Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Port Elizabeth - Swartberg Pass

Hi everyone,
Today we did a "circuit" from Oudtshoorn, driving over the spectacular Swartberg Pass then back via the Meiringspoort Pass.  The Swartberg Pass was completed in 1888 by Sir Thomas Bain.  It is still a dirt road.  Our little hire car was in first gear for half of the ascent and the brakes were a bit weary at the bottom!

Approaching the pass
Milesone along the pass
As we ascended the southern side of the pass we were enveloped in cloud.  Visibility gradually reduced to about 50m in foggy "mizzle".

Spectacular flowers in the high country
In the fog on top
When we drove over the top of the pass we descended out of the cloud very quickly - the cloud base on the leeward side was far higher than on the windward side.  The scenery which emerged was spectacular.

Emerging from the fog on the lee (north) side
Into the sunshine
Amazing flora and scenery
Once over the high pass there's still work to do.  The road descends dramatically into a deep gorge and runs alongside the river to exit the Swartbergs.

View down into the gorge the pass traverses on its north side
View from inside the gorge
We were a bit worried we'd be disappointed with the pass while ascending through the fog.  In the end the foggy ascent just added to the overall experience.  The pass is an amazing engineering feat and was a lot of fun to see.

The rest of the loop back to Oudtshoorn was a nice drive too.  Mountains all around and interesting farming country between.  We had lunch in Oudtshoorn before driving south to the coast and east to Kynsna where we are staying tonight.

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