Where and what is Baviaanskloof?

Where and what is Baviaanskloof? A question frequently asked of us, before we go into any more detail, consider these facts for a moment;

  1. South Africa’s largest wilderness area at approx. 550 000 hectares.
  2. Awarded World Heritage Site status in 2004.
  3. The only area in South Africa to represent 7 of the 8 biomes which occur in South Africa.
  4. 46 mammal species and over 300 bird species.
  5. Fascinating reminders of pioneer farms.
  6. 46 river crossings, sometimes in flood, and sometimes not.
  7. A mere 75km from Port Elizabeth.
  8. Awesome 4×4 routes, or not, just as you please.

The Baviaanskloof, or “Valley of Baboons”, is a valley approximately 75 km long and varies in width and depth. The Baviaanskloof River rises just outside the western edge of the Kloof, flows through the kloof before becoming the Kouga River and finally just as it flows out of the kloof in the east it becomes the Gamtoos River. And the Gamtoos empties into the Indian ocean outside Jeffreys Bay.

The Baviaanskloof valley is flanked by the Kouga mountain range in the south and the Baviaanskloof mountains in the north. The kloof is between the citrus capital of SA in the east and Willowmore / Uniondale in the west.

Now if this still not enough to give you a good idea where this hidden gem lies, it is, as the crow flies, about 40km inland from the N2 garden route. And it is possibly the attraction of the garden route which entices most road trippers to drive past the kloof without even realising what lies beyond the spectacular mountains one can see in the distance.

No fewer than seven of the country’s eight biomes – the highest level of ecosystem recognized by ecologists – are represented in the broader Baviaanskloof area – these are the Fynbos, Subtropical Thicket, Nama Karroo, Succulent Karoo, Grassland, Savanna and Forest biomes.

Now even the most ardent cynic has got to find Baviaanskloof worthy of a second glance.

How to get there; access roads to the kloof are fairly well sign posted from all major routes in the region. Most visitors are likely to approach from the N2, and these routes will direct you to and through Hankey and Patensie, and is a little beyond Patensie that you will reach the entrance gate. You will be required to pay a nominal entrance fee at the Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism gate before proceeding along the only road into and through the kloof.