Prince Alfred Pass
The Prince Alfred Pass is another built by the indefatigable Thomas Bain, between 1860 and 1867. It was to be one of his biggest challenges, as the road cut through dense forest and climbs 700 metres in just 14 kilometres. The pass links Knysna with the little town of Avontuur on the R62.
It is also fairly difficult to drive. For one, it is gravel and full of hairpin bends, for rather hair raising moments, it narrows to a single lane in places, and it is off the beaten track. It is also, for rather obvious reasons, not a road you travel just after heavy rains. And you might want to think rather seriously about attempting it with a trailer or caravan. That said, it is incredibly beautiful.
The Prince Alfred Pass, on the R339, is considered a wonderful alternative drive between the coast and the Klein Karoo. It takes one over some of the most beautiful and unspoilt mountain scenery South Africa has to offer.
The history of the pass is rather interesting too. Knysna in the middle of the 19th century had a thriving timber industry that was desperate for an alternative to the track that existed from Plettenberg Bay over Paardekop to De Vlugt, and then on over the Zondagh's Mountain to Avontuur (and Graaff-Reinet).
Bain dismissed the route because of its ruggedness, choosing instead to follow a bridle path directly from Knysna to Avontuur, used in the past by forest elephants and early inhabitants. He spent some years of his life, together with his team of convicts, building the pass whilst living in a home he had built at De Vlugt, which is now a little hamlet.
There are wonderful picnic spots all along the route, mountain pools and forest. Spitskop in particular gives one incredible views over the Garden Route. Stop at De Vlugt Tea Garden en route.
destinations / attractions in the western cape