For the fifth time, since 2018, Diverge.info will be hosting a year-starting bikepacking trip. This year the route takes in the spectacular Baviaans Mega Reserve, travelling east from Willowmore before crossing the Kouga mountains and dropping into the Patensie. Then the course turns north west, ascending the Baviaanskloof, back towards Willowmore. In total the four days will include 374 kilometres of riding, with 6 480 metres of climbing.
Nearly half of the route’s elevation gain comes on Day 3, which takes the tour from Kondomo on the eastern edge of Eastern Cape Park’s Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve to Uitspan, at the eastern foot of the Nuwekloof Pass. Riders who have ridden Trans Baviaans before will be familiar with sections of the route, despite the switch in direction. While first time visitors will be blown away by the reserve’s dramatic fold mountains. The prospect of large game sightings, including African Buffalo, makes this one of the most trilling Diverge.info trips yet.
Day 0 | 2 January 2024
Cape Town/Stellenbosch to Willowmore
Staying: The Willow Guest House, Willowmore
The Willow: www.willowguesthouse.co.za
Day 0 is a travel day. With Willowmore being located 550 kilometres from Stellenbosch and Somerset West, it is a big drive to get to the starting point. We suggest car-pooling, which will also make it easier for the guest house, who will be accommodating our cars in their parking area. The Willow’s stay includes breakfast on the morning of the 3rd. Supper options in Willowmore are limited to The Willow or Lou’s Place, a restaurant down the road from the guest house.
Note: The Willow only has double/twin rooms, so you will need to share there.
Day 1 | 3 January 2024
102km with 940m of climbing
The Willow to Rietfontein Farm Stay
View the route here.
After a night in luxury the tour departs Willowmore, by bike, on Wednesday, 3 January. Initially the course follows the R332 towards Patensie. But after just 20 kilometres the route veers east, tracing the northern slopes of the Kouga Mountains through the arid Great Karoo. This section of the route is potentially gravel bike friendly, but with Day 3 being likely to be exceptionally rough in places, riders are advised to opt for a mountain bike. From the highest point in the day, at the 24 kilometre mark the profile trends downhill, but two 100 metre gain climbs help provide just under 1 000 metres of climbing on the 102-kilometre-long opening day. That evening the group will be staying in the Rietfontein Farm Stay guest house, where the first night of open fire cooking awaits.
Day 2 | 4 January 2024
100km with 1 800m of climbing
Rietfontein Farm Stay to Kondomo Campsite
View the route here
A great warm-up for the climbs of Day 3, Day 2’s first 65 kilometres are interspersed with climbing. The first 40 kilometres undulate before descending rapidly into the Grootrivier Valley. From the river 20 kilometres of relentless climbing allows for a 15 kilometre descent to Patensie, where the course turns west north west, and the riders stop for lunch at the Padlangs Country Restaurant. The final 20 kilometres to Kondomo are mercifully flat, which makes it easier to enjoy a beer at lunch.
Day 3 | 5 January 2024
125km with 3 040m of climbing
Kondomo Campsite to Uitspan Campsite
View the route here.
Lunch: Bavijaans Padstal | 101km in
Day 3 is the most intimidating day, on paper, but is also sure to be the most rewarding. The R332 from Kondomo to Uitspan is all uphill and takes in four of what are big descents during Trans Baviaans as climbs. The Big Dipper, both Fangs and the climb of the Baviaansback all take place in the wilds of the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve. Buffalo, kudu, bush buck, all manner of birds and maybe even a leopard could well be spotted along this section of the route. This is also another reason for having the support vehicle to provide a noise to keep the buffalo at a safer distance. After exiting the reserve, near the 55 kilometre mark, the course continues to climb steadily passing through the farms of the kloof. After 101 kilometres the group will reach their lunch stop at the Bavijaans Padstal, from where there are 24 kilometres and one final pass, just before Vero’s, left to climb. At Uitspan a cooling dam and a zip line await.
Day 4 | 6 January
47km with 700m of climbing
Uitspan to The Willow Guest House, Willowmore
View the route here.
Lunch: Sophie’s Choice just outside Willowmore on the way home
The final day is the shortest of the four, and features just 47 kilometres of riding. The 700 metres of climbing is not too arduous either, though it does rider the group to climb the Nuwekloof Pass and ascend to the Roof, the highest point of the trip before dropping into Willowmore. After a swim and hopefully a shower at The Willow the tour comes to an end with lunch at Sophie’s Choice, just outside Willowmore en route back to civilisation.
Baviaans Bikepacking Costs
Total: R2 500
Includes all accommodation, conservation fee for Eastern Cape Parks and breakfast on 3 January at The Willow. As well as ProNutro on the other riding days, teas and coffees, braai sides and a few beers. Excludes lunches, other drinks, and dinners.
Baviaans Bikepacking Packing List:
Note that Day 1 does not include a formal lunch stop, so please pack accordingly. Please endeavour to bring all your gear in a storage box, like this 85 litre Addis Roughtote. You will need a sleeping bag, tent and mattress, as well as a towel. But you will not need a camp stove, braai grid or to bring firewood. To download the full packing check-list, click here. This file also includes the GPX files for the route, but the course tracks are downloadable in other formats by clicking on the individual stage links above.
Please also ensure that your meat is frozen before departing on the trip. This will help stop it from spoiling throughout the four-day ride.
- Dinner Day 0: Supper at The Willow or at Lou’s Place in Willowmore.
- Breakfast Day 1: Served by The Willow, as part of the B&B service.
- Lunch Day 1: Trail snacks (own account)
- Supper Day 1: Pack meat/protein to braai (We will be supplying salad and garlic breads).
- Breakfast Day 2: We will be supplying coffee, tea, rusks and ProNutro.
- Lunch Day 2: Lunch at Padlangs near Patensie (own account).
- Supper Day 2: Pack meat/protein to braai (We will be supplying roast vegetables).
- Breakfast Day 3: We will be supplying coffee, tea, rusks and ProNutro.
- Lunch Day 3: Lunch at Bavijaans Padstal (own account).
- Dinner Day 3: Pack meat/protein to braai (We will be supplying roosterbrood and canned vegetables).
- Breakfast Day 4: We will be supplying coffee, tea, rusks and ProNutro.
- Lunch Day 4: Lunch at Sophie’s Choice (own account).
We’ll be supplying ample drinking water
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch. Drop us an email to email@example.com.