Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Swartberg Pass Part 1

One of the highlights (literally and figuratively) of the holiday was getting to drive over the Swartberg Pass outside Oudtshoorn. The pass links the Klein Karoo with the Great Karoo and its always been very high on my "to do" list. The Swartberg Pass was built by one of South Africa's great pass builders, Thomas Bain, between 1881 and 1883. The construction work was done by convict labourers and the pass was officially opened on 10 January 1888. The pass is 24 km (feels much longer) long and is 1585 meters above sea level at its highest point. The beauty of it is that it's still a dirt road pass and most people using it goes to enjoy the scenery which means the going is nice and slow.

You leave Oudtshoorn on the Cango Caves road. About 30km from town you turn off and after another stretch of tar the road becomes gravel and the fun starts. Even though its gravel, the road is more than good enough for a sedan and as you can see I drove it in my Chev Aveo.

Driving up the southern side of the pass is actually the easy part of it. The road isn't too steep and its mostly a gradual climb to the top.

All along the way there are spots to pull over and enjoy the view. The Klein Karoo side of the Swartberg is mostly farming area and although its a very dry part of the country, it seems that the valleys are very fertile judging by the amount of farming taking place in them.

At the top (1585 meters) we pulled over for a breather and to enjoy the view towards the north. We didn't spent to much time outside though as the forcasted temperature for the day was 41C. Part 2 of the Swartberg Pass tomorrow.
GPS: 33°21'29.24"S, 22° 3'9.05"E


  1. WOW Jonker, this is awesome! Love the views. Can hardly wait to see for myself.

  2. Lovely pictures of a very beautiful part of South Africa.

  3. What beautiful views from up there Jonker. Did you go to the Caves as well? I hope you took some pictures to show us. Another place I have not been to for years.

  4. That is so pretty! I often wonder why we sometimes have a fascination to visit overseas countries when we have such a beautiful country ourselves!

  5. Ya, this has always been high on our to do list as well. We went a short way into the "mouth" of it at Prince Albert a few years back, but didn't have time to drive through to De Hell, which i have always wanted to see.... oh well, ONE day! Suzi-k