South Africa
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The Swartrivier Pass (Black River Pass) forms the first part of the historical Seven Passes route between George and Knysna. The Phantom Pass, built by Thomas Bain at the Knysna end, was the first to be completed along this route, but the Swartrivier Pass was being built at the same time from the George end, by Thomas Bain’s brother-in-law Adam de Smit. The pair disagreed vehemently about the routing of the road, which led to bitter acrimony and a lifelong "no speak" scenario.

Distance3.7 km
Gradient average 1:54
Gradient maximum 1:11
Elevation Start 214m
Surface Tar

Research shows that there are in fact 8 passes however, and although it is not official, some people do not consider it part of the historical route as the Pass has changed so much over the years since the routes completion in 1883 .

The Swartrivier Pass is a modern, tar road with smooth, sweeping bends making this pass seem almost effortless, in fact one hardly notices one is on a pass at all, and the Swart River slips beneath the road without making itself heard, unless it is in full flood.

The Pass begins as you exit the last suburbs of George and heads out, via the Garden Route Dam, toward the Saasveld Agricultural College / Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. From the start the road drops gently, passes the Dam wall and crosses the river via a small bridge. From this point the river heads south and the Pass east up a short, yet steep hill known as the Swartrivierhoogte. At the summit there is a 4-way intersection, a left turn takes you to the University and right to a private farm – continue straight and you will find yourself at the start of the Kaaimasgat Pass.

Thing to do and see

  • Garden Route Dam
  • Garden Route Scenery
  • Swartrivier
  • Saasveld Agricultural College Gardens
  • Kaaimansgat Pass

Admission

Free to Drive

Best during daylight hours

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