Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Van der Stel Pass
The Van der Stel Pass lies between Bot River and Villiersdorp, a beautiful pass that takes one via the Theewaterskloof Dam. This part of the Overberg is filled with flowers, birds and wines, with scenery to match.
Where? Between Botrivier and Villiersdorp, Western Cape
When? Best during daylight hours
How much? Free
The Bot River, after which the little town is named, follows the swing of the pass emptying finally into a mushy marsh close to the river's mouth called Bot River Lagoon. This wetland is home to an incredible number of waterfowl and a herd of wild horses that roam the area – it's a rather romantic setting that deserves a stop and time to explore.
The mainly gravel pass (although not difficult to drive in an ordinary sedan) is surprisingly not named after Simon van der Stel but Willem Adriaan van der Stel, Governer of the Cape Colony, which at the time served as little more than a way station for the Dutch East India Company, between 1699 and 1707. He ostensibly had a hunting lodge in the area.
Today the Van der Stel Pass is home to a series of working farms that produce apples, olive oil, lavender, wine, flowers, milk and horses. A number of these are geared for visitors and some have accommodation.
Wine estates in the area include Wildekrans, Beaumont Wines, Luddite, Gabrielskloof, Galantskloof and Goedvertrouw and if you want to make it all about wine, you could add the vineyards of Grabouw and Hermanus to your itinerary and spend at least a week travelling in the area.
There is also an annual Botriver Van der Stel Pass Challenge that is both a mountain biking and walking/running event that happens around October. It starts at the historic Bot River Station and winds along the Van der Stel Pass through lands and farms not usually open to the public.