The Baviaans Camino
Ever thought of crossing the majestic Baviaanskloof Mountains at one of the highest points, which lies between Steytlerville in the Baviaans Region and Studtis in the Baviaanskloof? This is the start of a hiking trail established in 2016, the Baviaans Camino, which can be done on horseback too.
The trail starts with a climb of 400m over a very short 4km, with a long descent into the Baviaanskloof. Doing this is a sure test for body and mind, and is just the beginning. Over the next three days you will have to conquer the Kouga Mountain Range, an area seldom visited, it has limited cell phone reception, no contact with the outside world, and little proof of human life.
The Baviaans Camino can only be done during the colder winter months, when Eric Stewart and Hercules van Huyssteen will guide groups of 12 on the route, of which 6 can be on horseback.
The riders don’t have to be experienced, as the horses are trained trail horses and a walking pace will be the order of the day. Hikers on the other hand will have to be fit as the route includes many ascents and descents over the mountains.
Traversing the two mountain ranges brings you as close to nature as possible, as for days there are hardly any sign of human life. No alien vegetation, no litter, no electrical lines. The area is home to 7 of the 9 biomes, and spekboom, aloes, century old cycads, mountain fynbos and proteas can be seen. Birdlife is prolific particularly in the lower lying kloofs.
The descent from the highest point is a 7km rocky road that leads down to the main road through the Baviaanskloof, and eventually to the overnight point at Joachimskraal.
On the second day you will tackle the southern side of the Baviaanskloof, going into the Kouga Mountain Range, again with high climbs and long descents. The chance of seeing another human is almost impossible, which gives hikers the chance to become one with nature. After spending the night at Entkraal, day 3’s route starts through many kloofs, giving birders ample joy, before another long climb takes you to the top of one of the highest points of the Kouga Mountain Range. And then there is a soft introduction back into civilization as you stay on a working farm, Ragels Rivier in the Nooitgedacht area.
The final day of the hike brings another ascent via the Moordenaarskloof Pass before you pass the Kouga River. Then a last few climbs over the Pospad and you will reach Nguniland Guest Farm, the last night’s destination.