This week, we take pleasure in introducing you to a marvellous (and little known) gravel pass in the Western Cape, close to Wolseley. We discovered this pass whilst researching another obscure pass in this beautiful area. Whilst the gradients on the pass are quite reasonable, the road follows a convoluted route with several sharp switchbacks, up the mountain to a higher altitude plateau in the mountains, previously utilized as a pine plantation, but today is being progressively handed over to Cape Nature as part of the Waterval Nature Reserve.
At present the road is still under the control of Cape Pine (the old SAFCOL) and a permit is required to ulitilise the road. We provide details of how and where permits are obtainable. The area is designated for the use of mountain bikers, birders and hikers, but vehicles are allowed up the pass, subject to permit conditions.
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This is a beautiful gravel pass that ascends the eastern side of the Watervalsberg near Wolseley and connects the town with the Suurvlak plantation on top of the mountain. The pass falls under the jurisdiction of Cape Nature as well as the state's forestry arm in the Western Cape (Cape Pine). The road is open to permit holders only - we explain the process of getting the permit lower down on this page. The pass zig-zags its way up the mountain via three extreme switchbacks, at a fairly reasonable gradient and is well designed, offering exceptionally good views over the Tulbagh Valley and the Witzenberg mountains to the east. (Latest news as at Nov 2016 - this pass is now officially closed to the public)
The Bain's Kloof Pass (R301) provided a more direct route from the town of Wellington to the more northern towns of Ceres and Worcester, in the Western Cape.
It is 26,8 km in length from the bridge over the Breede River to the outskirts of Wellington. Built circa 1849 by Andrew Geddes Bain, this pass was a tough nut to crack, working with convicts and raw, rough materials and methods. As always seemed to be the case with Bain, he oversaw a marvellous job of the pass which, having stood the test of time, is now a national monument.
The more dramatic, northern section of the pass roughly follows the course of the Witte River, a raging torrent during the wet winter season.
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.