Eastern Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Baviaanskloof, Eastern Cape
There is a gorge that lies in the valley, stretching for over 100 kilometres, between the Baviaanskloof Mountains to the north and the Kouga mountains to the south. Recently awarded World Heritage Site status this 192 000 hectare u-shaped reserve lies about 120 kilometres west of Port Elizabeth and is named after the baboons that roam the area - a mix of the Dutch word ‘baviaan’ for baboon and the Afrikaans word ‘kloof’ for ravine.
Baviaanskloof, the area, includes the Karoo towns of Willowmore and Steytlerville as well as a number of small stock farms, and the little town of Patensie lies at the start of the gorge - the last stop, so to speak, before entering the wilderness of the Baviaanskloof.
A single dirt road, which follows the dry river beds where it can, taking in some of the most breathtaking passes through mountains along the way, was built between 1880 and 1890 by Thomas Bain.
It wends its way through the valley with no other access, in or out. With 42 river crossings, assisted only by causeways, all of which are liable to flood during heavy rainfall, your journey is bound to be both exciting and beautiful - an area awaiting discovery.
This land of raw wilderness with its rocky passes and rugged gorges can only be travelled from east to west or from west to east. Baviaanskloof offers hours of beautiful scenery - veld, indigenous forests, crystal mountain streams, sheer cliffs and waterfalls, and is home to an amazing diversity of plants and species - from yellowwoods to karoo bossies and fynbos.
The best time to visit is in spring, before the heavy summer rains or in autumn before it gets too cold, and one should try to avoid long weekends or holiday seasons if one can.
Popular Towns in the Baviaanskloof Region
Stay? Accommodation Gamtoos Valley
Regarded as the gateway to the Baviaanskloof Wilderness area, the valley is a treasure trove of beautiful scenery and interesting landmarks that stretch all the way up to Komdomo, where the Baviaanskloof route begins. The little town of Loerie...
More information and photographs: Gamtoos Valley Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Hankey
Hankey is one of three towns that make up the Gamtoos Valley - an exceptionally beautiful part of the world due mainly to its ability to remain largely undetected and thus unspoilt - that stretches up to Komdomo and the start of the Baviaanskloof...
More information and photographs: Hankey Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Loerie
The little town of Loerie - probably named due to the prominence in the Baviaanskloof and surrounding area of the rather elusive Knysna Loerie that reveals itself only when absolutely necessary - is one of three towns in the Gamtoos River Valley...
More information and photographs: Loerie Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Patensie
The little town of Patensie lies virtually at the mouth of the Baviaanskloof Wilderness area, hidden away in the south western corner of the Eastern Cape only an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth - it’s the last stop before entering the wilderness...
More information and photographs: Patensie Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Rietbron
This is the real Karoo, off the beaten track, and the gateway to the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area - a World Heritage Site. Hence it's inherently an outdoor adventurer's destination. Offroad vehicles are virtually essential, although you can...
More information and photographs: Rietbron Information
Overnight? Accommodation Steytlerville
The little town of Steytlerville, with its wide streets - originally to allow ox wagons to turn around - is exceptionally beautiful and worth a visit for this reason as well as the richness of local game and bird life. Steytlerville lies in the Baviaanskloof...
More information and photographs: Steytlerville Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Studtis
Studtis lies in the heart of the Baviaanskloof - that section of wild, scenic beauty that is a complete exit from the hum drum, fast-paced lifestyle so many of us undergo, and an entry into a wilderness experience of rugged mountains...
More information and photographs: Studtis Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Vondeling
The little village of Vondeling, a euphemism for a smattering of homesteads grouped together alongside the now disused Vondeling railway siding, lies roughly 47 kilometres north west of Willowmore in a district known as the Cacadu. There is also...
More information and photographs: Vondeling Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Willowmore
The quaint little Karoo town of Willowmore is regarded by some as little more than a town en route to somewhere, for the most part because it’s on the N9 - the main route between the interior and the coast and ideal for those either on their way to...
More information and photographs: Willowmore Information