Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Tradouw Pass
Thomas Bain's Tradouw Pass is a masterpiece. A drive through this wonderfully rugged terrain will soon acquaint you with why he was known as 'the man with the theodolite eye' (an instrument used to measure horizontal and vertical angles), for the pass' sheer magnificence is inspiring.
Where? Between Barrydale and Swellendam, Western Cape
When? Best during daylight hours
How much? Free
The Tradouw Pass was completed in 1873, built with the help of a large gang of prisoners. It perches 315 metres up, undulating through the folds of the mountains in a way that reflects Bain's respect for nature, for he applied the logic of river courses and followed the path of least resistance allowing the pass to follow the same course as the Tradouw River in the gorge below.
The Tradouw Pass connects Barrydale, in the heart of the Klein Karoo, with the other side of the mountains and the villages of Suurbraak and Swellendam. The route, from the Barrydale side, begins in seriously mountainous terrain with jagged sandstone precipices looming just inches from your car window. The old Tollgate, roughly two kilometres from the Barrydale side of the pass, remains standing.
The road climbs through a narrow gorge into the heart of the Langeberg where there are a number of look out points for stopping to gawp at the magnificent views. Thereafter the pass descends over the Andre Uys Bridge.
If you have the time, drive through the little village of Suurbraak at the end of the pass, where giant oaks, the Tradouw River and the backdrop of the Langeberg Mountains make for a particularly beautiful setting. Some of the little plots grow their own vegetables, tilling the earth the old fashioned way with horse drawn plough. The local organic restaurant buys their goods, or they go to market in Swellendam.
For more info about the Tradouw Pass see our article "Traversing The Tradouw".