Take a road trip through the breath-taking Baviaanskloof

Road trippin'

Take a road trip through the breath-taking Baviaanskloof

Adventure of a life-time at the valley of the baboons
by Peter Martin

There is little doubt that the Eastern Cape truly deserves its nickname of the “Adventure Province.” With its long stretches of sandy beaches, its meandering rivers, majestic mountains, pretty villages, and various game parks, there are always plenty of places to visit and sight-see in our province.

Situated just on 500km from Buffalo City is an area that is proving popular among visitors, whether from other parts of the country or overseas. This is Baviaanskloof, which means Valley of the Baboons. It’s an awesome mountain kingdom, which is a World Heritage Site.

The region is famous in that it contains seven of South Africa’s eight biomes – fynbos, forest, grassland, succulent Karoo, Nama-Karoo, sub-tropical thicket and savannah. However, there is a warning to all visitors: do not feed the baboons or monkeys and comply with all the rules of the reserve.

Access to Baviaanskloof from the east is via the N2 to Patensie along the R331, then  from Patensie to Komdomo on the R332. From the west, motorists would take the N9 from George to Willowmore, and then from Willowmore to Coleske gate on the R332. A 4x4 for the most rugged mountain passes is essential. The closest towns are Patensie (about 45km away), Willowmoore (120km), Jeffrey’s Bay (107km) and Port Elizabeth (120km).

Travelling through the Baviaanskloof Reserve up mountain passes and along rivers across the plateau is an experience of a life-time.

The reserve is home to 1100 plant species and at least 20 are endemic to the area. The flora include proteas, ericas, cedars, cycads, yellowwoods and about 70 succulent species.

The wildlife includes Cape mountain zebra, bushbuck, leopard, redhartebeest, eland, kudu, Cape buffalo, klipspringers, mountain reedbuck and the ubiquitous baboons and vervet monkeys. There are also 300 bird species including the Knysna loerie, the orange-breasted sunbird, the fish eagle and the blue crane, South Africa’s national bird.

That’s not all. The reserve boasts 33 endemic reptile species and nine amphibians which are endemic to South Africa.

At the eastern entrance, the World Heritage Site Interpretive Centre should be visited. This is the centre which will assist the visitors with what to see and where to go in the reserve. There visitors will be told about the Poortjies waterfall, an awesome area to explore, as well as various lookout points. There are also Bushmen paintings in caves to see and visitors are able to picnic at various sites within the reserve.

There are a few huts at camps available which can be booked.

All in all, a visit to the Valley of the Baboons will be an unforgettable experience and a trip well worth all the effort.

Gates are open from 5am to 4.30pm. Contact Komdomo office (from 8am) on 042-283-7912/3/4 or 087-286-6494.  

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