Swartberg Pass?


Nov 15th, 2002, 06:51 AM
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Swartberg Pass?

We are travelling to South Africa in February 2003 and are planning on Cape Town, the Winelands, and the Garden Route. Here is my question: we are thinking about driving to the Garden Route via a stay over in Swellendam or Montagu and then a stay in Prince Albert or Oudtshoorn (and then down to Knysna). Mainly because we want to see the Swartberg Pass and surrounds. Does anyone have any thoughts on whether this "detour" is worth it at the sacrifice of two more nights along the Garden route? (so far, we have 4 nights on garden route - Knysna, Storms River, and Jeffreys Bay). Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
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Nov 15th, 2002, 12:15 PM
Selwyn Davidowitz
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Hello Angie,

Let me upset the apple car by first giving you another piece of information.
IF possible turn your whole trip around by STARTING in Port Elizabeth and ENDING in Cape Town. I have written this up before on the Fodors page as advice so here is a cut and paste of the previous advice:

My reason for suggesting this route is that one should always do the Garden
Route ahead of Cape Town as the journey is a crescendo of events where Cape
Town is the climax. If you travel making Cape Town your first port of call
then the Garden Route falls slightly flat. I am not being arrogant when I
say this and please trust me on this issue. I know that most tour books will
tell you differently, however what the tour book writers write about is what they hear from what everyone else does and suggests; what I tell you is what I have experienced over and over and if you want me too I will send you tons of names of people to contact who will tell you that what I am suggesting to you is correct in that they have experienced this already after originally having travelled the Cape Town - PE way so many times. So IF you can swop the journey around do so.

Now that I have upset the apple cart slightly let me tell you about the Swartberg Mountains. It is WITHOUT A SHADOW OF DOUBT one of the most underrated tour events in South Africa and in my opinion should be an ABSOLUTE MUST on anyone’s journey if they are crossing through the Garden Route or Karroo regions. It is a most exhilarating ride. You are unlikely to ever see a mountain pass like this in your life again. The iconoclastic rock formations are unique and the colors of the mountain simply have to be seen to be believed. When you travel up a mountain that is 1500 Metres high on a single lane gravel road that was built by the master builder Thomas Baines you will initially get feelings similar to those of my visitors who have travelled up the Swarberge with me of "this is insane" yet once they have ascended and descended the mountain they all come out saying “WOW that was a most amazing ride”.

I would suggest that on the day you travel to Oudtshoorn and ascend the Swartberge from the Oudtshoorn side. Spend a while in Prince Albert and return to Oudtshoorn via Meiringspoort which is in its own right an amazing 12 km canyon through the Swartberge. That night you should stay over in Oudtshoorn and to cap a wonderful day go to Jemimas restaurant in the town. You will never forget this restaurant as it is so good. http://www.showcook.co.za/jemimas.htm

A good and very interesting place to stay in Oudthshoorn is Shades of Africa guesthouse http://www.shades.co.za

In summary DONT leave out the Swartberge, no matter what. If you need any further advice please feel free to write to me and I can assure you I will help you as best I can.

Selwyn Davidowitz

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