Going to Hell

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Even in a vast country like South Africa, finding somewhere truly off the beaten track is difficult, yet there exists a valley that although only 100 kilometres from Oudtshoorn, hadn’t seen a motor vehicle until 1958. The farmers who lived in this remote slice of heaven, called Gamkaskloof, lived cut off from the outside world until the road was built in 1962; the resultant exodus of the younger generations meant that in 1991 the last permanent resident left the valley. To this day the road is still only a dirt road, and it takes around three hours to cover the distance from Oudtshoorn. The scenery is very dramatic, with folded rock strata cut through with canyons and rivers, all within the protected Swartberg Nature Reserve. No-one knows exactly why the valley came to be known as Die Hell (Hell in Afrikaans), but it is an unmerited moniker, as the solitude and beauty of this spot make it well worth taking a trip to Hell! Although it can be done as a daytrip from Oudtshoorn, we’d recommend staying the night in one of the quaint manor houses in the valley to really get the best Hell experience.

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