Did you know?
The Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area is the third largest inland protected area in South Africa.
The Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area, that starts about 90km west of Port Elizabeth, has long been considered an area of exceptional beauty and is a strong drawcard for off-road travellers wishing to immerse themselves in a mountain wilderness.
The 200km-long Baviaanskloof valley ('valley of the baboons'), bounded by the Baviaankloof mountains to the north and the Kouga mountains to the south, is by far the most popular tourist route in this area, and runs from Patensie in the east to Willowmore in the west.
Visitors wishing to drive through this valley will have to navigate a dirt road, built between 1880 and 1890, by road engineer Thomas Bain towards the end of his life. This was by far the longest road the legendary road engineer ever built and one of the most beautiful.
There are two spectacular mountain passes and numerous low-water bridges on route. The entire route takes at least six hours due to its rugged nature. The eastern part of the valley is only accessible by 4x4 and requires a skilled driver, but the epic views are well worth the careful drive.
Wildlife abounds in this unspoilt conservancy and visitors can expect to see prolific birdlife, including fish-eagles and the Verreaux's eagle. Other residents include the inevitable troops of baboons, small mammals like mongoose and vervet monkeys as well as mountain zebras and Cape buffalo, which have been reintroduced to the area. Buffalo can be dangerous so its best to take the advice of the locals when hiking.
There are numerous accommodation options, including campsites on the river, should visitors wish to spend a few days exploring this secluded valley.
The larger area known as the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve has been short-listed to be awarded World Heritage Site status by Unesco. The Baviaanskloof also forms part of the Cape Floristic Kingdom World Heritage Site.
Travel tips & Planning info
How to get here
The Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area can be accessed from Patensie on the Port Elizabeth side or Willowmore on the Karoo side.
Tours by car of 4x4 are popular, but some parts of the valley are rugged and require a skilled driver.
What to pack
Sturdy boots, warm clothes, cameras and binoculars will stand you in good stead. Sunscreen, hats and water will also make any hiking expedition more comfortable.
Where to stay
Accommodation is available at various campsites as well as guesthouses.
Hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, swimming, snorkelling, kloofing, birding, mountain biking and 4x4 routes are available.