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The Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve, Eastern Cape

The Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve is a 400 000ha wilderness area stretching 250km from Uniondale and Willowmore near the Eastern Cape border with the Western Cape to Uitenhage in the east, encompassing vast mountainous protected and agricultural areas in the interior as well as a coastal section near Jeffrey’s Bay. It is an ongoing project rather than a fully bordered reserve area, and is an extension of the existing protected Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve.

The Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve is one of the eight proclaimed landscape initiatives that make up the protected Cape Floral Region – in turn a declared UNESCO World Heritage Region due to the extraordinary floral diversity of the unique ‘fynbos’ (fine bush) biomes.

The vision of the Baviaanskloof Mega-Reserve is “to expand and consolidate the existing protected area and create a mega-reserve in which the conservation of the region’s biodiversity and natural resources is aligned with rural and agricultural development needs” (capeaction.org). This involves protecting existing wild areas while opening up borders between provincial, state and privately owned land to create ‘biodiversity corridors’ that allow the natural movement of wildlife.

The Baviaanskloof Mega-Reserve area is home to over 1000 different plant species, including the instantly recognisable Protea and Erica, and two different indigenous cycad species – living fossil species that pre-date the evolution of dinosaurs.

This area also encompasses a number of different geological characteristics, landscapes and seven fully distinguishable biomes. Much of its it is rugged and mountainous, and this along with the floral and biome diversity has created an environment that also supports a great diversity of animals – with over 50 mammal species and 300 species of bird recorded – including Cape Leopard and of course plenty Baboons – after which the original protected Baviaanskloof area, “Valley of the Baboons”, is named.

The original ‘Baviaans’ as it is called is favourite destination for bikers thanks to the winding R332 that runs through the reserve and it also a great eco-tourism, camping and outdoor activities destination, as well as weekend break for residents of the Garden Route and the Port Elizabeth area.

There are several accommodation options on the reserve from campsites to mountain huts, as well as World Heritage Site Interpretive Centre, built in 2007 to showcase what can’t be seen with the naked eye – the human and cultural heritage of the area, as well as the natural heritage.

Access to Baviaans Wilderness area is at the Komdomo Campsite, 120km west of Port Elizabeth.

Getting there: From Port Elizabeth take the N2 east, exiting on to the R330 at exit 702 for Hankey. Travel through Hankey on to the R331 then on to the R332 for Komdomo, where there is a Cape Nature office for information.

More about Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve

More info on Baviaanskloof More info on the Baviaanskloof Region area