Bakoondhoogte Pass (R60)

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Bakovendhoogte Bakovendhoogte - Photo: H.J. van Zyl

This scenic pass is located roughly midway between Ashton and Swellendam on the tarred R60 route. It offers beautiful and sometimes dramatic views in every direction and more or less follows the east-west axis of the Langeberg Mountains.  We apologize for the half completed road refurbishment project in the video clip, but Stop/Go's are a part of our daily lives and we endure them happily in the sure knowledge that the authorities are working on vital infrastructure like roads.



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Note: Google Earth software reads the actual topography and ignores roads, cuttings, tunnels, bridges and excavations. The Google Earth vertical-profile animation generates a number of parallax errors, so the profile is only a general guide of what to expect in terms of gradients, distance and elevation. The graph may present some impossible and improbably sharp spikes, which should be ignored.

Digging into the details:

The pass starts in the east at the bottom of the Leeurivier Valley, itself a particularly attractive valley with the crystal clear waters from the Langeberg tumbling over white boulders as the Leeu River heads seaward. A glance all the way up to the top of the mountain on the right will reveal a distinct cleft. This is the well known "Vensterbank" (Window Sill). The Swellendam Hiking Trail is a 5 to 8 day slog through the Marloth Nature Reserve and goes right past Vensterbank, revealing the R60 and farmlands very far below.

Bakoondhoogte translates into 'Baking Oven Heights' and the original Dutch name 'Bakovendhoogte' still apears on the map for the farm on the northern side of the pass tucked into a green side valley.

VensterbankVensterbank, with a waterfall closer to camera - as viewed from the start of the pass / Photo georgvgStraight after the Leeurivier farm, the road starts ascending in a wide climb to the right, then straightens out for a kilometer and a half with orchards to the right along the river bank and wheat fields to the left. Soon after passing the Bakovenhoogte farmstead, the road ascends steeply and commences a wide left hand curve through a deep cutting. Immediately after the cutting there is a small triangular dam on the right. This is the spot where the major water damage occurred in 2012. If you watch the video clip carefully, in the Google earth fly-past the construction site on the damaged section can be seen clearly and it shows the extent of the damage. This caused the complete closure of the R60 between Bonnievale and Swellendam for almost a year. The darker patch of tar is the only reminder of that day.

At the point where the dam is, the road levels off briefly. This is a typical "false summit' scenario. After the dam there is another climb, but not quite as steep. The true summit is reached 1,5 km further. The old road can still be seen in the fly-past imagery both to the south and north of the existing road. It shows how much better the new line is in terms of gradient, corners and safety.

At the summit, the direction of the road changes to WNW and straightens out towards Ashton (30 km). Close to the summit on the right (north) is the Waterval farm, which is aptly named. Look out for the highest peak along this pass, which is the Leeurivierberg at 1628m.

Labourers Cottage Bakoondshoogte PassA traditional labourers cottage near the pass with the Langeberg in the background / Photo: Rob Harris

Fact File:


S34.002788 E20.331439


S33.985240 E20.296132


S33.985240 E20.296132














4,35 km




10 minutes


100 kph


Tar (R60)






Swellendam (20km)

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Mountain Passes South Africa

Mountain Passes South Africa is a website dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.

Passes are classified according to provinces and feature a text description, Fact File including GPS data, a fully interactive dual-view map and a narrated YouTube video.

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