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A ride through the Baviaanskloof is not necessarily an insider tip, but we are convinced that very few tourists know or dare this route. For the path between patensia in the fertile Gamktoos Valley and Willowmore on the N 9, so the connection from the coast to the Karoo, you definitely need time, adventure, driving skills and a little courage.
The partially untouched wilderness of South Africa is one of the most spectacular and beautiful routes and we can highly recommend a trip here. The vast 218,000-hectare and rugged area is one of South Africa’s largest nature reserves and includes three mountain ranges and two rivers, as well as the protected areas of Baviaanskloof, Cockscomb and Formosa.
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Large parts of the mountains are still completely untouched. About 150 km winds a narrow, rough mountain range through the Baviaanskloof and through the 167,000-acre Wilderness Area. Due to the lack of bridges, some small rivers have to be crossed and the route requires both attention and perseverance. From Patensie to Willowmore there are then a total of just over 200 km, for which but without long breaks about 6 hours !!!! needs – in good weather and good road conditions.
The small rivers in the Baviaanskloof can, after a heavy rain, suddenly turn into raging streams, making the track impassable. Fortunately, this happens very rarely, but you should definitely inquire about the weather forecast.
There are 58 mammal species in the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area, and 293 species of birds have been spotted here, as well as several freshwater fish and 17 species of proteas that are found only in the area and nowhere else in the world. This unique flora and fauna can be found in a rugged mountain landscape with rivers, deep gorges, open plateaus and secluded side valleys.
The reserve is also known for its abundant and varied vegetation, but mainly of Spekboomveld, with typical species such as aloes, spearbok, Valley Bushveld Europhobia, bush and mountain fynbos. Botanically particularly interesting is the Willowmore cedar, which grows only here in the Baviaanskloof and in the Kouga mountains. It is related to the common mountain cedar and the equally rare Clanwilliam cedar, which grows exclusively in the Cedar mountains.
Due to the virginity of the region, the animals are not particularly shy and especially in the late afternoon you can observe numerous kudu and other antelope species in the green meadows by the river. Partly you also share the track with fleeing animals or, if you are unlucky, grazing buffalos that do not go out of their way.
After the scenic drive over the Route 62 just 200 kilometres through South Africa’s Eastern Cape, which has it all. Because the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve covers 175,000 hectares of virtually untouched and barely visited wilderness.
The route over two mountain passes, through rivers and over gravel roads is anything but easy. Asphalt, shops and petrol stations are in vain in the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area. Actually, almost every sign of human existence is missing. We did not think that we would encounter so much adventure so close to the famous Garden Route.