Baviaanskloof is one of the most stunning off-the-beaten-track wilderness locations in South Africa. Spanning a couple of hundred thousand hectares, it features mountains, valleys, forests and thicket, as well as abundant wildlife. The rugged terrain means most areas are only accessible by 4x4, mountain bike or on foot.

Did you know?

Baviaanskloof forms part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Baviaanskloof in the Eastern Cape is a major 4x4 draw card. Although some areas can be accessed by normal sedan, the majority of the area is pure 4x4 territory, making it the perfect destination for your off-road getaway.

Baviaanskloof refers to a 300 000ha conservation area, characterised by extreme topographical and biological diversity. Part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, it is an ecologically sensitive area that is home to more than 1000 plant species, including ancient cycads, and dozens of mammal species, including the rare and elusive Cape leopard.

Eco-tourism in the region has gained momentum in recent years and visitors are now able to thoroughly explore the incredible biodiversity through the many adventure activities offered.

Its mountainous terrain perfectly positions it for 4x4, mountain biking and hiking excursions. The area boasts various trails that take in mountain passes, waterfalls, rock formations and natural rock pools.

Try the Cambria route (accessible by sedan) to see geological wonders and the beautiful Baviaans and Kouga mountains and Cambria Valley; the Doodsklip trail (4x4) to experience the forested Poortjies area and awesome mountaintop panoramas; and the Geelhoutbos route (4x4) to summit the Gransnek Pass with its 360-degree mountain views.

Rock climbing and camping are also available with camp sites at Doodsklip, Rooihoek and Poortjies or, for something a little different, there is a fully equipped Bakkrans Cave camp. This natural rocky overhang provides shelter and is a good base from which to hike, rock climb, bird watch and explore San rock art sites.

The Baviaans area also includes the towns of Steytlerville and Willowmore, which themselves offer numerous outdoor activities, including paragliding and abseiling. They're also the only point to fuel your vehicle or stock up on supplies before entering the reserve, so make sure you pop in for a visit.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Baviaanskloof Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)44 923 1702

Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)42 283 0027

How to get here

Fly directly from any of South Africa’s major cities to Port Elizabeth. From Port Elizabeth head north on the Uitenhage road to Steytlerville and Willowmore and follow the signs to Baviaanskloof.

Best time to visit

Summer gets extremely hot while winters in the valleys are very cold. Spring (September-October) is best. The rainy months (November to February) can make some roads difficult to impossible to access even with a 4x4.

Around the area

Visit the Draaikrans rock formation, Valley of Flags, Steytlerville Museum, and the War Monument and Heroes Monument, all in Steytlerville. Bakers Dam and Aasvoëlberg (Vulture Mountain) in Willowmore.

Get around

Self-drive is best and a 4x4 vehicle is recommended. All major car hire companies have 4x4 vehicles available.

Length of stay

Take at least a weekend to explore the region.

What to pack

Sunscreen and a hat, no matter the season. Comfortable walking shoes or boots.

Where to stay

The towns of Steytlerville and Willowmore have a number of charming B&Bs and guesthouses.There are also numerous campsites in the Baviaanskloof, including a fantastic cave camp at Bakkrans Cave.

What to eat

Enjoy high tea and authentic country fare at Padlangs Country Restaurant in the Baviaanskloof.

What's happening

The annual International Mohair Summit takes place at nearby Graaff-Reinet in November.

Related articles