Baviaanskloof Wilderness, Addo, Sunshine Coast, Frontier Country 

Baviaanskloof Wilderness, Addo, Sunshine Coast, Frontier Country

Taking a route from Willowmore on the edge of the Karoo into the dramatic Baviaanskloof  (Ravine of the Baboons) area is a journey for the adventurous and those wanting to re-connect with nature.  The 150km. long valley is accessed by the narrow, sometimes steep, gravel surfaced, winding R332 and ventures through breathtaking mountain passes, rock formations, indigenous forests and mountain streams. It is an area of extraordinary biodiversity, representing 7 distinct biomes, which in turn support over 1000 different plant species as part of the Cape Floral Kingdom.  It is an ecologically sensitive area offering nature-based activities such as hiking, rock climbing, photography, bird watching and game viewing.  Original Bushman Rock Art can be encountered in a number of sites.   Cedar Retreat and Guest House with its various accommodation options can be used as a wonderful base to explore this rugged, uncultivated and beautiful area. 

Moving on, the greater Addo area, host to the Addo Elephant National Park stretches from the citrus area of the Sundays River Valley and the town of Kirkwood in the west, down to the Indian Ocean characterized by unspoilt wilderness and the shifting sands of the Alexandria dune-fields.  This, the third largest National Park in South Africa is sanctuary to over 550 elephants, lions, buffalo, black rhino, spotted hyena, a variety of antelope and zebra species as well as the unique flightless dung-beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo.  Activities other than game viewing include horse trails, a 4x4 trail, the Alexandria 2-day Hiking Trail, and a couple of day trails in the Zuurberg section of the Park. The Colonial on Arundel, a beautifully restored Guesthouse just a few kilometres from the Park entrance could serve as your base to explore this area and offers the services of your very own Game Ranger/Guide. 

Your route eastwards then takes you either through the interior into what is called Frontier Country (the historic heart of the Eastern Cape) or along the coastal R72 Sunshine Coast route to the magnificent beaches of this part of the South African coast.  Dissected by numerous small Rivers the coast offers good swimming, rock and surf angling, surfing, horse riding and boating opportunities and with its long hours of sunshine is a favoured holiday destination.  Small coastal towns such as Port Alfred and Kenton-on-Sea offer plenty of affordable value for money Bed & Breakfast/Guesthouse accommodation.   The coastline is rich in marine life, with some sections providing good shell collecting opportunities.    A number of guided beach walking trails (some as long as 5 days) are also available from a Port Alfred base.

From here you can also explore the ‘capital’ of the Frontier Country, Grahamstown and the 1820 village of Bathurst.   A personal hop-on guide can be organized for a really good insight into the history of this City of Saints and Scholars (a reference to the large number of churches and educational establishments in the City).  A short distance away you are able to enjoy a wonderful Safari experience in a malaria-free environment.   The Sibuya Tented Camps ‘getaway’ unusually is reached by boat up the Kariega River and Kichaka Private Game Lodge is located on a Big 5 Reserve near Grahamstown.   

Frontier Country however extends much further towards the towns of Bedford, Adelaide and Fort Beaufort.  These are the areas where many of the 1820 Settlers eventually settled and even to-day many of their descendents are still farming their original lands.  The Bedford Garden Festival in early October is the highlight of the town’s calendar, where a fabulous range of gardens can be visited – vast park-like expanses on some farms and smaller gardens in the village and township.  Adelaide and Fort Beaufort both house interesting Museums exhibiting 1820 memorabilia if history is your interest.