The Beautiful Baviaanskloof People
Step back in time at Kamerkloof right in the middle of the action in the Studtis and Baviaanskloof Hartland historic area. Kamerkloof was part of one of the first farms to be registered in the Baviaanskloof in 1817. Farmers reached the kloof by means of a handmade ‘ossewa’ trail from the western side of the kloof. Between 1880 and 1890 Thomas Bain built the Nuwekloof Pass giving entry to this unique gem.
The Baviaanskloof Hartland has been inhabited by humans since the MiddleStone Age (100,000 to 30,000 years ago), although the prime local evidence of the human presence in the Baviaanskloof is from the Khoisan. The Baviaanskloof is believed to be in a meeting place of the hunter-gatherer San people, who occupied the region until the Khoekhoen arrived about 2000 years ago. Rock art and artefacts are found in the area, making the Baviaanskloof one of the richest archaeological heritage areas in Southern Africa and the world.
European settlement in the Baviaanskloof region commenced in the mid to late 18th century, leading to the marginalization of the Khoisan and the loss of their traditional way of life. The new settlers started shaping the landscape by hunting down to extinction most of the indigenous animals, replacing game with domestic stock, and by cultivating the arable land. Currently, human settlement in the area is mainly composed of community settlements.
Current inhabitants are from various different cultures, mainly Afrikaans, Xhosa, Cape Coloured and KhoiSan descendants. The main economic activities are agriculturally related (crops and deciduous trees and livestock). A new growing industry is ecotourism. The rugged terrain and the isolation of the valley from the marketplace were major constraints and a challenge for the early farmers in the Baviaanskloof. People living in the area suffer from the impacts of periodic natural events, such as floods and droughts.