Swartberg Pass, again

swartberg pano blog
Playing with pano, full sun, not ideal. I took this standing on top of what’s left of the building from which the master road-builder Thomas Bain worked. It’s a pity it’s a ruin because it has historical significance given that Bain was this country’s most visionary road builder.

I found this in the draft folder. It was written about 6 years ago and I don’t know why I didn’t finish and publish it at the time. With some editing, here it is – low on wording, high on photos, and I’ll leave it like that. I remember well this strange client, and how difficult he was, but seeing as it took us to some of my favourite parts of the region, the time was not wasted.

So last month I had an unusual tour to the Klein Karoo.  One person, 6 days, and he didn’t hesitate to speak his mind about certain aspects of the trip – which details we won’t go into here, it’s fading from my mind. Luckily, he was thrilled with the open spaces of the Karoo and went nuts on Swartberg Pass. I decided to do a full day of it – up to the top of the pass in a 4×4, lots of stops for photos and plant stories, down into Prince Albert for lunch and a tour of the town, and then back to Oudtshoorn via Meiringspoort ad De Rust. It was a perfect day, warm and sunny, happy client, and my favourite aspect of any road-trip – mountain passes.

gentle start 2 swartberg
Gentle start up the mountain. The road was in surprisingly good condition as it had recently been graded. As I type, we have heard that it’s being damaged by rains again and can only be accessed in a 4×4.
start climbing swartbrg
Not at the top yet but already you can see how high the pass is. 1600m at the top.
retaining wall
Built in the late 1800s, this wall has not changed much since then. Its unique method makes it as strong as ever.
You’ll know you’re at the top when you see this.
swartberg scenes
roelnds office on swartberg
lucas thatchers
Lucas Thatchers are the most well-known thatching company in the Western Cape. The owner originates from Prince Albert and this is apparently the first building he ever thatched. It’s tiny, like a child’s toy, and neat as a in.
water of prince albert
One of the old water canals of Prince Albert – the town still uses this water reticulation system from the early days of settlement in this part of the Karoo. The whole of the Karoo is very dry but Prince Alvbert is especially dry so a nearby river serves well and not a drop of water is wasted.
domisee house
Classic Karoo Victorian house.
water mill
At the old water mill near the entrance to the town.

About Francoise Armour

I run a small touring company (Tours du Cap) at the bottom of Africa, to show visitors the beauty and vibrant culture of the country I have lived in since my parents brought me here from France as a child. I enjoy taking photos and wish I had learnt to do it properly. I enjoy writing but don't do enough of it. I enjoy walking in the mountains that surround me and I marvel over the views and the flowers and the amazing rock formations. I have a small, cute, clever, black dog of indeterminable breed, named Vida, who reminds me regularly that walking and getting out is not only for when tourists want it.

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A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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