Route Traveling on the main public road through the Baviaanskloof between Willowmore and Patensie does not require a permit from the Dept. of Nature Conservation. However in heavy downpours parts of the road are often washed away, so phone ahead to find out logistics. A signboard as you enter the Baviaanskloof declares that the next refuse bin is 93km away. So please do not litter and when visiting the Baviaanskloof area please remember to take away all refuse generated by you during your stay, since it not only pollutes the environment but also holds tragic consequences for wild animals like the Baboon. Cement Road (R329) The Cement Road, as the R329 between Willowmore and Steytlerville is fondly called, is the quickest way from Cape Town to Shamwari and National Addo Park. The route starts outside Willowmore (off the N9) and ends at Wolwefontein to join the R75. Leaving Willowmore you travel for 35 km on the only cement strip road in South Africa, sharing half the road with the oncoming traffic. En route you'll see Cockscomb (1759m). You'll pass through Steytlerville, a town known for wool and mohair. The vegetation along the road is semi-desert vegetation and includes succulents and cycads. The town is famous for its Edwardian Church, said to have the largest floorspace among its contemporaries south of the Sahara. A mere 5km outside of Steytlerville you'll pass through Noorspoort (the Valley of Flags) where you will find the old and new South African flags painted on the rock face, as well as flags depicting South Africa's history, starting with the first Vikings in 1474. Interesting rock formations can be seen whilst traveling and despite the low rainfall in this area, many species of birds and animals are found in this district. At Wolwefontein, the R329 ends and meets the R75 - north to Graaff-Reinet and south to Port Elizabeth and Addo. The Baviaanskloof can be explored by two main roads, both equally interesting. One route leading from the Willowmore side through the Grootrivierpoort and on to Patensie, the other coming from Steytlerville through the Grootrivierpoort and on to Patensie. From Willowmore to Steytlerville along these two roads is roughly 280km. North to South Jansenville – Mount Steward – Steytlerville – Hadley – Grootrivierpoort – Patensie Turning of the main road outside of Jansenville and onto the R337 to Klipplaat, 12km further turn left to Steytlerville. The 54km untarred road takes you through the Small Winterhoek Mountains that have little, but nevertheless spectacular, canyons with massive folded cliffs of red sandstone. The gravelroad meets up with the tar road a mere 5km outside of Steytlerville. Turn right and en route you'll pass through Noorspoort (the Valley of Flags) where you will find the old and new South African flags painted on the rock face, as well as flags depicting South Africa's history, starting with the first Vikings in 1474. Stop off at the Karoo Hotel for a refreshing Breakfast before heading off on the Grootrivierpoort Route that takes one out of Steytlerville on the gravel road through Grootrivierpoort and on toward Patensie. It is approximately 96km and takes about 4 hours and is a route for bakkies, 4x4 or mountain bike enthusiasts. From Steytlerville it's fairly flat and the dirt road runs southwards to the Baviaanskloof Mountains, the road then climbs gradually until it reaches the foothills of the Baviaanskloof Mountains. Follow the signs for the Cockscomb Road, after 5km turn right at split in the road, follow the Winterhoek signs, continue pass the Rietfontein turn off. 18Km further turn right to Hadley and at the T- junction further one turn right again to Hadley and the Grootrivier Poort Route. The road runs alongside the range until you reach Hadley, the last farm before you enter the Grootrivier Poort. Continue pass the sign for the Hadley farm on your right and continue on the winding and narrow decent to the Grootriver Poort. It is an interesting route in that you see both farm livestock and wildlife inhabiting the same areas. The road follows a series of ascents and descents before entering the Baviaanskloof conservation area and descending dramatically to the Grootriver Poort. Travelers can get out of their vehicles at any stage to take in the vastly impressive landscapes. A must is the view from the top of the last decent to the beautiful gorge of the Grootriver. A definite must see for any nature lover. The road drops steeply and dramatically, a descent of 400 meters. From the view site it is a 3 km descent to a gate on the right, which takes one into the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area. Pass through a farm gate before the poort and keep left up the other side. There is only one choice of road here all the way until one reaches a T-junction at the Telkom tower where you take a right to Patensie. However the climb up the mountain is on a surface that is badly eroded in places. The track is badly rutted and steep in places, offering some very technical riding. The scenic drive however is a must. The winding road, as it descends towards the Gamtoos valley, offers a panoramic view of the Elandsberg and Groot Winterhoek mountain ranges, dominated by the 1759m high Cockscomb, the one of the highest mountain peak in the Eastern Cape, known to some of the earlier indigenous tribes as "T'numkwa" (Mountain of the clouds). At the T-junction turn right, at the sign saying Humansdorp. Continue for 30 minutes down the mountain until you reach the R331, a tar road from Patensie. Turn right to the Grootrivier Poort road and at the first stream stop for lunch. Patensie – Gamtoos Valley - Cambria - Geelhoutbos – Studtis - Willowmore A journey through the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area is a memorable experience and the 200-kilometer long gravel road between Patensie and Willowmore is one of the best- kept scenic secrets in South Africa. The area has a multitude of diverse flowers and an abundance of bird species and wild life. The majestic Baviaanskloof - and Kouga mountain ranges enfolds a deep ravine which forms the Baviaanskloof. The tar road from Patensie becomes a gravel road and passes the turn off to the Kouga Dam, the life source of the Gamtoos Valley. The road gradually winds its way through the Grootrivier Poort and enters the Cambria basin where the true splendor of the Baviaanskloof mountain range (1561m) looms. The road that started in the east, meanders a spectacularly narrow gorge with red coloured sandstone cliffs, crossing the river numerous times, elevates to steep plateaus and winds it's way down through mesmerizing mountain ranges to level out on the narrow floor of Baviaanskloof, leading through Coleslaws, Studtis and Zandvlakte towards Willowmore 258km away. It's a road with very steep gradients but a worthwhile experience. The road passes the Geelhoutbos turn off. This accommodation facility is situated 4km from the turn off. From Geelhoutbos to Studtis is another 25km. The road climbs again before the valley opens out into farmland and the road flattens passing the farm Zandvlakte. The road continues with a series of gradual climbs to the Studtis Police Station. The rare and unique Baviaanskloof Cedar (Widdringtonia Schwarzii) may be seen growing at Nuwekloof pass (± 1000m above sea level) en route to Willowmore after which the road enters another narrow gorge to emerge from the Baviaanskloof area into the Klein Karoo. The gravel road meets up with the N9 leading south to Uniondale and west towards Willowmore. South to North Willowmore – Nuwekloof Pass – Studtis - Geelhoutbos – Cambria - Patensie Four kilometers outside Willowmore on the N9 (Willowmore - Uniondale), take the Baviaanskloof - Patensie road (T1). After a further 15km take the Baviaanskloof road and not the Winterhoek. The Baviaanskloof route ascends over a distance of ± 26 km to the top of the spectacular Nuwekloof Pass (± 1000m above sea level) and the official start of the Baviaanskloof. The pass stretches for 7km. Over the next ± 80 km the route drops down into the Baviaanskloof passing through a number of farms such as Rietrivier and the Police Station at Studtis. Studtis is named after a German trader who once ran a store in the area. Continue pass Studtis and take the opportunity for one more refreshing jump into the river. By which time you've criss-crossed the river so often that you would have eventually lost count. The road enters the Baviaanskloof Wilderness area under the control of Eastern Cape Nature Conservation. This long descent ends at Geelhoutbos a distance of ± 110 km from Willowmore. It is 4kms from the turn off to the Geelhoutbos cottages. Geelhoutbos to Cambria is 55km. Leaving Geelhoutbos the road follows a series of switchbacks and runs along the plateau. The gradient is steep and driving should be very slow. The route becomes more strenuous, narrower and more difficult to negotiate. The last part of the Baviaanskloof trip leads straight through the nature reserve up Combrinck's Pass. It's quite steep and there are some very tight turns with breathtaking drop-offs and dramatic scenery and breathtaking views, reaching a high point at Bergplaas, at ± 147 km from Willowmore, a plateau covered in grass with plenty of wildlife roaming. From here it drop suddenly into the upper Gamtoos Valley past some citrus farms to Patensie Going up the passes pay attention to the slopes covered in spekboom, aloes, and mountain fynbos, spot some proteas and marvel at the endless views of the Karoo. Admire the diverse vegetation, the dense forest vegetation in the ravine and the multitude of diverse plants along the slopes. Continue pass the turn off for Kouga Dam, formerly known as the Paul Sauer Dam. The dam with its beautifully designed wall, 365 meters wide and 94 meters high, holds 130 million cubic meters of water and is the main source of irrigation for the Gamtoos Valley. Continue on till the Elandsrivier turn off to your left and head to Steytlerville via the Grootrivier Poort. Patensie – Grootrivierpoort – Hadley – Steytlerville – Jansenville From Patensie turn right at the Elandsrivier road. Follow the road for 16km up pass the Telkom Tower. Turn left at the turn off – No sign, but the road leads to the Grootrivier Poort. Drive slowly since this road is in poor condition and badly eroded. At the bottom of the steep decent you’ll cross the Grootrivier. Picnic at the river crossing and take a refreshing dip before once more heading up a steep ascent. From the Grootrivier Poort the road climbs steeply and dramatically, an ascent of 400m to Hadley (the first farm outside of the Baviaanskloof Nature Conservation) is 50 km and the road changes dramatically. The road runs through a series of ascents and descents and crosses numerous mountainsides; take note as the vegetation changes from mountain fynbos to Karoo landscape. Hadley to Steytlerville is 48 km and the road continues pass Geduld se Hoogte which literally translates to Patience Rise and at the split in the road turn right to Steytlerville (6km further).
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