The Camdeboo National Park is located on the southern foothills of the Sneeuberg Mountain range in the Eastern Cape. Currently spanning across 20 000 hectares of land, the park incorporates the town of Graaff-Reinet at its centre, as well as the Nqweba Dam in the North West and the Camdeboo escarpment in the east. Most of the rock formations found within the nature reserve are made up of mudstone, sandstone and siltstone with post-Karoo dolerite protrusions occurring in some areas.
The San people once lived in the mountains within the reserve and there are a number of rock paintings both within and on the outskirts of the reserve. A number of hand axes, blades and scrapers have also been found indicating that the area was inhabited throughout the Stone Age. The park was first established as the Karoo Nature Reserve in 1976 and was later renamed and transferred across as a South African National Park in October 2005.
Most of south-facing slopes of the nature reserve are covered in Camdeboo escarpment thicket and many of the plants found in the area are succulents, including the pork bush and spekboom. Near the dam one will find sweet thorn also known as the Acacia Karroo, and the orange-red of the tall bitter aloe can be seen dotted across the landscape.
After heavy hunting in the early 20th century, the reserve was repopulated and today 43 species of mammals can be found in it including Savanna Buffalo, Common Eland, Cape Mountain Zebra and Greater Kudu. Across the open flats one might see a Steenbok, while Klipspringer are known to stick to the high rugged areas.
Aside from game-viewing visitors can also look forward to seeing a number of beautiful birds, as the national park is home to over 225 species of birds. Ostriches are regularly seen on in the flat regions and Kori Bustards, Secretary Birds and a good mix of Raptors can also be spotted. When the dam holds water at least 50 of these species are found in the area including the African Fish Eagle. The dam draws many birds from far and wide and it is a meeting place for species that inhabit the dry, arid Karoo and the Eastern Cape thicket.
What may come as a surprise is that the nature park has only 6 species of snakes in it, including the Puff Adder and the Cape Cobra. Rock Monitor Lizards are regularly seen and at the Valley of Desolation viewpoint visitors may also spot Cape Crag Lizards and Western Rock Skinks. The male South Rock Agamas can be easily identified by the distinctive blue colour their heads turn during mating season.