Eastern Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Otto Du Plessis Pass
Where? Between Ida and Clifford, Eastern Cape
When? Best during daylight hours
How much? Free
Owing to the mountainous terrain, a system of eight ‘reverses’ was incorporated into the line, which has a gradient of 1 in 36, one of only two such systems in the world. The Class 19D steam locomotive that stands in Barkly East’s square is a reminder of the early days of rail transport.
From the Clifford turn-off the road ascents steadily through farmland until reaching the summit of the Otto Du Plessis pass. This point has panoramic views from the top of the Drakensberg escarpment over the Tsomo valley.
It is reputed that on a clear day it is possible to see the Indian Ocean. This may be a dubious claim, but there is no doubt at all that the vistas are far reaching and spectacular.
As the Otto du Plessis pass descends to Ida it winds through sandstone gorges, forests, farmlands and across rivers in a breathtaking mountain wilderness. This variety of habitat means that Otto Du Plessis is one of the best birding passes in the area, so keep your eyes open for mountain ‘specials’ that include Drakensberg Rock-jumpers, Ground Woodpeckers and a variety of siskins.