The Baviaanskloof Area

The word Baviaanskloof, although derived from the Dutch "valley of baboons", is associated with pristine nature, narrow gorges with flowing streams, steep mountain pases, vast plains with waving grasslands and views of unspoilt wilderness. Nature has taken its course over thousands of years to create what is today universally recognised as the Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site.  Few other places in the world hold evidence of the footprint of human history spanning over a million years.

The narrow valley of the Baviaanskloof is just under 200 kilometers in length and bounded by two mountain ranges: the Baviaanskloof Mountains on the north and the Kouga mountains on the south side. The valley lies at a lower altitude than the Karoo in the north.

The rainfall of the Karoo thus filters through the mountains to the Baviaanskloof river. For this reason the valley is surprisingly lush and supports a wider variety of plant species than would have been otherwise expected.

THE ROAD

Please see the 'news' section on the home page for the latest update on the road condition.

TEMPERATURES

While there may be daily variations in temperature, in general summer is sunny and warm with maximum and minimum temperatures ranging between 15° and 41° Celsius.

The easterly sea wind ensures wonderful cool evenings. During winter the maximum and minimum temperatures are 0° to 28° Celsius. The climate remains sunny and is complemented with warm winds from the hinterland.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

  • There is no cellphone reception in the Baviaanskloof.
  • There are no bank tellers in the Baviaanskloof and card facilities are only available at selected establishments. Plesae ensure you have enought cash for accommodation and meals etc.
  • There is no petrol or diesel in the Baviaanskloof.  Please fill up in Patensie or at the Engen Garage in Willowmore - open 24/7, Tel: 044 923 1007.
  • If you are choosing to self cater or camp in the Baviaanskloof, please stock up on food and drinks in Patensie or at Foodzone in Willowmore, Tel: 044 923 1027.  Foodzone in Willowmore is open from 07h30 to 18h00 Monday to Friday and from 08h00 to 13h00 on Saturday and Sundays. 
  • It takes approx. 7-8 hours to drive through the Baviaanskloof from Willowmore to Patensie.

BAVIAANSKLOOF NATURE RESERVE INFORMATION:

  • Gate time: Gates are open from sunrise and close at 16h00 in the afternoon.  
  • Permits: Available at the Reserve Gates.
  • Day visitor activities: Smitskraal Picnic Spot & Grasnek Lookout Point
  • DANGEROUS ANIMALS: There are dangerous animals within the Reserve and visitors should exercise caution at all times when walking outside of camp and within day visitor sites and on trails.

PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES IN THE RESERVE:

No persons may within a provincial Nature Reserve:

  • be in possession of any weapon, explosive, trap or poison
  • hunt, capture, catch or kill any animal by any means, method or device whatsoever, or, with intent to hunt, catch, capture or kill, search for, pursue, lie in wait for, lure, allure, discharge a missile at or injure any animal.
  • disturb or feed any animal
  • take, damage or destroy any egg or nest of any animal
  • take honey from a beehive
  • cause a veld fire
  • damage or destroy any site, object of geological, archaeological, historical, ethnological, oceanographic, educational or scientific value.
  • cut, damage, remove, chopp off, uproot or destroy any plant, including any marine plant.
  • remove a flower, seed or any other part from any plant.
  • be in possession of or exercise physical control over any animal, plant or other organism, or any biological resource.

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WORLD HERITAGE SITE STATUS

The Baviaanskloof is remarkable in terms of the diversity of its natural ecosystems.  Seven of South Africa's eight biomes (major natural regions) are represented here including fynbos, forest, grassland, succulent Karoo, nama-karoo, sub-tropical thicket and savanna. On the northern slopes are the Spekboomveld and Valley Bushveld. On the southern slopes flourishes the Cape Fynbos. In the long side valleys is concentrated the Knysna Forest vegetation. On the mountain plateaus are the Rhinoceros Veldt and Grassland.The widespread succulent Karoo bush in the valley is probably why the Baviaanskloof is classified as a part of the Little Karoo. Because of this spectacular diversity of plant species, an impressive variety of birds can be found in the valley.

The Baviaanskloof is part of the Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site - eight protected areas covering an area of 553 000ha.

It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2004 and is one of the richest plant regions in the world - less that 0.5% of the surface area of Africa but home to nearly 20% of the continent's fauna and flora.  Almost 70% of the fynbos species are endemic, and the Baviaaanskloof' endemism level of 31.9% has earned it the title "hottest" of biodiversity hotspots, with three of the planet's 34 hotspots located in the Kloof.

THINGS TO DO AND SEE ALONG THE ROAD

NUWEKLOOFPAS is a beautiful example of rock formations found in the Kloof, and is considered the official entrance into the Baviaanskloof from the west.nuwekloof1.jpg

Local opinion is divided on how RAASKRANS (noisy cliff) in the Nuwekloofpas got it's name.  One version refers back to the first days of the automobile when drivers would hoot ahead of blind curves.  Others say it describes the sound of gushing water.

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It is said that when the BAVIAANSKLOOF KEY ("SLEUTEL") rock falls away from the cliff, the Kloof will be locked forever! (Photo by Johann Kritzinger)

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Visit the local tea garden with fresh vetkoek at RONDEKLIPPIES.  Also fresh vegetalbles for sale and a lovey hiking trail.

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Look out for these interesting rock formations, THE SEVEN DWARFS, along the road.

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The uniquely built BAVIAANS CRAFT SHOP, selling crafts from the broader Baviaans area, is a must-see.  With its living roof, the building itself is a piece of art.  The shop is part of the Baviaans Community upliftment project.

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During the Anglo-Boer war of 1899-1902, a skirmish between police and a group of aspiring Boer rebels took place in the area of VENSTERKLIP.

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SEWEFONTEIN WILD FIG TREE FOREST is a beautiful and unique forest of old wild fig trees with a hiking trail and shady picnic spots.

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Iconic Afrikaans writer, PH (PETER HENDRY) NORTJE, was born on the farm Klipfontein (now part of Sewefontein) at Studtis on 20 October 1920.  Aside from setting several novels in the Baviaanskloof, some of his autobiographical works include anecdotes about life here.  Possibly his best known book - The Wild Grape Tree (Die Wildedruif val) - a moving account of the devastating flood that swept through the Kloof, won a youth literature award from Sarie and Tafelberg.

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ZAAIMANSHOEK is referred to as the "lost city" of Baviaans.  A stroll through this tucked away community reveals true local culture and a community seemingly undisturbed by time.

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The CAMPBELL MONUMENT was erected to commemorate the lives lost in the 1916 flood.

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The first church to be established in the Kloof was the DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH.  It was rebuilt at Gannaland-se-kloof on Zandvlakte in 1918 after the previous church washed away at Kleinpoort in the 1916 flood.

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HIKING, MOUNTAIN BIKING, 4x4 ROUTES, birding and many other nature-related activities are offered by the various accommodation establishments in the Kloof

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the baviaanskloof area

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