Scenic Mountain Passes
We will need an early start for this tour of unsurpassed scenic splendour over five mountain passes, giving unparalleled photo opportunities for the professional and amateur photographer. This tour is a must for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and appreciates ever changing countryside. Your experienced tour guide will drive you in air-conditioned comfort through some of the most amazing scenery anywhere on earth!
Take the back roads past numerous vineyards, as well as wheat, sheep and dairy farms to the town of Wellington. Beyond the town, the Bainskloof Pass beckons. Built by that Scots-born master roadbuilder, Andrew Geddes Bain, it winds up the mountainside overlooking the valley far below, where the towns of Paarl and Wellington lie snug against the Paarl mountain. A gradual descent following the river course takes us towards the fruit growing valley near Ceres.
Du Toitskloof Pass
Cross the narrow bridge over the river and turn right towards the Du Toitskloof Pass. The road takes us past fruit orchards and vineyards until we start our ascent of the original Pass. This pass was constructed by Italian prisoners-of- war taken captive in North Africa during the Second World War, many of whom returned to South Africa as immigrants after peace was declared. On reaching the top, the quiltwork of cultivated fields lies below, with Table Mountain in the distance. Descend into the Paarl valley and turn left towards Franschhoek – the valley of the Huguenots.
Drive slowly through Franschhoek and stop at the Huguenot Memorial which was erected to commemorate the arrival of the French Protestants in 1688. Time for a snack and something to drink before negotiating the Franschhoek Pass. Pause for a photo at a viewpoint halfway up and then follow the winding road to the top and down the other side past flowering proteas, erica and other indigenous plants into the next valley. The road follows the Theewaterskloof dam and the crosses it to take us to the valley where the bulk of South Africa’s apples and pears are produced.
Three enormous complexes in this region process the fruit and load it directly into refrigerated containers for shipping. Exit the valley with the climb up Viljoen’s Pass, named after the man who is regarded as the father of the Cape’s apple farming community. Stop for an impressive view of the valley at a vantage point before crossing the mountain to the little town of Grabouw. Stop just before our next turn-off to browse around an interesting little farm stall, possibly even tasting some of the local wine.
Sir Lowry’s Pass
A short drive takes us to a view site at the top of Sir Lowry’s Pass, from where we look down on the Cape Peninsula with views of Strand and Somerset West, all the way to Table Mountain. On the descent, Gordon’s Bay and Cape Point are also to be seen. Time permitting, drive into Strand and follow the beach road to the end of the town. Intercept the highway back to Cape Town to arrive at your guest house or hotel in the late afternoon.