22 Oct Baviaanskloof South Africa, the jewel of dual sport motorbiking
South Africa is one of the riches countries in the world with concern to diversity. Like one of my American guests once said, “you have everything in your back yard, back home we need to ride for days to get half the excitement and diversity you guys have in only a couple of hours”. You could go from winding coastal roads, to serious off road dirt roads in mountains, to desert, to forests in a matter of a couple of hours. Bottom line, South Africa has some of the best riding in the world for any adventure motorcyclist. One of these exciting routes, and most probably one of the best in the world, if the famous and sometimes infamous Baviaanskloof.
Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve is a protected area in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Baviaanskloof – (Dutch for “Valley of Baboons”) – lies between the Baviaanskloof and Kouga mountain ranges. The easternmost point of the valley is some 95 km / 59 miles NW of the coastal city of Port Elizabeth.
The area includes a cluster of formal protected areas managed by the Eastern Cape Parks Board totalling around 500,000 hectares (1,200,000 acres), of which the most well-known is the 184 385 ha Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve – the third largest protected area in South Africa. The Baviaanskloof area is one of outstanding natural beauty, owing to its spectacular land forms, a diverse array of plants and wide variety of animals that include some of the big five. I personally have encountered Buffalo and Black rhino on motorcycle here. The area is part of the Cape Floristic Region World Heritage Site as of 2004.
One full day ride into the most unspoilt African wilderness areas but a stones throw from first world infrastructure. This is a great motorbike route for novices and expert who are ready for the spirit of adventure that comes with African wilderness motorcycle touring.
When you enter the Biviaanskloof from Patensie / Port Elizabeth side notifications like “R332 Not suitable for sedan vehicles” , “Doodklip (Deathrock) 39km (2hrs 50min)” and “Smitskraal 44km (3hrs 30min)” makes you relalise that this is not for the faint hearted. When you enter the Wilderness area, the first hour is twsties and turns through the “one vehicle” dirt road, full of holes and ruts up to Bergplaas (Mountain Farm”). Then as you come onto the plateau that is when you realise what the fuss is all about. As far as the eye can see, unspoiled Wilderness. Then you take the winding road down into the valley. You realise the attempt to fix the road with some concrete was not much of a success and although you want to look at the beauty, all your focus is on keeping the bike upright so that you don’t go over the side. You have the image of a metal plate you past earlier with the words, “In memory of Andre Cuyler 30 May 1958 to 31 July 2009”. As you get down into the valley things seems to ease up a bit but as you start relaxing, the next phase hits you again. As you cross one little water drift after another, you just want to stop and soak it all in. No need to say that this is also a dream come true for any photographer, you will never take enough photos.
Once you start riding the flat ground you think, now I can relax and then…………Smitskraal!!! About 200 meters of “road” right through a river filled with boulders and rocks. Depending on the rain and how much water there is, you might have to get off the bike and push it through. This crossing has the name of many a motorbike that drowned and many bruised egos!!
Once you conquered Smithskraal, all is not finished. Once again you hit mountains and passes with roads winding though rough mountains. If you lucky, maybe about 5 hours later, you will be able to find rest and peace at ZandVlakte with Pieter and Magriet where Pieter will entertain you till late at night and you will taste true South African food. The next day your trip will continue through the Baviaans valley with the farming community. Make sure you stop over at Nico and Christelle at Uitspan. If your bike needs repairs, Nico is your man, the best dam mechanic / ingeneer / handyman I have ever seen …
Don’t tackle the Baviaans on your own if you are not experienced. There are very little to no cell phone reception and no fuel. Make sure your bike gets filled up at Patensie, Willowmore or Uniondale depending where you come from. If you going to spend a couple of days, make sure to take some fuel. It is always advisable to phone some of the local people before attempting the Baviaanskloof. Don’t phone the local conservation offices, they don’t always know the conditions. People you may phone are:
Rob at Baviaans Lodge: 0218135883 or email@example.com
Pieter & Magriet: 049 8391002 or firstname.lastname@example.org