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BBaviaanskloof 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 1 000 plant species, from ancient cycads to 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.
IIts 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.
RRock 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 (sometimes known as Bushmen) 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 Nature Reserve
Tel: + +27 (0)84 616 0056 | +27 (0)83 996 1391
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.
Things to do
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.
The annual International Mohair Summit takes place at nearby Graaff-Reinet in November.
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.