Baviaans to Bay – 137km over 10 days (8 days’ hiking)
Would you like to hike from the Baviaanskloof Mountains to the south eastern most 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 Klein Karoo, in the Steytlerville District, and once over the Baviaanskloof Mountains you just follow ancient roads over many more hills until you get to Kareedouw in the Langkloof. The Chokka Trail starts a mere 60km to the south in Oyster Bay and finishes in St Francis Bay.
We have set dates between March and November, and group sizes are limited to 14 people, of which 6 can be on horseback for the Baviaans Camino leg.
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 a medium sized bag – clothes and extra snacks (things you feel you cannot hike without) plus energy drinks (preferably powder/mixes).
Tents (if and when necessary), matrases and chairs will be supplied. 99% of the route has no cell phone reception. The organisers will have a satelite phone for emergencies. A support vehicle 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 Willowmore by 16h (transport not included in the rate and can be organised from Port Elizabeth or George Airport or Cape St Francis). We all will have dinner together at our accommodation in Willowmore.
After an early breakfast we will be transported to Nakop. The trail starts with a 400m climb over the first 4km, traversing the Baviaanskloof Mountain, followed by a 7km descent into the Kloof. Overnight accommodation is 3km further on the farm Joachimskraal in an old farmhouse. A cooked dinner or braai is enjoyed around the fire, 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.
The last few kilometres into a kloof leads to Modderhuisie at Entkraal. 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.
Accommodation is in another old farmhouse in Nooitgedacht, where oil lamps are the only source of light at night.
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 in the Oyster Kaya. If you need to restock on anything, you can do so in Kareedouw.
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) before we end the hike at the Cape St Francis Resort. You will enjoy a canal cruise before dinner.
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 share our last meal together at a local 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.