About Grasnek Pass

The ‘home of the baboons’ (Baviaanskloof) is a deep ravine through which sweep a number of mountain passes that are nothing short of spectacular. It is not unusual, in the early morning stillness, to hear the bark of the baboon in the surrounding hills of the kloof from campsites in the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area.

Did you know? Tip: a must-have for any drive through the Baviaanskloof is Slingsby’s Baviaanskloof map - which highlights swimming holes, picnic sites, campsites, forested areas, distances in kilometres between road junctions, and 4x4 routes.

It depends on whether you drive the kloof from the east or the west as to which of the four passes you experience when. There is but one main road through here.

If you enter from the west, your entrance is over the Nuwekloof pass. You’ll cross rivers no fewer than 42 times, but probably only notice the numerous dry river beds after it rains, when they’re a little trickier to navigate. They’re one of the challenges of the route during the rainy season (spring and autumn).

Once in the Zandvlakte the road heads east past Smitskraal, a public campsite. This side of the kloof is navigated via three sweeping mountain passes - Grasnek, followed swiftly by Holgat and Combrinks.

Grasnek Pass is about 8 km long and the views from the ridge and the top are incredible. They far outweigh the intermittent discomfort of the steep gradients. You’ll be more comfortable in a 4x4 for this pass, but there are those who drive the Baviaanskloof in a 4x2 (just not during the rainy season).

The Grasnek Pass gets off to an unremarkable start, with a little partially obscured sign that simply reads: Old Mountain Pass. The road, which can get a little rough in parts, begins immediately to climb. As you reach the summit the views open out, and it is lucky that the road becomes a little easier to navigate just in time to drink in views of the valley below.

It is only as the pass begins to descend that a couple of view stops materialise. After these the pass drops in a series of convolutions, twists and turns for about 4 km until the next Baviaans River crossing, in what can only be described as one of the busier parts of the kloof (best out of school holidays). Parts of the pass are narrow enough to make passing other vehicles difficult.

Need to Know

WhereGrasnek Pass, 40 km from Patensie, Baviaanskloof, Eastern Cape, South Africa

WhenBest during daylight hours.

OvernightStay in Baviaanskloof Accommodation, Eastern Cape

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