Explore the Southern Cape passes
There are several southern Cape mountain passes in close proximity to route 62, Port Elizabeth and the Garden Route, which lies between Cape Town and Knysna.
With careful route planning and a small detour you can access these passes – adding great value to an already great route choice.
The Cape has hundreds of mountain passes to choose from and some might be overgrown and hard to find. Others, such as Burchell’s Old Ox Wagon Route and Attaquaskloof can only be achieved in a 4×4 with low range. If you only have a two-wheel-drive sedan, there is no need to worry, as many of the passes are on well-maintained gravel or tar.
Heavy rains sometimes cause extensive damage to many of these passes, so if your trip is planned during the wet season, contact the tourism offices or local authorities beforehand to find out whether the passes are currently open and driveable.
In places like Knysna, you can easily take a day trip, drive several of the areas picturesque passes and eventually return later in the afternoon to where you started. However, if you are travelling from Cape Town towards Knysna on the N2, allow two days to do the journey so that you can take in some of the detours and passes.
Shortly after Swellendam, you can take the R324 towards Suurbraak and Barrydale. You will have to go over the Tradouw Pass to get to Barrydale.
The Tradouw Pass is one of the many passes that were built by master road engineer Thomas Bain in the 19th century. It was erected so that local farmers could supply their fresh produce to the mouth of the Breede River. This pass has many hairpin bends, which were widened and tarred in 1980. When you decide to head back towards the N2, try going via the Cloete’s Pass, Garcia Pass and the Du Plessis Pass.
”…mountain pass options in this area are endless and you’ll enjoy scenery that you might have missed if you had stuck to the national roads”
After the Tradouw Pass, carry on with the R62 and stop off at the famous Ronnies Sex Shop for an afternoon lunch. Then head towards Calitzdorp and take on the spectacular Rooiberg Pass and the Robinsons Pass into Oudtshoorn.
You could spend the night in Oudtshoorn and enjoy a day trip through the Swartberg Pass and Meiringspoort the next morning. You may also prefer to travel over the tarred Outeniqua Pass to get to the Garden Route coastline, in George.
Once you’re in George – don’t take the N2, rather take the 75km 7 Passes Scenic Drive (along the Old Cape Road). This pass starts on the Saasveld road and takes you through large tracts of indigenous forest, over five rivers and through the Homtini Gorge where you’ll finally traverse the Phantom Pass.
There several possibilities available in Knysna, although one of the favourites is the 70km Prince Alfred Pass, north of Knysna towards Avontuur. When you reach De Vlug, you can stop and eat trout or enjoy a cooling swim. Bain’s pass will leave you in awe as you make your way up and down the many hills.
The mountain pass options in this area are endless and you’ll enjoy scenery that you might have missed out on if you had stuck to the national roads.
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