Montagu Pass

The Montagu Pass is one of the four passes that traverse the Outeniqua Mountains and it links George with the village of Herold. The Pass was opened in 1848 and is the oldest, unaltered Pass in South Africa!

Montagu Pass was the first road between George and Oudtshoorn and the main route between Cape Town and Grahamstown. Before this, there was only the difficult wagon trail pass – the Cradock Pass.

Distance 17.3km
Gradient average 1:16
Gradient maximum 1:14
Summit 742m
Surface Dirt Road

Work began in 1844, planned by Engineer Charles Michell and with H.O. Farrell as Superintendent. In 1945 Farrell was replaced by Henry Fancourt White, whose name is now preserved in the Fancourt Estate. Montagu Pass was completed in 1848 after taking three years to build by approximately 250 convicts at a cost of £36 000. The Pass was the first to be built utilising mainly convict labour. It was named after the Chief of the Central Roads Board, John Montagu.

Shortly after starting the Pass from George you will reach the first sign set up by the George Museum in 1976, “Die Rus”, which was an outspan where men and their animals could rest. Travelling on an upward incline the next landmark is the Old Tollhouse where you can stop for coffee and pancakes and admire the view.

The Montagu Pass is truly an incredibly scenic and well worth taking a slow drive along. Another attraction is the Old Smithy Stop which marks the halfway mark and where once again you can stop and admire the views. This spot is where the tools used to build the Pass were once sharpened and repaired.

 The Pass has a few sharp turns and the dirt road is not very wide, in some places only wide enough for one vehicle to pass at a time, so please heed the warning signs and stay within the speed limit and keep a lookout for cyclists.

Thing to do and see

  • Viewpoints
  • Outeniqua Mountains
  • The Old Tollhouse
  • Keur River Bridge
  • Stinkhout Draai Railway Bridge
  • Old Smithy Stop
  • Hiking Trails
  • Mountain Bike Route
  • Herold Wine Farm


There is no charge to travel along the pass and it is recommended to travel during daylight hours only.

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