Col de Tradouw in Hessequa Rural, Western Cape
Bain's masterpiece for all seasons
The Tradouw Pass is situated on the R324 between the towns of Barrydale and Swellendam or alternatively Heildelberg. The Tradouw Pass was named by the Khoisan people who originally discovered the route and the name means “Womens Path” in the old Khoi language.
The Pass provides some of the most beautiful and rugged mountain scenery on offer in the Langeberg and is without a doubt one of the top twenty Passes in the Western Cape. Originally designed by Thomas Bain, completed in 1873, it follows the winding course of the Tradouw River down in the gorge below. It is renowned for its wild flowers in spring, clusters of blazing red aloes in late autumn, breathtaking waterfalls in winter and magnificent swimming pools in summer.
The approach from the north is from the R62 T-Junction. Turn south onto the R324 and after approximately 1 km, after the road has crossed over a small river and you reach the gravel road to your left, you will find yourself at the northern start of the Pass. From here the Pass begins in seriously mountainous terrain and you may find yourself wondering just how there could even be a path through the rugged mountains.
Your drive will follow many bends, curves and corners and there are many view-sites and picnic spots available on both sides of the road. Look out for places with names like Piekniekbos and Suurplaat where you can stop and try and spot the ruins of Anglo-Boer War blockhouses.
Only a short distance after the summit, you will find the Drupkelder, the main view-site. There is a good reason that the engineers created this view-site, as it's located at the tip of a spur which juts out over the river gorge and provides exceptionally good views in every direction. The Pass changes character from this point, with the steep and dramatic rock faces giving way to green hills, but continues to offers more view points at which to stop.
The Tradouw Pass ticks all the boxes and it is well worth stopping wherever the opportunity allows.
Things to do and see
- Langeberg Mountains
- Tradouw River
- Old Tollgate
- Picnic Spots
- Small Waterfalls
- Drupkelder Viewpoint / Cave
- Andries Uys Bridge & Original Timber Bridge
Free to Drive
Best during daylight hours
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