Baviaans to Bay – 137km over 10 days (8 days’ hiking)
Would you like to hike from the Baviaanskloof Mountains to the south easternmost tip of Africa in Cape St Francis? Combine two popular hiking trails, the Baviaans Camino and the Chokka Trail, and you have an amazing hiking holiday of 137km over 10 days (arrival and depature dates included).
The Baviaans Camino starts in the Steytlerville District, and once over the Baviaanskloof Mountains you just follow the road over many more hills until you get to Kareedouw in the Tsitsikamma. The Chokka Trail starts a mere 60km to the south in Oyster Bay and finishes in St Francis Bay.
We have set dates between April and September, and group sizes are limited to 12 people, of which 6 can be on horseback for the Baviaans Camino leg.
Baviaans Camino: R7 200 pp plus R1 500 if on horseback, and R4 000 pp for the Chokka Trail. The rate is fully inclusive (accommodation, meals, transport – you only bring or pay for your drinks). No single supplements are available.
What do I need:
Hikers and riders must bring their own hiking/riding gear, day backpack, hiking pole, a headlamp, towels and sleeping bags with small pillow. Be prepared for extreme heat or severe cold. Make sure what you bring will fit into the supplied 55litre crate – clothes, drinks (for the evenings) and extra snacks (things you feel you cannot hike without) plus energy drinks (preferably powder/mixes). You also will receive a small bag with your own cutlery and crockery (read between the lines, you will have to do your own dishes!).
Tents, matrasses and chairs will be supplied. 99% of the route has no cell phone reception. The organisers will have a satelite phone for emergencies and two-way radios between the groups.
Two support vehicles will accompany all groups to ensure safety at all times.
Breakfasts and dinners are cooked, and you will receive a hearty lunch pack for each day.
The accommodation for the Chokka Trail is in guest houses and a resort, so pack a separate bag for the 4 days of the Chokka Trail – you will only need a day pack and hiking pole.
Groups must be in Steytlerville by 14h (transport not included in the rate and can be organised from Port Elizabeth airport or Kareedouw). Riders will be taken to Nakop to meet the horses to get an introduction into grooming and feeding. It will be expected of all riders to take full responsibility of their horse which means feeding twice a day, giving water late at night, grooming and tacking up.
We all will have dinner together at our accommodation in Steylerville.
After an early breakfast we will be transported to Nakop. The trail starts with a 1 200m climb over the first 4km, traversing the Baviaanskloof Mountains, followed by a 7km descent into the Kloof. Overnight accommodation is 3km further on the farm Doringkloof in an old farmhouse. A cooked dinner is enjoyed around the large dining table, a well deserved treat after a challenging day!
The trail starts through some farmland before you tackle the first short uphill for the day. Soon civilazation is forgotten and you start the traverse of the Kouga Mountain Range, with unimpeded views into the Klein Kommando and Tjandokloofs. You move from thorntrees to aloes, cycads, proteas and spekboom, and 95 bird species have been counted here.
At 26km this is the longest day of the hike, the last few kilometres into a kloof to get to Modderhuisie at Entkraal, and we all sleep in tents. As this venue is extremely remote, we all will help with making fire and food.
We start off through the beautiful Kouenek Kortkloof, towards the Joubertskraal River, before you tackle the Kouenek to the highest point, a steep mountain with many false summits! Then a generous and slow reintroduction back to civilazation follows, as you enter the remote farming community of the Nooitgedacht area. This is where you will pass the Nooitgedacht Primary School, the beneficiary of the Baviaans Camino.
Accommodation for a selected few is in a small farmhouse at Ragels River, while the rest will enjoy the beautiful scenery from their tents. Teacher Elmien will provide us with dinner, part of the fundraising efforts of the local school in Nooitgedacht.
We enjoy the early morning trail again through the kloofs around the Ragels River, before we tackle the Moordenaarskloof – by now nothing to fear! We continue through the Posberg Kloof to Nguniland Accommodation on the outskirts of Kareedouw.
After another hearty breakfast we pack up and leave for Oyster Bay, a transfer and rest day. If you need to restock on anything, you can do so in Kareedouw. We will stop at the Oudebosch Farmstall for a light lunch before we book into the Oyster Bay Beach Lodge.
You will explore the coastline between Oyster Bay and Thysbaai, an out and back trail. At Thysfontein, a little beach with a holiday cottage, you might find spoor of the cape clawless otter. The trail continues past a rock gully, where if it is low tide, you can see circular rock walls in the water – it is ancient Koi-San fish traps, more than 2 000 years old.
We will traverse the dunes of the Sand River – a mobile dune field mobilised by wind and water. It changes from week to week, and mapping, marking or even describing this route seems impossible. The first 3km of the dune field have some steep dunes until it opens up and we follow the contours. We will walk through some vegetation, our feet might get wet and it is a challenging day – but nothing beats the feeling of conquering the Sand River! The trail stops at the Dune Ridge Country House.
The hike starts through a beautiful section of coastal forest and coastal thicket until you reach the shoreline. Enjoy walking through this special landscape, filled with bird calls, and keep your eyes open for grey duiker, mongoose, porcupine quills, bushbuck or caracal (watch out for puffies!). Look for otters in the rock pools and keep your eyes open for Oystercatchers, Kelp Gulls, terns, and Turnstones.
You will pass Mostertshoek, and walk along the Wild Side – so named for the untamed sea that crashes onto the rocks in spectacular fashion the length of the trail. You will see the second largest blow hole in SA, an unknown grave, the remains of the HMS Osprey that ran onto the rocks in 1867, as well as the Cape Recife (1029). You will visit the SANCCOB Sea Bird Rehabilitation Centre before you book into the Cape St Francis Resort.
The hike starts at the Resort and follows the footpaths via Shark Point to Port St Francis, where your will enjoy a calamari tasting. You will hike past Bruce’s Beauties to the Granny’s Pool, where you will get to the end of your 137km journey!
We will drive to the St Francis canals for a cruise, and share our last meal together at the Quaysyde Restaurant.
It will be possible to catch a late afternoon flight on day 10. The hike is fully inclusive, and you are accompanied by the owner at all times.