecosystem structure and creating a loss in biodiversity.

Large game

  • Cape Mountain Zebra
  • Eland
  • Bontebok

Smaller mammals

  • Bushbuck
  • Common duiker
  • Grysbok
  • Porcupine
  • Caracal/Rooikat
  • Cape genet
  • Honey badger
  • Cape Grey mongoose
  • Large grey mongoose
  • Bushpig
  • Scrub hare

These animals do occur on the reserve but chances of seeing them are not that high as most of these species are secretive, nocturnal, and cryptically coloured.

Birds

Gourikwa has a rich diversity of birds that can be found in all the different micro-habitats that form the reserve, ocean, fynbos, thicket, wetland and riverine vegetation. There have been about 130 different bird species recorded on the reserve. We boast with birds endemic to the Western Cape fynbos region, birds like Cape sugarbirds, Orange-breasted sunbirds, Cape grassbirds, the endangered Black harrier, and occasionally the Secretary bird.

Reptiles

Three of the most dangerous snakes in South Africa occur on Gourikwa, namely the Cape cobra (Naja nivea), Puffadder (Bitis arietans), and the Boomslang (Dispholidus typus). Other snakes include molesnakes, skaapstekers, and housesnakes. Other notable reptiles include the Angulate tortoise and the Rock agama, commonly seen around the reserve.

The marine life along Gourikwa’s rugged coastline is exceptionally diverse and fascinating. Visitors can encounter majestic whales and playful dolphins, often seen breaching the waves or gliding through the water. The rocky shores are teeming with a variety of marine life, including vibrant anemones, starfish, and colorful fish darting among the rocks. Notably, the ancient fish traps, crafted by early settlers, are a testament to the rich history of human interaction with the sea. These stone structures offer a glimpse into sustainable fishing practices of the past, adding a historical dimension to the natural beauty of Gourikwa’s coastline.