Rust en Vrede Pass (P1713)

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Ostriches are synonomous with the Little Karoo Ostriches are synonomous with the Little Karoo - Photo: Pic: Kobus Pretorius

South Africa and especially the Klein Karoo (Little Karoo) has some of the finest gravel roads for the purpose of eco-tourism. With the popularity of the GPS, these minor roads are just waiting to be discovered. The Rust en Vrede Pass (Rest and Peace) provides a fabulous drive along a gravel road with sufficient gradient and curves to make it a memorable mountain pass. It follows the east/west axis of the Swartberg Mountains on its southern side.

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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 road is designated as route P1713 and connects the R328 just north of Schoemanspoort in the west with the N12, south of De Rust. It is primarily a standard farm road and connects the farming community with their markets. In general the road is maintained to a good standard, but heavy rain can always change conditions rapidly. Modify your speed according to conditions. This is not a road to be on if you’re in a hurry.

The road to the waterfall The short drive to the waterfall is worth the effort during the rainy months / Photo HJ van Zyl

We filmed from west to east, but the road can be driven equally enjoyably from either side.

Getting there: From Oudtshoorn head north on the tarred R328 towards the Cango Caves via Schoemanspoort (featured elsewhere on this website). At the crossing of the Grobbelaars River towards the northern side of the poort, a gravel road leads off to the right (east). This is your road and it’s marked as the P1713.

The road follows a narrow kloof alongside the Klein Leroux Rivier. This road is also known as the Ou Muragie Road. This is the name of a large farming settlement towards the eastern end of the P1713, close to the the junction with the N12 national road. After 4 km, the road rises steeply through a sharp S-bend, where the wall of the substantial Koos Raubenheimer Dam can be seen. As the road gains altitude, the size of the dam becomes apparent. From the point below the dam wall, a minor road heads off to the left. This goes to the Cango Mountain Resort and a single farm, Lentelus.

Rust En Vrede waterfall Rust En Vrede waterfall / Photo: Jan Sucko

The road curls away into the east and passes the De Kango farmstead, where another road heads off to the left, which leads to a smaller reservoir, the Mellville Dam. From this turn-off it’s another 4 km to the start of the pass. The road dips down towards a dense stand of trees, where a sign welcomes the visitor to stop and enjoy a picnic. A road heads off to the left and ultimately leads to a waterfall some 3 km to the north. This is the Rust en Vrede Waterfall. On the day of filming in January, 2015, the picnic area was locked with a gate and closed to the public. This is also the western start of the Rust en Vrede Pass.

The road heads directly into the east for 1,2 km, then crests a small hill and drops down into a small transverse valley, formed by the Grootrivier. There are many very sharp corners on this pass, especially towards the eastern side. The long mountain to your right (south) is the Rooiberg.

After the second climb, the road drops sharply into a 90 degree left hand curve, then turns back into the east in a wide right hand bend. At the next left hand turn, a track leads off to the left to a small farm dam. The road drops down into a very sharp (120 degree) right hand bend as the road curls through a small ravine. A small farm appears on the left which is Wakker Loop (Walk Awake) and on the right is the main farmstead of Rust en Vrede.

The final bend is a carbon copy of the previous one, with a left hand curve going into a razor sharp right hand bend through a second ravine. This is also the eastern finishing point of this pass. The entire section of the Little Karoo is fed by a myriad of streams that flow down the southern face of the towering Swartberg range as it traps the cool and moist air blowing up from the coast causing regular orographic rainfall. A wide range of crops and livestock do well in this invigorating climate.

Fact File:

GPS START  S33.410335 E22.338137
GPS SUMMIT S33.413160 E22.377418
GPS END  S33.413325 E22.383302
TIME REQUIRED 12 minutes
SURFACE Gravel [P1713]
DATE FILMED 27.01.2015
NEAREST TOWN De Rust (20km)

Route Map:

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From Address:

Route files:

||Click to download: Rust en Vrede Pass (Note - this is a .kmz file which can be opened in Google Earth and most GPS devices)

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