Baviaanskloof is located in the western part of the Eastern Cape some 95km to the north west of Port Elizabeth. An area of spectacular scenic beauty with an impressive list of plants and animals, it forms part of the Cape Floristic Region World Heritage Site. One tends to think of it as just the valley between the Baviaanskloof and the Kouga Mountains, stretching in a south east, north west direction for some 200km but it's bigger than this, much bigger. The Baviaanskloof area covering around 500,000 hectares, comprises of a number of protected areas under the management of Eastern Cape Parks Board and is the third largest protected area in South Africa.

It is, of course, the road down the valley that is of interest to us, stretching from Willowmore in the west to Patensie in the east. And, from all accounts, it's a tough ride. We've done it in a 4X4, a friend has ridden it on his adventure motorbike and some other friends have recently ridden it on their ebikes. We haven't ridden it. Yet! This will happen sometime in the future but in the meantime, this is Dave Evans' account:

Depending on the time of year you could have a couple of river crossings, which may necessitate a bit of wading. Baviaanskloof. Eastern Cape. South Africa

Route: Day 1 – Uniondale to Uitspan – 69km (elevation gain 742m)

Day 2 – Uitspan to Zandvlakte Lodge – 54km (elevation gain 226m)

Day 3 – Sandvlakte Lodge to Baviaanskloof Lodge – 63km (elevation gain 1072m)

Day 4 – Baviaanskloof Lodge to Padlangs Restaurant – 36km (elevation gain 300m)

Dates 12 – 15 January 2020 inclusive.

Four days and three nights.

Overnight accommodation with bike charging facilities.

Some catered and some self-catering

Back-up vehicle transporting luggage, support and providing lunches and tea breaks

Eleven e-bike-qualified cyclists, many part time and novice, and all hovering around the 60 years old mark (bar one young one). But what an amazing adventure it turned out to be. Put together by Micko O’Byrne, an Australian adventurer of renown and now married to a South African lady and living on the Zulu Battlefields of KZN.

As an e-bike owner for almost 3 years now, and a committed stalwart to the cause, cycling the Baviaanskloof remains one of the hardest rides I have done. Not because I had a battery to assist but because I needed to protect the precious battery resource, being faced with big climbs, long distances and very hot days. Could we have done it without e-bikes?……NEVER. They have added a dimension to adventure tourism in our ageing years, that would simply not have been possible sans this technology.

And to add to the challenge of the distances, the heat and the climbs, were river crossings, technical descents, buffalo and black rhino. But our adventure was rewarded with breath-taking views, amazing and diverse scenery dotted with wildlife and interesting birdlife, not to mention the amazing plants of the Cape Fold Mountains with their clear running streams to swim in and forests to rest in.

I don’t want to divulge too much suffice to say that I will do it again. One of the great experiences of my life and in the company of fantastic folk, many of whom were completely new to mountain biking, notwithstanding the incredible support offered by pedal assist.

One small word of caution: Feast on the power at your peril. You need to protect your energy resource. It is a long push with battery depleted and a climb at the end of the day. One of us found out.

And It’s all downhill. The adventure starts around 1050 meters and ends at around 75 meters. A drop of almost 1km over 4 days of riding.

Do it.

Typical Baviaanskloof terrain - Combrink's Pass. And to get to this point there is one HUGE climb.

We will update this page with more info and pics once we have ridden the route.

Route Distance: About 220 km in total

Route conditions: From delightful, long downhills on good gravel roads to gnarly, steep, tough climbs that seem to go on forever. It's hot and difficult. Riders must be accompanied by a support vehicle and there is no mobile phone reception in the valley, neither are there any filling stations so fill up in Willowmore before you start the journey. Eastern Cape Parks Board has more info.

Download the GPS track here.