Garden Route Tourist AttractionsKaratara Pass
Where? Karatara is the fifth of the seven passes on what is known as the 7 Passes Road in the Garden Route.
Karatara is the fifth of the seven passes on what is known as the 7 Passes Road. Back when it was constructed in the 1880s this route involving seven passes was the only route between George and Knysna. It was to remain so for almost 70 years before the N2 through Wilderness replaced it with a faster option.
Today the route of seven passes is one of numerous back roads that make driving this part of the country so delightful.
Karatara Pass is close to the Knysna end of the route, after the Phantom and Homtini passes (if driving from Knysna). The pass starts close to the little village of Karatara. Both it and the pass are named after the Karatara River up in the mountains, almost directly north of Sedgefield's Groenvlei Lake.
At Karatara is Tsiba College, Africa's first rural enterprise campus, where every student (from marginalised communities) receives two full scholarships – one for board and lodging and another for education, which focuses on both personal development and environmental sustainability.
At least three alternative routes lead from the 7 Passes Road down to Sedgefield.
This portion of the route was designed and implemented by Thomas Bain. The George end of the route was built by his brother-in-law Adam de Smidt. The experience was to evidently cause a rift between the two.
Karatara Pass is a short pass of under 3 km, but it drops 90 metres in altitude to the Karatara River valley, crossing the river at a concrete bridge similar to that on the Hoogekraal pass allowing two lanes of traffic.
Once over the bridge, the climb out of the valley is of the steepest of all the passes on the route and includes a notable sharp hairpin bend. The short pass comes to an end at the village of Barrington, where the road is tarred for a couple of kilometres.
Before driving the pass be aware that because it is gravel it can be pot-holed, corrugated and water-logged, depending on the weather.