Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Swaarmoed Pass
The Swaarmoed Pass lies in the Matroosberg just outside of the town of Ceres. Like the town, it is well known for snow in winter – if not on the pass itself, then views from the pass generally will include snow, icy weather depending – and fruit (the Ceres valley that is, not the Swaarmoed Pass, and not at the same time of year, obviously).
Where? Matroosberg outside Ceres, Western Cape
When? Best during daylight hours
How much? Free
Capetonians head out along the tar and gravel pass (the last few kilometres, or first depending on which side you come at it from, are gravel) in the hope of seeing snow, generally as a result of demanding pleas from children for whom the very idea of snow holds the fascination only experienced during childhood. It can get rather muddy and slippery on the pass though, which is why the 4X4 crowd rate the pass as one of their favourites.
Usually, if you head up the Swaarmoed ('heavy heart') Pass for about 20 kilometres towards the 'BoSwaarmoed' plateau, your perseverance will be rewarded. The reason for the snow is that this region is particularly cold, hence its being such a wonderful deciduous fruit growing centre for the Western Cape.
The Swaarmoed Pass is one of several passes that give access to the Koue Bokkeveld, an area that lies amidst a range of mountains of the same name, south and east of the town of Citrusdal, and north of Ceres. Interestingly, Ceres lies in the Warm Bokkeveld or 'warm antelope field' with warmer summers, but wet and cold winters with frequent snow episodes along its surrounding mountains and plateaus.
By contrast, the Koue bokkeveld is an area where the plains are harsh, the mountains high, but the area breathtakingly beautiful, and in winter, as cold as it can get.