Eastern Cape Tourist AttractionsDontsa Pass
Where? The Dontsa Pass is a gravel road pass forming part of the R352 route on a western loop from the R63 in the south to the R30 in the north near Stutterheim.
The Dontsa Pass is one of the most scenic passes in the area. It negotiates forested hillsides overshadowed by impressive mountain peaks and dotted with several dams, cutting through the little village of Keiskammahoek that takes the traveller on to Hogsback.
The pass is on the R352 near the Sandile Dam on the westerly loop the road takes near Keiskammahoek, en route to Stutterheim.
This section of the R352, built in 1857, is gravel and lasts for just under 6 km. It is close to the Hogsback Mountains and used daily for the transport of logs by heavy duty timber trucks - the area is a big on forestry - so be cautious as the road is narrow and the trucks, because they use the pass frequently, tend to disregard any speed limits.
The road is also treacherous in winter as snow falls at this altitude, making the road slippery and dangerous. You may want to reconsider driving Dontsa Pass with snow on the road, and even in the rainy season the road becomes slippery and visibility is jeopardised.
That said, it is so beautiful to drive that you may throw caution to the wind.
The Dontsa Pass is not the only pass in the area. There are at least nine gravel passes enjoyed by the 4x4 community, and three tarred passes.
Also on the R352 is Red Hill Pass, between Keiskammahoek and King William's Town. It is south of Dontsa Pass on the tarred section of the road, in the midst of the Amatola Mountain forests.
If you drive the R63 from either Fort Hare or King William's Town, and head north to Stutterheim on R352, you will summit both passes, the Red Hill Pass before Keiskammahoek, and then, as the road turns east and becomes gravel and passes Ndlovini, it will start to summit the Dontsa Pass.