Holgat Pass

Mountain Passes in or near Baviaanskloof, Karoo Heartland in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Eastern Cape Tourist AttractionsHolgat Pass

Where? Holgat Pass, R332, Baviaanskloof, Eastern Cape

Overnight? Stay in Baviaanskloof, in Eastern Cape

Few people realise that the Baviaanskloof is the third-largest nature reserve, after Kruger and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, in South Africa. Ecologically it is one of the most diverse places on the planet, and one of the last true remaining wilderness areas in the country.

Only one road takes you through the kloof, which is probably why so much of its landscape is untouched, pristine and remote. To the north of Baviaanskloof are the Baviaans Mountains, to the south are the Kouga Mountains. The road through the kloof traverses four mountain passes in all - Nuwekloof, Grasnek, Holgat and Combrinks (if driving west to east).

Youíll feel more comfortable on the roads in a 4x4 vehicle, particularly on the narrow, rocky slopes of the passes, but you could probably get through the kloof, in the dry season, in a 4x2.

Whilst Nuwekloof is the only pass in the west of the kloof, Grasnek, Holgat and Combrinks follow in quick succession in the east. Holgat and Combrinks, in particular, are easily confused - one is the ascent (Holgat), and the other the descent (Combrinks), onto and from the high plateau where you find Bergplaas campsite.

To reach Holgat Pass one heads first over Grasnek Pass. Between them is the R332 alongside the Baviaans and Kouga Rivers, and the two campsites - Smitskraal and Rooiberg. Itís a good idea to camp at either of these before tackling Holgat, as it is considered the most dangerous of the three passes.

Holgat is narrow and the climb a constant series of twists. Passing oncoming traffic takes some engineering, particularly as much of the road is deteriorated concrete strips, which makes the going really slow.

Whilst passengers will be privy to some of the most beautiful scenery in the Baviaanskloof, the driver darenít take his eyes off the road, and the final summit with its views and Bergplaas campsite, is a welcome relief.

The Baviaanskloof is a World Heritage Site, one of eight protected areas of the Cape Floristic Region. This higher protection rating than a nature reserve is due to its botanical importance. The fynbos is incredible, and on the pass youíll see watsonias, ericas, proteas and other typical plants.

Look out too for spekboom, particularly near Rooihoek campsite, where some has been fenced off in a bid to restore the landscape.

Why not overnight? Find Accommodation in Baviaanskloof

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