Swartrivier Pass

Mountain Passes in or near George, Garden Route in the Garden Route, South Africa.

Garden Route Tourist AttractionsSwartrivier Pass

Where? Between George and Knysna on the 7 Passes Route, Garden Route

Overnight? Stay in George, in Garden Route

The popular Seven Passes route between George and Knysna includes the Swartrivier Pass, also known as the Black River, or Zwartrivierhoogte, Pass.

The Swartrivier Pass forms the initial part of the historical Seven Passes drive, athough it is not officially one of the seven passes because it has changed so much from the historical Swartrivier Pass. Today one hardly notices one is on a pass at all, and the Swart River slips beneath the road without making itself heard, unless it is in full flood.

The Swartrivier Pass runs from George's main road east past the wall of the Garden Route Dam, which collects water from both the Swart and Kat rivers. The dam lies on the edge of the suburbs of Eden George and Lourie Park, arguably one of the more scenic dams in the country. It is also the only water source for the large town and surrounding farms, hence the frequent water restrictions.

Because of the dam's easy accessibility it is extremely popular with thousands of annual visitors. As a result little recreation is allowed around the dam to protect the environment and water quality. Whilst hiking and walking are encouraged (Tierkop hike is a two-day route through pine plantations, forest, fynbos and waterfalls; starting at Witfontein and ending at the dam), motor boats, fires, swimming or camping are not.

It is interesting to note that back in the days of wagon wheels and ox-drawn carts the Swartrivier Pass's now smooth and easy drive was considered a dangerous route, particularly the river crossing. Today the river flows beneath the road to merge just after it becomes a waterfall, close to the N2, with the Kaaimans River.

The pass is not long, and soon after the river slips beneath the road, it curves in an S shape, reaching the neck of the pass at Saasveld where NMMU has its satellite campus. This part of the university focuses on environment, business and management, offering degrees in forestry, nature conservation and agricultural management, amongst others.

If you continue along byond the Swartrivier Pass, the Kaaimansriver Pass begins shortly afterwards.

Garden Route Passes


Attakwaskloof Pass Bloukrans Pass Cradock Pass Homtini Pass Hoogekraal Pass
Kaaimans River Pass Robinson Pass Swartrivier Pass

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