This so-called ‘valley of baboons’ lies between the Kouga mountains to the south and the Bavaiaanskloof to the north. It has been the site of human habitation for something like 20 000 years so caves, rock paintings and food storage pits of KhoiSan hunter-gatherers are on the menu too, if that’s where your interest lies. The road itself forms part of a more recent history, being the last built by master pass-builder Thomas Bain (of Swartberg Pass fame) before he died in 1893.
We were completely seduced by the peace, the wilderness atmosphere and the general helpfulness of the locals. When we overshot a turnoff and pulled over before reversing, a woman in a bakkie stopped to find out if we were alright; drivers of passing cars waved; even the men fixing the roads after heavy rains earlier in the year took time to wave and smile. Stop at a shop and you’ll find yourself chatting with the shopkeeper about this and that.
It’s life at a slower pace, with time to be ‘naais’. Our most negative interaction – if you can really call it that – was when we tried to pay one shopkeeper with a R200 note. ‘We’re not allowed to accept those,’ he told us sadly. Clearly, the drama surrounding the recall of the old note some six months earlier had only just penetrated into the kloof …
More about the Baviaanskloof
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