Karretjies Pass

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Karretjies Pass viewed from the summit, looking east Karretjies Pass viewed from the summit, looking east - Photo: Trygve Roberts

The Karretjies Pass is a rough, narrow track that descends down a side arm of the Bobbejaanskloof, itself a side canyon to the much bigger Doring River canyon. Although this pass is short at just 1,5 km and has an altitude variance of only 72m, it is the rough nature of the road that makes it something of a challenge. It offers majestic canyon views, steep drop-offs and a feeling of intense isolation in a harsh and barren landscape.

The road has been hacked out of the side of the mountain and is only just wide enough for one vehicle. Overtaking or passing is impossible. You will need a high clearance 4x4 to drive this pass and low range will be an advantage for more precise control. The pass forms part of the Old Postal Route that connects the Biedouw valley in the west with the Eilandsvlei farm near the R355 in the east in the Tankwa Karoo. Do not attempt this pass without reviewing our page on the Old Postal Route first, which contains very important information on navigation and safety.

Scroll down to view the map & video. It is recommended to watch this video in HD. (Click on the "quality" button on the lower taskbar of the video screen and select 720HD.) Wait a few seconds for the video to display.....


[Video cover photo by Trygve Roberts]

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Note: Google earth software reads the actual topography and ignores roads, cuttings, tunnels, bridges and excavations. The vertical profile animation can generate a number of parallax errors, so the profile is only a general guide as what to expect in terms of gradients, distances and elevation. The graph may produce some improbable and impossibly sharp spikes, which should be ignored.

Digging into the details:

Getting there: As this pass forms part of the 53 km long Old Postal Route, which we have covered in full elsewhere on this website and because the navigation is complex when approaching from the east, please take the hyperlink to the Old Postal Route for detailed and accurate directions from either side. You should not attempt this pass without having fully digested the contents and videos of the Old Postal Route which will prepare you properly for this trip.

We filmed this pass from west to east in the descending mode. It starts just south of the narrowest point of a secondary kloof of the Bobbejaanskloof, a few kilometres west of the Doring River. The starting point is just before an S-bend in the jeep track at an altitude of 562m.

Karretjies Pass halfwayHalfway down the pass / Photo: Trygve Roberts

If you're travelling in a group, it's best to stop before the pass proper begins. the terrain is flat and stony with plenty of space to pull over. Park your vehicle(s) and take the short walk to the lip of the canyon. This in itself is an excellent spot to capture the sheer size and scope of the canyon, but it offers the additional bonus of having the opportunity toexamine the state of the track on foot, which wll stand you in good stead to choose superior driving lines, when you tackle it in your vehicle. 

After the first S-bend, the road suddenly reaches the edge of the canyon and bends sharply and steeply to the right as it hugs the southern-most buttress. The views are jaw-dropping, but drivers will need 100% concentration down this pass. Select low range (if your vehicle is so equipped) and crawl your way down the track being mindful not to get any sidewall cuts from the thousands of sharp rocks scattered along this pass.

The Bobbejaanskloof widens quickly from around 50m at its narrowest point to almost a kilometre wide where it joins the Doring River canyon, which is visible from the vantage point of the pass. The terrain is harsh and peppered with rocks and stones and not much vegetation, as the ancient and timeless landscape lies spread out below you like a 3D geology model.

The road can be seen some distance ahead as it descends slowly along the southern side of the kloof. Although the pass is short, it takes around 10 minutes to drive it, due to the slow speed that is necessary.

The pass ends at the 1,5 km mark, opposite a ridge on the right, where the altitude is 490m ASL. From here the road loops around a big right hand bend and follows the Doring River canyon all the way down to the river crossing point. 

Fact File:


S32.254169 E19.458351


S32.254169 E19.458351


S32.254394 E19.473363














1,5 km




10 minutes 




Gravel & jeep track






Calvinia (110 km)

Route Map:

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From Address:

Route files:

||Click to download: Karretjies Pass (Note - This is a .kmz file which can be opened in Google earth and most GPS software)


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