Thursday, February 24, 2011

Retief (Voortrekker) Pass

Driving up the Olivierhoek Pass over the Drakensberg in comfort only having to dodge the occasional pothole, I was wondering how tough it must have been for the Voortrekkers to get down this mountain during the Great Trek in 1837. On a visit to the Voortrekker Monument outside Pretoria I saw the painting above and I imagine it must have been one of the most dangerous parts of their journey.  Finding the best place down and then making your own path to take a fully laden ox wagon as well.

The original trail carved by the Great Trek's ox wagons is known as Retief Pass (sometimes also called Voortrekker Pass).  It is down this path that Piet Retief's party went in 1837 in their quest for freedom and a land of their own.  Standing on top of the mountain at this point it doesn't look to challenging, but the first problem would have been finding this spot and then to make your way down it.

The pass was declared a national monument in 1977 and at the top of the mountain stands a small pyramid to mark the spot where the pass starts.  From this spot you can see the Kaalvoet Vrou Monument, while Retief Rock is only a few kilometers away.  To get to the monument you have to take a dirt road for about 20 kilometers or so, but it was quite decent and I did it very easily in my Chev Aveo.


  1. Interesting post, we have it easy now with four wheels that are motorised!!! Thanks for your comment on my blog. Avebury will be posted in the next couple of weeks. Diane

  2. I love the stories about the Voortrekkers....and then seeing the surrounds puts the stories together to create a picture in my head...
    GREAT shots and love the blue sky

  3. Hats off to the early pioneers and settlers of any still "wild" land. After being in the Bergs it's hard to imagine going into them with wagons. That view from the pass is Magnificent.

  4. It is a breathtaking view from the top of the pass. Wagon transport up and down would have been treacherous indeed!! Brave and tough people those pioneers!