Cedar Falls Farm, Baviaanskloof (E/C)

The gruelling #TransBaviaans #mtb race through #Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, RSA – presented by Ecobound.

Regular contributor and trail-guru JACQUES MARAIS spent some time in the picturesque Baviaanskloof. WORDS AND IMAGES: JACQUES MARAIS

LOCAL BUZZ

The annual ECOBOUND #TransBaviaans 24hr MTB Marathon … let me tell you, bru, that’s a pretty hard-core event. Yup, you’ve got only 24hrs, and in that time you need to get all the way from Willowmore to Jeffreys Bay, all while navigating a gruelling route through the stunning Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve. This is certainly not a race for your average Joe, but fortunately this exhilarating World Heritage Site boasts a whole bunch of easy riding options if you know where to go and look. Cedar Falls Farm is one such spot, and – even though it is better known as a base for the multi-day Leopard Trail Hike – the farm offers great mountain biking, too. This part of the Baviaanskloof – the name is derived from Dutch, and translates as “The Valley of Baboons” – is known as Cambria, and it is also where you will find destinations such as Makkedaat Caves, set within a pristine natural paradise, brimming with narrow gorges, streams, steep mountain passes and thorny savanna plains. The “Kloof” itself is around 200km long, hemmed in on both sides by the serrated ridges of the Kouga- and Baviaanskloof ranges. These mountains intensify precipitation from the surrounding Karoo, thus creating a relatively lush landscape with diverse fauna and flora. One of the problems that mountain bikers face in Baviaanskloof these days is the recent introduction of dangerous game; with buffalo and black rhino numbers on the rise, you need to ride with a support vehicle (or a registered wilderness guide) at all times when within the actual game reserve boundaries. For more information, check out the following sites : → www.transbaviaans.co.za  – official web site for #TransBaviaans → www.gobaviaans.co.za   – tourism info on the area as a whole → www.visiteasterncape. co.za/nature-conservation/ provincial-parks/ baviaanskloof/  – detailed info on the mega reservedangerous game; with buffalo and black rhino numbers on the rise, you need to ride with a support vehicle (or a registered wilderness guide) at all times when within the actual game reserve boundaries. For more information, check out the following sites : → www.transbaviaans.co.za  – official web site for #TransBaviaans → www.gobaviaans.co.za   – tourism info on the area as a whole → www.visiteasterncape. co.za/nature-conservation/ provincial-parks/ baviaanskloof/  – detailed info on the mega reserve

TRAIL LOW-DOWN

Here’s the good news if you want to ride Baviaanskloof, either outside the #TransBaviaans event, or off the main route.  The beauty of “The Kloof” is that you can have your cake and eat it, by booking into one of a range of tourist destinations, such as Cedar Falls. Feel free to check out the web sites above for more riding spots! Willowmore has by geographical default very much become the “western gateway into the Baviaanskloof”, and has over the past decade morphed into quite a lekker dorp. Gone are the days when it was just another fuel stop along a forgotten back road, and you’ll find top guesthouses like the upmarket Old Jail (www.theoldjail.co.za) and a full gamut of other accommodation options, plus a main road dotted with quirky eateries, delis and the likes. Most mountain bikers saddle up here on their journey into the kloof, and you can bet your bottom bracket that a ride of note awaits. Head through town until you T-bone with the N9 tarmac strip and roll back in the direction of Uniondale for 3km. Then look out for the huge sign indicating the entrance to Baviaanskloof on your left … The first 30km is easy going along a good dirt road undulating amidst rolling hills, until you hit a gradual climb up Nuwekloof Pass (36km). From here, bomb via “Die Sleutel” into the kloof proper, cranking along a narrow and rocky ravine into the contorted wilderness ranges beyond. Take in the rugged beauty rucking up all round, keeping a sharp eye for Verreaux’s eagle and klipspringer, and most definitely the chacma baboons for which the kloof was named. Pass through the Riet River area, and look out for the sign to Cedar Falls in one of the lesser kloofs to your right, less than 50km into your ride. A side road meanders around 8km through two gates, eventually bringing you to this stunning hideaway. This narrow valley hides many treasures – a stone labyrinth, cedar trees, rock paintings and, to top it all, the multi-day Leopard Trail Hiking Route. This truly has become one of SA’s premier hikes – find out more at www.leopardtrail.org And if hiking does not crank up your soul, saddle up your bike here in the middle of moer and gone country, and explore the myriad trails traversing the shale-shocked hills. All the jeep tracks are fine for intermediate riders, while technical footpaths and trails will challenge the technically minded.

 

The gruelling #TransBaviaans #mtb race through #Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, RSA – presented by Ecobound.

GETTING THERE

From Willowmore, take the N9 towards Uniondale. 3km out of Willowmore take the road on the left signposted “Baviaanskloof”. Keep going straight on this road for 31km at which point you enter the Nuwe Kloof Pass. Drive a further 7.4km to a road on the right marked “Cedar Falls”. Drive 7km to Cedar Kloof Basecamp. 33*34’31.28”S / 23*42’57.33”E

 

LEOPARD KLOOF ROUTE FAST FACTS

GRADING: Easy / intermediate

DURATION: 1hr 30min (farm) / 5-6hrs (Willowmore return)

CONFIGURATION: Various

START POINT: Cedar Falls

COORDINATES: 33*34’31.28”S / 23*42’57.33”E

TERRAIN: Gravel roads / 4×4 tracks

MAP: Map available on website

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Guests ride for free / public roads

FACILITIES: Full B&B or S/C facilities

CELL RECEPTION: Occasional blips; they do have Wi-Fi

BEWARE OF: Buffalo and black rhino

EVENTS: Transbaviaans – www.transbaviaans.co.za

CONTACT: Zane Schmall – (072) 076 8623

WEB SITE: www.gobaviaans.co.za

ACCOMMODATION: Detail at www.leopardtrail.org

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