North West Province Tourist AttractionsKommandonek Pass
Where? On the R560/R512 up above Kosmos Ridge on the edge of the Hartbeespoort Dam, North West Province
Kommandonek Pass is not a major pass, but it does have historical merit. It lies on the R560/R512 up above Kosmos Ridge on the edge of the Hartbeespoort Dam, in Magaliesberg, and connects Hartbeespoort with Hekpoort.
A drive over Kommandonek not only provides wonderful views out over the dam but access to what is left of one of four strategic blockhouses which defended Kommandonek that date back to the turn of the century. What used to be a highly strategic position back then is, today, little more than a viewpoint, the road up there lined with fruit stalls and vegetable sellers looking to make a bit of money from the many who use the dam as their weekend getaway.
Known as 'Britain's last castles' these masonry blockhouses were part of the South African War (1899-1902). The earliest of these blockhouses was built during what was known as the guerilla phase of the war; the early months. Most of them were built between December 1900 and December 1901.
The Magaliesberg blockhouse had its own distinctive style – with an obvious medieval military architecture, featuring crenellated parapets above a flat roof. There was a group of three of them on the mountain east of Kommandonek and another to the west. All of them are single-storeyed, unlike other blockhouses which have as many as three storeys.
The other distinctive feature that the Magaliesberg blockhouses tend to follow is that mule tracks lead up to them from nearby roads. Today these survive rather well, and are often used as hiking trails. One of the best examples of this is the path to the west of Pampoennek that is a half a kilometre long.
Kommandonek pass is largely flat, initially, climbing steadily as the road reaches the summit. Halfway up is Simon Bekker Avenue, worth taking to explore the pretty suburbs of Kosmos and Kosmos Ridge. The views from this road too, out across the homes and the dam are very attractive.
The views at the summit of Kommandonek Pass are excellent, and the descent starts almost as soon as one leaves the top.
Interestingly Kommandonek is the site of a pilot project building low-cost, eco-friendly homes, known as the Village of Hope. They are built using patented polystyrene and cement panels, which are fire-and-water resistant, lightweight and durable.