Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area is considered to be a true mega-reserve. Spanning across 288 087 hectares, the reserve is made up of the Baviaanskloof, Groendal and Formosa Nature Reserves and is located in the southwest of the Eastern Cape and crosses over slightly into the south east of the Western Cape.
The nature reserves breath-taking scenery includes sights of deep gorges, twisting streams and rivers and towering mountain cliffs. Open plateaux and valleys are scattered throughout the area resulting in truly magnificent and varied scenic vistas. The highest point in the mountain ranges is the Cockscomb in the Groot Winterhoek range that rises to a height of 1 758 metres above sea level.
This cluster of reserves all lie between the arid Steytlerville Karoo region in the north and the mesic (well balanced moisture region) southern Cape coast with a majority of the eastern parts of the reserve lying in the Cape Floral Kingdom with its resulting plant species including fynbos species being found there. The reserve is known to be very botanically rich with over 1 214 plant species being identified in the wilderness area. There are 33 different species of Protea found within here and 11 types of aloe.
Historical artefacts provide evidence of human's occupation in the region throughout all 3 stone ages and the presence of the San people is clear through the rock art found within the caves. The first white settlers arrived in the area towards the end of the 1700s.
Cape Mountain Zebra, Greater Kudu, Common Eland, Savanna Buffalo and Red Haartebeest all once roamed the landscape and have all been reintroduced in recent years. Today there are 48 mammal species found in the reserve. The most commonly seen mammals include, Savanna Baboon, Ververt Monkeys, Rock Hyrax (Dassies) and Small Grey Mongoose.
The reserve was first managed by the Department of Forestry in the 1920s and then later by the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Cape Nature Conservation group. In 2004 the management of the nature reserve was taken over by the Eastern Cape Parks Board.
There are a number of snake species found in the wilderness area including the venomous Puff Adder, Cape Cobra and Berg Adder. The nature reserve is also home to 66 recorded species of butterflies including the Baviaanskloof Blue that is only found within the park.
With a rich and diverse landscape, it is not surprising to find that there are around 300 species of birds recorded here and of that there are 26 species of raptor alone. Forest Buzzards, Verreaux's Eagles and Crowned Eagles can all be seen soaring through the air on the thermals, and the area is also known to be good for spotting Peregrine Falcons. Bird watchers can look forward to possible sightings of Victorin'sWalbers, Orange-breasted Sunbirds and Protea Seedeaters.
Find Baviaanskloof accommodation and more helpful info in the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area Travel Guide