Reaching Houw Hoek Pass means first driving the scenic Sir Lowry’s Pass and together they create what has to be one of the most beautiful drives in the Western Cape.
Most of this part of South Africa is postcard pretty with plenty of fruit orchards and wine farms and so it is no wonder visitors enjoy a day out in the countryside. The western starting point of the Pass is at the Houw Hoek Inn and ascends at a gentle gradient to the summit, 352 metres, before descending a far steeper gradient on a four lane modern highway. The Pass ends at the crossing of the Bot River.
The new pass has been built to modern engineering standards and with all the safety requirements expected of todays’ road builders. Approximately 2 km before the summit, the road splits into two dual carriageway roads, the Easterly traffic remaining on the higher carriageway while the Westerly traffic travels on a completely separate line as this greatly reduces the probability of head-on collisions.
The views open up near the summit, just after the road runs through a deep cutting with almost vertical sides. Just beyond the summit, the views to the right on your descent are magnificent, but keep an eye on the road as there is a large hairpin waiting for you. Warning signs are very visible and you would do well to keep to the recommended 80 km/hr speed limit. The road will level off after about 1.5 km hereafter, near the fly-over bridge.
The original Houw Hoek Pass was built shortly after the Sir Lowry’s Pass and the middle section of about 25 km between the two Passes became known as Coles Pass, named after the same Sir Lowry Cole. The name Houw Hoek means “Hold Corner” and was used because of the need to hold back or slow down the ox-wagons while negotiating the steep descent down the Pass. The Old Pass has a lot of history attached to it and can still be driven today. Many of the attractions along the N2 however, also show the history of the area.
There is no charge to travel along the pass and it is recommended to travel during daylight hours.
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