Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Rooiberg Pass
The beautiful Rooiberg Pass lies within the Rooiberg Conservancy, a 60 000 hectare mountainous area in the Klein Karoo.
Where? Calitzdorp via Vanwyksdorp to Ladismith, Western Cape
When? Best during daylight hours
How much? Free
The Rooiberg Conservancy in turn forms part of the Gouritz Biodiversity Meander, which aims to conserve this incredible meeting place of three biomes, one of only 35 biodiversity hot spots in the world.
The Rooiberg Pass meanders through beautiful ravines and over rocky slopes that form part of a large catchment area, through which several rivers pass. In the time it takes you to drive from its southern slopes to the northern side, you will have passed from a form of vegetation that provides you with proteas, to one where Karoo scrub is the dominant plant type. And the views of the Rooiberg as you approach it from Van Wyksdorp are incredible. But take a moment to look behind you.
Those after 4X4 excitement enjoy tackling the Rooiberg Pass as part of a greater trek across the country. If you want to see the Overberg from your front cab, then take a route from Cape Town along the south coast over the plains of Agulhas, and then head to the back roads through the Little Karoo and Boland.
In the higher areas of the Rooiberg Pass are incredible indigenous forests that contain stinkwood trees, and if you can take the time to stop and sit awhile, a new endemic butterfly was recently discovered here, known as the Thestor rooibergensis.
It is best to head up the pass with Van Wyksdorp behind one, via Dwars-in-die-Weg. At the summit is a cairn of precariously stacked prayer stones, said to be where travellers stopped to pray every time they made the trip over the mountains, and before they set off on the rather steep descent.