Eastern Cape Tourist AttractionsBruintjieshoogte Pass
Where? About 10km from Somerset East, Karoo Heartland, Eastern Cape
Whilst not an overly eventful pass, and not dangerous to drive, it is the first noticeable rise in altitude between here and Graaff-Reinet, most of the area suffering the flatness for which the Karoo is renowned.
But this same flatness is the very reason for the star-studded nights, numbingly hot summers and crisp winters. These vast plains that stretch on forever, interspersed by craggy mountains, are what makes it so very attractive. Welcome to the Karoo.
Between the two towns of Pearston and Somerset East is farm country - kilometres of game fences and the odd road sign warning of possible lone kudus attempting to cross the road (they're able to easily scale fences, so the possibility is not as far fetched as it might seem).
The towns on either end of the pass – both Pearston and Somerset East – are worth a stop in their own right. Pearston for its rapidly fading Victorian Karoo houses, the Gothic church with its significant steeple and Cranemere's Private Museum, and Somerset East for its charm, tourist-geared activities and two museums, one of them dedicated to Walter Battiss (you can now buy his lesser-known works on a range of homeware items at @Home). Whilst you are there, walk the Somerset East Heritage Trail.
There is a viewing site on Bruitjieshoogte Pass, perfect for those driving in a westward direction. If you happen to use the pass in an easterly direction then a stop is virtually out of the question as it is an awkward place to cross the road and could easily cause an accident.
Wait until you crest the pass where there are wonderful views out over the Karoo.
Bruintjieshoogte Pass is the site both of the Bruitjieshoogte Marathon (a 50 km, 25 km, 15 km run and 5 km fun run/walk) and the Bruintjieshoogte Cycle Fest, which is usually spread over a weekend with a selection of road races, mountain bike races and a fun run on Bosberg.