Our aluminium ladder leads me down the rooftop tent. The ground is moist and two deep brown eyes follow me around. These eyes belong to a pitch black farmdog who belongs to the farm where we decided to camp. Even though it is only 7 am his tongue hangs far out of his mouth. I look for my running shorts, tighten my laces and start on a route that leads me through a giant rock formation to a spring. The dog turns out to know the way. For an hour he leads me over the best track, rocks and sometimes water.
Around midday we decide to start on the Baviaanskloof.
The Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area lies approximately 120 km. West of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa and comprises of approximately 270 000 ha. of unspoiled, rugged mountainous terrain. Starting in the East at Komdomo, the road leads through the rugged beauty of the “Grootrivier” Gorge on its winding path through this pristine conservancy, all the way towards Willowmore in the West. A total distance of about 203 km. The area offers a wide range of eco-recreational opportunities as well as a unique wilderness experience!
Road Conditions: The road (R332) through the Baviaanskloof is a narrow, steep, gravel surfaced, winding road, through breathtaking mountainous terrain. The distance between Komdomo at the Eastern entrance, to Willowmore in the West, is approximately 203 km. The traveling time however, is 6 to 8 hours. Presently the stretch of road between Cambria and Geelhoutbos can only be accessed with a 4×4.
Our tire pressure, which we adjusted to the terrain, helps us on the uneven path that we follow, but it doesn’t do us any good against the low hanging branches scraping against the side of the car and windows. We’re both sitting straight up in our seats and try to follow the movements of the car. Like a compass used on ships we adjust to the angle of inclination. We are startled when a branch scrapes over our roof rack and makes a very loud noise. We push the car through a reedy passage and follow the stream of a shallow overgrown river to the other side where we hit the gravel again. Groups of baboons run away for this giant white car invading their habitat.
This road leads us up to a narrow pass andwhen we are halfway up we encounter a group of Landrover Defenders. We try to put our car as far off the road as we can to let them pass. We get strained, but friendly smiles before they drive out of sight.
I hadn’t realised how technical this drive would be, otherwise we would have left well before midday. I can feel the sweat trickle down my forehead while I try to steer the car over the best track.
Suddenly a rock hits the inside of the wheel. Immediately we can hear a high pitched whistling noise. We stop the car on a slope and I get underneath the car to assess the damage. A rock turns out to have hit the protective shield for the brake disc. The shield is now pushed against the brake disc which makes the noise. By using a large screwdriver I manage to create some space between the two.
We set up camp in the dark right after we get out of the Baviaanskloof at a place where they farm limes and tobacco next to having a camping site.