Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Franschhoek Pass
Completely closed off from the rest of the world on its eastern flank by the Franschhoek Mountains, the town of Franschhoek is accessible via only two routes: Route 45 from either Stellenbosch or Paarl, or south-east of Franschhoek via the Franschhoek Pass from Villiersdorp.
Where? R45, Franschhoek, Cape Winelands, Western Cape
When? Best during daylight hours
How much? Free
The latter is definitely the more scenic route all the way across the mountains and the Theewaterskloof Dam.
The Franschhoek Pass, also known as Lambrechts Road, follows the path of least resistance along the Middagskransberg, tracing the northern edge of the Franschhoek Mountains between the Wemmershoek Mountains and the Franschhoek Valley.
It is one of the more heart-stopping of the passes for views and vistas of the surrounding valleys, gorges and mountains, particularly the drop down to the Franschhoek River from the summit. Capetonians have been known to take Sunday drives simply to include this route in their day, the views are so spectacular. Numerous stopping points along the route allow for breaks and photos.
In terms of scenery, sheer drops and panoramic views the Franschhoek Pass is difficult to beat, and tourists rate it as one of the must-dos of the valley.
Hard to believe there are those who think elephants once used this route to move from one valley into the next as the seasons changed. A hundred and fifty years ago the pass was known as Olifantshoek, or Elephants' Corner, although whether or not there were elephants is a subject open to dispute.
It was only in 1822 that the pass was formally constructed, by a group of soldiers under command of Major Holloway, under orders from Lord Charles Somerset. Jan Joubertsgat bridge was part of the construction and is still in evidence today, one of South Africa's oldest bridges.
Include the pass in a circular route leaving Franschhoek via the R45 to Villiersdorp, turning away from the bridge of the Theewaterskloof Dam. The route joins the R43 to Worcester, and then the N1 in the direction of Paarl, heading back to Franschhoek via the R301 or R45.