Viljoen's Pass

Viljoen's Pass cuts through the Groenland Mountains to follow a gorge through which the Palmiet River flows, linking Villiersdorp with Grabouw

Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Viljoen's Pass

Viljoen's Pass cuts through the Groenland Mountains to follow a gorge through which the Palmiet River flows, linking Villiersdorp with Grabouw.

Where? Links Villiersdorp with Grabouw, Western Cape

When? Best during daylight hours

How much? Free

Overnight? See Grabouw accommodation, in Western Cape

Named after local apple pioneer, Sir Antonie Viljoen, the pass is a wonderful drive overlooking the valley that is regarded as 'apple country'. The pass is often incorporated as part of a 'four passes' tour of the Cape Winelands, including Sir Lowry's Pass, Viljoen's, Helshoogte and Franschhoek Pass.

Grabouw is the epicentre of the apple-producing part of the region that also produces plums, pears and nectarines and lies on the banks of the same river that meanders through the Viljoen's Pass. The pass looks down into the pretty valley that lies between the Hottentots Holland mountain range and the Groenland Mountains. It is a tar pass that takes one through some pretty spectacular scenery and is worth driving particularly as it is not very busy.

At the top of the pass lies the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. Not really aimed at day visitors as there are no obvious picnic facilities, for hikers and the conservation of mountain fynbos the reserve is a gem. The reserve lies high on the pass where the terrain is at its most rugged.

Up here is known as the Dwarsberg plateau and rainfall is more likely due to the altitude. Weather is also unpredictable as a result and hikers doing the Boland Hiking Trail, stopping at overnight huts within the reserve, usually come well prepared.

Viljoen's Pass is on the R321 from the village of Grabouw past the Nuwebergdam and the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. The route continues past Theewaterskloofdam and Nature Reserve, and on to Villiersdorp, a town that also produces deciduous fruit, unlike the rest of the Villiersdorp Valley that grows wheat and canola.

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Hottentots Holland Reserve

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Houwhoek Pass

To reach Houwhoek Pass, on the tarred N2, you will have to crest Sir Lowry's Pass first. In fact, there is a 25 kilometre stretch of road between the two passes, known as Cole's Pass, to add further confusion to the mix. All in all, this...

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