Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area

Surprisingly, the Baviaanskloof is an undiscovered, secretive place even to locals. It is one of South Africa’s seven World Heritage Sites, on account of its phenomenal biodiversity – it is home to seven out of eight biomes in the country. More than 1 000 different plant species exist in the rugged mountains. A 4×4 is essential. The nature reserve forms part of a much larger conservancy. Size: 500 000 hectares. Situated between Port Elizabeth and WIllowmore in the southern area of South Africa.

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Blog posts

Days 44-46 – Year in the Wild 2013 – Baviaanskloof always lovely

Sometimes (well, often in fact!) the light doesn't play along. My weekend in the Baviaanskloof was blustery and cloudy. Gale force winds on the coast funneled through the mountainous valley. Conditions made photography difficult. But it was just good to be here. In fact, I enjoyed not having to pick up my camera. Instead, I was able to relax a little, and just notice things for their intrincis value, rather than their photogenic possibilities. (Not always easy for a photographer to admit this!)

The first night I stayed at Kamerkloof Farm, situated in the western part of the Baviaanskloof which is still farmland and not part of the protected area. I have stayed here before, and it's my favourite spot in the valley. There's a beautiful Read more »

Big, beautiful things happening in the Baviaans

Do you know which is the third-largest nature reserve in South Africa, after Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park?

Would you ever guess its Baviaanskloof? I wouldn’t have thought so either, but this 210 000 hectare reserve is under rated and generally misunderstood by the public. Check where it is on Google Maps here. It’s one of the country’s most important protected areas, not only because it is beautiful, but also because it is one of the most ecologically diverse places on earth (and that's no exaggeration). Plus it is also the most important Read more »

Deep into the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve

I spent the whole day today exploring the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve. It's a very rugged area, and the road either follows the river bed, traversing the water several times, or it ascends the mountains over several passes. The most beautiful is Grasnek Pass, with great views over the valley. A huge thunderstorm moved just west of the reserve, but no rain fell here! In the morning it was really hot, and I took a few swims in the river. I found a very photogenic water lily...to go with the rest of this photogenic landscape.

Tonight I am camping at a spot on the river called Rooihoek...it's very basic, but perfect. There are a few other campers here too. Baboons are scaling the cliffs above Read more »

Valley of secrets and surprises

The Baviaanskloof (“valley of baboons”) is a narrow valley in the Eastern Cape about a hundred kilometres inland from the southern coast of South Africa. To get here, I drove from Plettenberg Bay on the coastline of the Indian Ocean, over Prince Alfred’s pass through the Outeniqua Mountains.

It was rainy in Plett, and the pass was covered in mist and fog. As soon as I passed over the Outeniquas however, the sky cleared. And the landscape changed too. From the moist forests on the coast, the land becomes much drier, a result of the rain shadow. It’s tempting to think of the Baviaans as a hot, arid place, and at first it certainly appears so. But there’s so much more to it.

It’s why the Baviaans is so special. It is a meeting point of several different climatic zones. It lies at the Read more »

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