Eastern Cape Tourist AttractionsCamdeboo Pass
Where? Camdeboo National Park, off the R63 from the Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape
The Camdeboo Pass lies entirely within the Camdeboo National Park, just off the R63 from the Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet.
The pass gets little publicity in its own right. It doesn't even make it onto the top billing list of the park, in amongst premier attractions like the Valley of Desolation, Nqweba Dam (formerly Van Ryneveldt's Pass Irrigation Dam) and the chances of spotting a bat-eared fox.
And yet, this 7 km pass is one of the major highlights of any visit to the Camdeboo. The name Camdeboo is adopted from the Khoi-Khoi word – Xamdeboo – meaning 'green valley'.
To reach the Camdeboo National Park from Graaff-Reinet, take the R63 to Murraysburg out of town for 5 km until you reach the gate on your left. You will drive alongside the Nqweba Dam to your right en route.
Once in the park, the start to the pass is easy to find. Take a left at the first fork in the road just beyond the gate. The road heads south, almost parallel with the R63, towards Graaff-Reinet.
Because it lies within the park the pass is in really good condition – tarred and not at all difficult to navigate, other than having to use first and second gear a lot more than usual. Some sections of the pass are particularly steep, which is why there is a speed limit of 40 kph all the way up the mountain.
As you begin the pass, at a steady and easy incline, the mountain rises ahead of you and for some way you drive along the bank of a little river. The pass only begins to steadily climb after a sharp right, followed by a narrow left curve in the road.
Despite subsequent steep inclines, you don't need a 4x4 to drive the pass. Many visitors in rental vehicles easily manage the slopes, but it is a good idea to remain in low gear. The views and the scenery are going to engage your attention much of the time, anyway, so keeping it slow is advisable.
There are two viewpoints. The first includes a picnic area, at about 5 km up the pass. The road to reach the view site is gravel, with great views out over the Nqweba Dam and Graaff-Reinet.
The kilometre that follows the first viewpoint is really steep and the drops over the edge a little hairy. But you soon reach a small car park area, just after a particularly tight hairpin bend. From the parking there is a little walk to another viewpoint with incredible views.
Shortly after this, you reach the top and the whole reason for the drive. Once out of your car, head along a footpath to the edge of the mountainside for views of the breathtaking Valley of Desolation.
To get back down, simply turn around and drive back the way you came.