Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Hex River Pass
Where? Between De Doorns and Worcester, Western Cape
When? Best during daylight hours
How much? Free
The Hex River pass is a favourite amongst travellers during winter when the surrounding peaks are capped with snow, usually a sure indicator to those living in the nearby towns and farms that the cold weather has hit, as it does, always managing to take locals by surprise (summer in the valley is hot enough to imagine that winter will never come).
The entire Hex River Valley is a sight for sore eyes. Filled with vineyards and fruit farms it is a beautiful route to travel at any time of year, but when the leaves of the grape vines begin to deepen and shades of brown, red and orange dominate the scenery, it is particularly beautiful. And there is a local story about Eliza Meiring that tinges the valley with further colour.
Very beautiful and wanted by every man in the district back in the late 1700s, she announced that she would only consider marriage to a man who could bring her a disa flower. The kind that grew at fairly nerve-wracking heights in the mountains. One of her suitors died in pursuit thereof and Eliza suffered a subsequent nervous breakdown. Before committing suicide she carved the date and her initials into a wooden window sill, still there today in one of the old homesteads on the original farms.
It is from this story that the 'hex' part of the valley and pass come. Hex is 'witch' in Afrikaans and her ghost, in the form of swirling mists over the summits, is when the witch is on the mountain.
The Hex River pass itself was built in 1875 and a railway passes over it as well. From De Doorns the railway climbs to 960 metres above sea level in the space of a mere 25 kilometres.
The Blue Train passes over here on a consistent basis, should you wish to experience it. Otherwise take the Hexpass Express – two coaches drawn by a vintage Fordson 35 horse power tractor, so pack a picnic, as you may be there a while.