Gydo Pass

Landmarks / Mountain Passes in or near Ceres, Breede River Valley in the Western Cape, South Africa.

Western Cape Tourist AttractionsGydo Pass

Where? R303 between Ceres and Citrusdal, Cederberg, Western Cape

Overnight? Accommodation in Ceres, in Western Cape

The Gydo Pass is one of two passes that transport one from the town of Ceres through the Warmberg, and up on to the Koue Bokkeveld (Cold Bokkeveld), a name that originated because of springbok found up here in prolific numbers, once upon a time.

The other pass is Michell's Pass. Both are works of Andrew Geddes Bain, whose team of convict labourers hand built the passes in the mid 1800s. One pass leads into the other en route into the mountains.

Gydo (pronounced with a gutteral 'g' as one would use in the Afrikaans language) is said to mean 'steep passage' and is believed to derive from the ancient San language. Others say the word refers to a species of euphorbia which still grows on the mountain sides.

It isn't only euphorbia that flourishes up here. Waboom or Protea nitida, one of few proteas that grow into trees, still grows in clumps along the road. The wood was used by wagon-builders, but what is interesting is that its leaves were once used to make ink, and the bark is said to produce a dye wonderful for staining furniture.

The road up Gydo Pass that eventually reaches Citrusdal (and is a wonderful alternative route if you have time on your hands and want beautiful scenery) passes through some of the richest soils in the country. The cold snaps, even during the intense but short summers, yield incredible fruit - this is apple, peach and pear country.

The Gydo pass is tarred and not difficult to drive, with great sweeping turns (32 curves and bends in total, if you're counting) and the odd portion of the road devoid of safety barriers, so you might want to keep your eyes on the road.

At the foot of the pass is Prince Alfred's Hamlet (one of the last places at which to stock up on fuel, if you happen to be low, before entering the Cederberg).

As far as scenery goes, Gydo Pass is difficult to beat. And the drive through the Koue Bokkeveld, in particular, is spectacular especially if you manage it as the seasons begin to turn and the light is less intense.

Take note that during winter the pass, because of its high altitude, can close when it snows. And if it remains open to allow people up to see the snow, traffic can queue for miles from the foot of Michell's Pass.

Why not overnight? Find Accommodation in Ceres

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