One of South Africa's World Heritage Sites, a visit to Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area in the Eastern Cape offers nature lover's the opportunity of exploring a massive landscape with rugged mountainous regions, deep jagged gorges and abundant wildlife.
Baviaanskloof is located just over 3 hours drive, 170 kilometres (107 miles) from Port Elizabeth along the N2 and 281 kilometres (174 miles), just short of 3 hours' drive from Knysna on the Western Cape's Garden Route.
The gravel road, the R332, that runs through Baviaanskloof is very steep and narrow and is known to be treacherous at times, when river flooding and bad weather wash away sections of the route. While the distance from the eastern entrance; Komodomo to Willowmore in the west is only just over 200 kilometres (124 miles), visitors are advised to leave at least 6 to 8 hours of travel time as the going is slow and the road surface can be poor. Visitors are advised to always check the road conditions prior to entering the reserve and a 4X4 is generally advisable.
The closest international airport is Cape Town International Airport. From Cape Town International visitors can take a connecting flight to Port Elizabeth domestic airport.
The sheer size of Baviaanskloof combined with the minimal human intervention within the reserve makes this wilderness park an exceptional place to visit for all nature lovers. Spectacular mountain scenery, a rich diversity of plant, bird and mammal life and the freedom for visitors to navigate freely through the area, make Baviaanskloof Wilderness area a raw and unique wilderness safari experience.
Baviaanskloof is renowned for its exceptional hiking and 4X4 trails as well as superb mountain biking opportunities. Game viewing, bird watching and star gazing provide hours of endless activity in this picturesque reserve.
There are a number of Baviaanskloof accommodation options including guest houses, Bed & Breakfasts and self-catering cottages in the towns just outside the wilderness region. Within the reserve visitors can choose to stay at Geelhoutbos where 5 equipped bungalows each offer space for 6 people to sleep. There is also an overnight hiker's cottage at Doornkraal and camping facilities in a number of locations and at the Komodomo entrance. Visitors with hiking permits can camp wherever they choose within the reserve. A number of the farms that make up the wilderness area also offer cottages where visitors can stay.
Space, tranquillity and peace are encapsulated within the beautiful landscape of the Baviaanskloof Wilderness area. Known as the Valley of the Baboons due to the large number of primates found in the area, Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area is South Africa's third largest nature reserve. The route through the valley follows the river at most points, twisting and turning along a narrow pathway while providing ever-changing and awe-inspiring views. Indigenous forest, mountainous streams and abundant wildlife make every turn in the road a new adventure to be explored.
Visitors should not be deceived by what looks like a relatively simple drive and a 4X4 is generally recommended when attempting the route. If the challenge of the drive and the adrenalin that follows is not sufficient a pull to visit the area, the lack of human intervention has resulted in a feeling of truly wild and wondrously untouched countryside which all nature lovers will bask in. Visitors do not have to be confined to their vehicles and are able to also enjoy the region on foot along one of the abundant hiking trails, mountain bike trails or on horseback.
Rain falls throughout the year, increasing slightly in March and October and during summer occurs slightly more in the eastern areas of the nature reserve. Thunderstorms are frequent and snow occurs occasionally in the winter months on the high peaks. Temperatures in summer can vary from 30°C (86°F) to 40°C (104°F) and drop to 2.5°C (36.5°F) in the winter months.
This reserve is truly wild and visitors should be prepared at all times. The weather can be unpredictable and is known to suddenlychange from one extreme to the next. Heavy rain often deteriorates the roads and visitors should be prepared for bad road conditions. 4X4 driving skills are recommended. The nature reserve is home to over 48 mammal species including large African game such as Buffalo and Rhino and hikers in particular are advised to advance with caution and to give game animals a wide berth.
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