Ouberg Pass (P2204)

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Weird shaped rocks on the pass Weird shaped rocks on the pass - Photo: Photo: Trygve Roberts

This short, steep and scenic pass offers outstanding views with weathered rocks, waterfalls, proteas and mountain fynbos in a pristine and virtually untouched part of the Western Cape in it's far northern sector. There are two ways to access the pass. The recommended route is to drive the Gifberg Pass first from Vanrhynsdorp and descend via this (Ouberg) pass providing a superb 55km loop ending back in Vanrhynsdorp. Allow two and a half hours.

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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 other option is to approach the pass directly from Vanrhynsdorp, but this is by far the less scenic option. Our video was filmed from south to north (descending) and in our description we will guide you along the 18 km eastern mountain plateau section from the summit of the Gifberg Pass to the summit of the Ouberg Pass. If you intend driving this loop, it is imperative to read the description and watch the video on the Gifberg Pass as all the relevant information required is on that page.

Once you're at the summit of the Gifberg Pass, you will see a 4 way intersection. Take the gravel road to the left, marked OUBERG. Ignore another road leading off to the left soon after the start of the Ouberg road, as it leads to the farm Van Taaks Kom.

The road heads in a south easterly direction for 2,7km, then descends 50 vertical metres down a small unnamed pass which includes two very sharp hairpins. The road heads  SSE for a few hundred metres, then passes throught the Vondeling farmstead, where the road forks. Keep left.(The right hand hand fork goes to the Kleinplaas farm.)

4,5km after the fork a small peak can be seen on the right hand side of the road. This is Ordonans Kop [465,4m]. The heading remains in a general easterly direction and after a further 4 km the road swings through a sharp S bend past the farm Karkas. There are several closed farm gates along this section. The public are allowed through on the proviso that every gate is left as you find it. The gates are there to control the movement of the farmers livestock. Ensure you comply with this rule to ensure that these roads remain publicly accessible.

Another 2,5km brings you to another mini-pass where the road curves through a small ravine, which includes an extremely sharp right hand bend followed by a 170 degree right hand hairpin. The going is slow along these roads, so the bends shouldn't present any real problems. The direction changes more into the north-east from this point as the road passes through the farm Vaalsyfer and 4 km after the previous hairpin, you will arrive at the start (summit) of the Ouberg Pass.

Summit and start of the Ouberg PassAbove: The start and summit of the Ouberg Pass at 448m ASL / Photo: Trygve Roberts

It's not quite in the same league as the Gifberg Pass, but the descent does offer beautful views over the distant plains as the road drops down through gnarled rock formations. The descent is quite steep with a gradient of 1:11, but some sections are as steep as 1:6. The road drops rapidly down towards a small koppie, where a green watertank is visible on the left hand side of the road. This is a balancing tank for a nearby farm and there is a farm gate adjacent to the tank, which is usually open.

Descending the first part of the Ouberg PassAbove: Descending to the water tank during the first third of the pass / Photo: Trygve RobertsFrom the gate the road curves away to the left (NW) revealing a panoramic view ahead. This specific point is the perfect place to stop and take a photograph. If you look up to your left, you will see a tall peak. This is Katkop [539,7m] and is the highest peak in the immediate area around the Ouberg Pass. The road descends for a further 800m, then enters a sharp right hand turn of 120 degrees as the direction changes into the north and the gradient eases as the road descends to the level of the wide plains of the Knersvlakte.

At the bottom of the pass there is a turn-off to the left (west) which is well marked with signs and a blue flag. This is the access road to the well known farm Waterval, where self catering cottages can be rented and a campsite is available. This farm gives access to the beautiful Maskam waterfall as well as hiking trails and a 4x4 route.

Soon the road forms a Y-junction with another gravel road. Keep left and continue on this road for 26 km as it follows the eastern side of the Troe-Troe river into Vanrhynsdorp.

Matsikamma WaterfallAbove: The Matsikamma waterfall as seen from the top of the mountain / Photo: Deon van der Westhuizen

The Ouberg Pass is part of a plan early in the last century for a route to allow farmers in the Bokkeveld Karoo to get their produce to the railhead at Klawer. The idea was for the farmers to build the road from Oudrif on the Doring River to the summit and the Government to build the pass from the summit down to Vanrhynsdorp. Aerial photographs from the Surveyor General's office show the old road clearly. (Info for this para. submitted by Nigel Amschwand)

Close up of the waterfallAnd from below..... Photo - Panoramio

Fact File:

GPS START  S31.802903 E18.909447
GPS SUMMIT S31.802903 E18.909447
GPS END  S31.785983 E18.916860
AVE GRADIENT 1:11 (Specific 1:11,28)
DISTANCE 2,81 km
TIME REQUIRED 12 minutes
SURFACE Gravel (P2204)
DATE FILMED 20.12.2014
NEAREST TOWN Vanrhynsdorp (28km)

Route Map:

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Route files:

||Click to download: Ouberg Pass (P2204)


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