If you haven’t travelled the Swartberg Pass you have missed an amazing South African experience. The Lonely Planet books rate this pass as the best in South Africa and I am inclined to agree with them – and believe me I have seen some amazing passes in my life. The pass is 25 km long and we took 2 hours 30 minutes to get to Prince Alfred from the foot of the pass. Why, well come with us, and do see why and what you have missed in not following it.
The Swartberg pass is a Bains pass and, as with all Bains passes has an almost artistic flow to it. It also has a a prison on it, reminding us that the passes in early South Africa were constructed with convict labour.
The pass starts off slowly and the local (Oudtshoorn) backpacker lodges provide bikes and transport to the top and you can ride down the pass on a bike. Not something I would recommend to the faint heartd or those who do not like being shaken.
Pretty flowers, calm slopes lure you into the pass.
Why is Amanda holding the flowers? The wind is already blowing strongly here.
The ruins of a toll gate.
Typical of a Bains Pass, dry walling is the norm, not the exception. Where he got his dry wallers from, I do not know, but the dry walls still stand.
The road as Tolkein wrote, “Goes ever on.”
And then we met the time waster. A golden banded sunbird. We stalked it for nearly half an hour before getting these pictures.
And then the top. Note the effects of the wind. The tripods were being blown over.
Looking down the other side of the pass.
Flowers. The wind is gone again.
A clever depth of field picture.
This what those curves look like properly focused.
And then it just keeps on dropping.
Looking back up the way we had come.
How did we get some of those pictures. Simple we climbed.
Cape Fold Mountains. You can see why they are called that.
How does one relax on Swartberg Pass? Tai Chi of course.