‘Solitude is the place of purification’ ~ Martin Buber
Want to get away from it all? Then head for the Baviaanskloof, a place of solitude. In the Baviaans it is only you and nature. You become acutely aware of your own insignificance, the awe-inspiring beauty of the rock formations, the diversity of the flora and the friendliness of the people.
Remoteness, space and tranquillity are encapsulated within the beautiful landscape of this wilderness area. With its World Heritage Site status, the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve is home to the biggest wilderness area in the country and is also one of the eight protected areas of the Cape Floristic Region. It covers over 200 km of unspoiled, rugged mountainous terrain with the most spectacular landscapes. The route through the valley follows the river at most points, twisting and turning along a narrow pathway while providing ever-changing and awe-inspiring views. Seven of South Africa’s eight biomes are represented within the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve – Fynbos, Forest, Grassland, Succulent Karoo, Nama-Karoo, Subtropical Thicket and Savanna.
In the reserve visitors can choose to stay at Geelboutbos in equipped bungalows, and there is also an overnight hiker’s cottage at Doornkraal. Accommodation is also available just outside the wilderness region, or in the towns near the reserve. We stayed at Kamerkloof Guest Farm in the Baviaanspoort Hartland, it is a working olive farm that is currently carrying out mixed farming. Kamerkloof is the first farm in the history of the Baviaanskloof to start with olive farming.
The beautifully restored Landhuis which is over 150 years old was our base. From there we did our explorations; morning and evening walks up the kloofs, listening to the birds and watching the baboons foraging for food.
How to get there: Baviaanskloof is located 281 kilometres from Knysna. Depending on the state of the road it should take you about 3 hours to get there. We traveled over the Prince Alfred’s pass via Uniondale to Willowmore. The gravel road was in a very poor condition due the good rains we had in February and poor maintenance. The gravel road, the R332, that runs through Baviaanskloof, is narrow and is known to be treacherous at times, when river flooding and bad weather wash away sections of the route.
Contributor: Esther Townsend
Photos & Map: Esther Townsend