Each week we take you to faraway and distant places across our beautiful country and sometimes we uncover little gems right under our noses. This week we introduce you to two passes close to Paarl in the Boland which are inextricably linked by culture and history. One of them is a modern, perfectly designed bit of road engineering with a double chicane bend that ends at the Afrikaans Taal Monument and the other is a much older gravel road, named after an expert wagon builder which provides a lofty view of the Paarl Valley as well as providing access to a wild flower reserve, famous granite rocks, historical relics, hiking trails and mountain bike routes.
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The Jan Phillips Mountain Road (or more correctly Jan Phillips Bergpad) runs along the eastern flank of the famous Paarlberg Mountain, approximately 3/4 of its height and mainly along the 300m contour - and provides access to the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve, Meulwater picnic site and a vast number of hiking and mountain bike trails at the summit of the mountain. Jan Phillips was a respected wagon maker in the town in the 1800's. It's a fairly long gravel road of 10,8 km that starts and ends at either end of the town of Paarl.
It's an easy enough drive for any vehicle, but the road is quite narrow in places. If you comply with the 30 kph speed limit (which very few people do) you will not have any problems. Be wary of corrugations, which can easily cause loss of control. We recommend tyre deflation to 1.4 bar before driving this route.
A short, steep, cul-de-sac road of 2,7km that gives access to the seat of the Afrikaans language situated on a beautiful granite rock system on the western slopes of Paarlberg. The road is tarred, modern and well designed, but it is fairly steep with an average gradient of 1:13 and the steepest sections being at 1:6 near the turn-off to the amphitheatre. Regardless of whether you are Afrikaans or not, a visit to this holy grail of the young language of South Africa's Dutch pioneers, is a must if you are in the Paarl area. The monument, it's design, and the grounds attract large numbers of visitors for the aesthetic beauty of the architecture and the immaculate grounds and gardens. It speaks volumes for the Afrikaans people.
The old Du Toits Kloof Pass (officially designated as the R101) is 11km longer than the newer N1 route, and is certainly worth choosing over the new route if you're not in a hurry! Its grand, dramatic mountain views and elegantly constructed, tunnel whisks one back in time to an older, almost forgotten era -- when World War 2 impactfully changed the world with its bombs, genocide and bittersweet victories.
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.
We are as passionate about maps as we are about mountain passes. A good map is a thing of beauty that can transport you into the mists of time or get your sense of adventure churning. It is a place to make discoveries about deserts and seas, mountains and lakes; of roads leading into places you have not been before; a place to pore over holiday destinations or weekend camping trips. A map is your window to the world.