About Barkerís Nek Pass

Barkerís Nek is a beautiful high altitude gravel pass on the R396 just northeast of the little Eastern Cape town of Indwe.

Today Indwe is subdued, merely driven through by visitors to the region. But back in 1876 it was almost selected by the bishop of Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth as the place to build a Trappist monastery, in similar vein to Mariannhill just outside Durban.

Did you know? Today only a little stone church, that is all but abandoned, draws any attention in Indwe.

To reach Barkerís Pass from Indwe leave town briefly on the tarred R56 before taking a left onto the R396, and roughly 9 km later, as you cross a little stream with the aid of a shallow concrete bridge, one begins to climb the pass.

Barkerís Nek is one of numerous passes in the area. From here one can access Otto du Plessis, Greylings, Heuningneskloof, Kraai River, Bottelnek, Baster Voetslaan and Barkly passes - most of them wonderful gravel roads, a couple of them tarred.

The pass is a constant series of twists and turns, as is the way of mountain passes, but none of them is an excessive hairpin bend and the road is manageable, except during winters when it can snow on the pass and become more than a little dangerous. A 4x4 is then requisite as this is a remote part of the world and recovery will take time to reach you.

The pass is not busy and it is doubtful that you will even meet traffic in either direction, which gives one the opportunity to drink in the scenery, of which there is much that is beautiful - particularly the expansive views out over the valley floor below. One does need to watch oneís speed, however. This is a sedate drive, as most mountain passes are, particularly given the high number of steep drops without the benefit of guard rails.

As one ascends the nek so the mountain views open out. Up here is sheep farming country, with pastures on either side of the nek.

Need to Know

WhereOn the R396 just northeast of Indwe in the Karoo Heartland, Eastern Cape, South Africa

WhenBest during daylight hours.

OvernightStay in Indwe Accommodation, Eastern Cape

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