Category Archives: Western Province Travel


Yesterday ,which was a public holiday in South Africa, I joined a group of enthusiastic people and councillors on a clean up operation in the part of Kayalitsha known as C3,the original township serving Cape Town

Start of operation Clean up

Start of Operation Clean Up

There must have been at least a hundred people involved, although it did seem that the majority were women. At 9am we set off up the main street and people armed with black refuse bags and protected with latex gloves started their work.

From the start the reaction from the local residents, including the the numerous taxis plying their trade in the area.

Spaza (shop) sign

After 2 hours many black bags were filled, these were taken away by Cape Town municipality. I was invoved in taking the photographs for the product, but I must admit that it was a marvelous opertunaty to photograph the many “shops” in the area.

I fully believe that it is a perfect area to take tourist to see, a view shared by the local councillor for the area.

Safety is not a concern here we were generally welcomed with open arms, and providing you ask permission, which is only polite, nobody minds you taking photographs

I you really want to find out about the life in Kayalitsha get out and walk, with a guide, and talk to the residents.

Relaxing on a public hoilday Kahalitsha style

Relaxing on a public hoilday Kahalitsha style


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Filed under African continent, Cape Town, News, Tours, Western Province Travel


The Smitswinkel Tented Camp is the latest edition and the fourth tented camp/overnight facility available within

Table Mountain National Park (TMNP). The camp is set in the shadows of a weathered flowering gum plantation,

and is situated just off Plateau Road, about 300m from the entrance gate to the Cape of Good Hope.

All the tented camps were built with the concept of “touching-the-earth-lightly”. This means that previously

disturbed sites were selected for the location of these camps, and the design and materials ensure minimum

environmental impact during the construction of the camps. Labour intensive construction techniques were used to

create jobs and black economic empowered SMME’s were sourced to build these camps. Each of the tented

camps can sleep up to 12 people sharing, and are provided with communal kitchen and bathroom facilities. The

new Smitswinkel Tented Camp is the exception, where each unit has its own kitchenette and en-suite. All units

have self-catering facilities.

Smitswinkel Tented Camp

The opening of the Smitswinkel Tented Camp coincides with a new strategy of Table Mountain National Park,

which is to open the tented camps to a wider target audience and not only to hikers. In the past because the tented

camps were directly linked to the Hoerikwaggo Trail only hikers could book the tented camps. Now, the camps are

available to all nature lovers; including families and friends, hikers, cyclists, trail runners, or surfers to their

favourite surfing spots at Slangkop, Kommetjie or Misty Cliffs. Without having to hike the Hoerikwaggo Trail, family

and friends can spend time at any of the camps, select more localized short walks and enjoy the beautiful natural

surroundings that the Table Mountain National Park provides. The tented camps vary from offering an Afromontane

Forest at Orangekloof Tented Camp, to a Lighthouse and Marine theme with whales in the background at the

Slangkop Tented Camp in Kommetjie. With the new strategy also came a revision of the pricing system which has

seen a decrease in price of the product. Prices per person range from R200,00 to R250,00 per night.

All the tented camps are built on the Hoerikwaggo Trail. This famous trail ― following the entire spine of the

peninsula mountain chain ― is 97km in length; from Cape Town to Cape Point or vice versa. The Khoisan term

“Hoerikwaggo” means “mountains in the sea”.

Department of Economic Development and Tourism


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Filed under Accommodation, Cape Town, Hiking, Table Mountain, Western Province Travel

The Fifth in the series of Famous South African Passes: – Attaquas Kloof and Robinson Pass.

Attaquas Kloof pass west of Robinson Pass between Mossel Bay and Oudtshorn, was the earliest recorded route linking the coastal strip with the little Karoo via the Outeniqua Mountains.

Curves of Robinson Pass

Most of the early ox wagon passes were not constructed as such but early explorers merely followed game/elephant tracks or foot paths made by the Khoi Khoi people over the mountains.


The first ox wagon pass across the Langeberg Outeniqua range was the Attaquaskloof Pass, north of Mossel Bay.   This became the main road to the North for 180 years from 1689-1869.


Only with the arrival of John Montagu, the colonial secretary at the Cape from 1843 – 1852, and the expertise of Andrew Geddes Bain and his son Thomas, did proper road construction begin in the Cape.


The first properly constructed passes over the Cape fold mountains between the coast and little Karoo were the Montagu Pass (1848) between George and Oudtshoorn and the Robinson Pass (1869) between Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn.

The pass cut out of the rock

Nowhere else in Southern Africa is there such a concentration of mountain passes in one area, nor such a wealth of variety in there scenery and vegetation as can be found in the Southern Cape.   These passes are a much a part of the little Karoo story as the ostrich – without them there would have been no access, no settlement of farms and no way for the farmer to communicate with, and bring his products to the outside world.


The Attaquaskloof pass was the “N1” for ox wagons travelling North and East and was used by thousands of ox wagons from 1689 until 1869.   The first ox wagon to use this route was an expedition of 21 men and 2 wagons sent out by Simon van der Stel, under the leadership of ensign Isaac Schrijver in January 1689.   Gouriqua Khoi Khoi pointed out the old elephant route to them.   It took Schrijver 7 days to cross over the Attaquas Mountains from the farm Hagelkraal on the Southern Side to Saffraansrivier on the Northern side.   A list of travellers passing through the Attaquas pass is a who’s who of celebrated early explorers and boasts names such as Thunberg (1772 – 1773), Sparrman (1775-1776), Swellengreber (1776), Van Plettenberg (1778), Patterson (1777-1779), Gordon (1786) and Van Reenen (1790).   In the early 1800’s came Barrow and a host of other travellers.


In 1842, the official toll of wagons passing through the Attaquas was 4280 that year alone.   It became known as “the gateway to the Karoo and Eastern Cape”.   Although other passes into the little Karoo were established before the end of the 18th century, e.g. The Plattekloof pass and the Duiwelskop pass. They did not pose a serious threat to the Attaquas pass.   The establishment of George in the early 19th century and the Cradock (1812) and Montagu (1847) passes brought about the beginning of the end of the Attaquas pass, but finally the Ruiterbosch pass (1869) now known as the Robinson pass, provided a new and shorter route between Oudtshoorn and Mossel Bay, and this finally ended the 180 year reign of what must be one of the most attractive passes over either the Langeberg or the Outeniqua mountains.

Fantastic scenery from the pass

In the late 1800’s Thomas Bain surveyed a railway line from Albertinia through the Gouritz gorge and over the Attaquas pass but this was never constructed due to the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War.   During the Anglo Boer War the Mossel Bay town guard built a series of blockhouses along the Outeniqua Mountains to prevent the Boers from reaching the coastal towns.   One of this well-preserved blockhouses is situated near the top of the Attaquas pass overlooking that part of the old wagon road leading to Oudtshoorn.

Fantastic Outeniqua Mountains

Ruiterbos is the start of the Robinson pass and was constructed between 1867 and 1869 and was named after the then commissioner of roads, M.R. Robinson.  Previously there was a bridal path over the Outeniqua Mountains and it was named the Ruiterbosch Pad.   The pass was realigned and tarred in the 1950’s but signs of the original pass constructed by Thomas Bain are still to be seen next to the tar road on both sides of the pass.   At the top of the pass, on the Western side of the road is a monument to M.R. Robinson and directly opposite, the original road curves down the mountainside away from the present road in the direction of the Mooihoek farm homestead.


For today’s traveller, the Attaquas pass, which has been declared a national monument, offers spectacular scenery, pristine fynbos, natural rock pools, relics of block houses, an old hotel and toll houses, remains of ox wagons alongside the road and outspans with aloe kraals to hold the oxen.


Thomas Bain was asked to improve the pass started by the Divisional Council in 1860 and were still working at it in 1866 when they gave up the ghost.


Bain improved the work and took a new line up the southern slopes of the Outeniques working with 142 convicts.


The new road was officially opened on the 4th June 1869. The pass was named after the Inspector Murrell Robinson Robinson.

It might be a tarmac pass but still dangerous a tragic bus accident involving Dutch tourists

The cost of the pass appears to have been 30 000 pounds.

Alternate Names: Ruiter bos, Brandwaghoogte.

Altitude 860 metres, GPS way Points : S 33.87239   E 22.03117  On the R328







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Filed under 4x4, African continent, Little Karoo, Passes, Tours, Western Province Travel

The Fourth in the Series Of Famous South African Passes the Cats Pass & Franschhoek Pass

There was no properly engineered road from Cape Town across the “Mountains of Africa” when Lord Charles Somerset authorised the construction of Franschhoek pass in 1823. The Franschhoek valley is closed off at its eastern end by the Franschhoek Mountains, and the pass sneaks across around the northern toe of this range known as Middagkransberg between the Wemmershoek Mountains.

Franschhoek Pass

Until the French Huguenots settled in what was then known as Olifantshoek, the only route through the Franschhoek mountains to the interior was along a track created by migrating elephants – hence the name.  The route was very narrow and steep, and could not be used by wagons.

In 1818 the Cape government contracted a local farmer – SJ Cats – to build a mountain pass. He had no formal training, and completed the road a year later. The route remained dangerous, and wagons could only carry a maximum load of eight bags of corn. Cats’ road soon fell into disuse.

In 1822 Major William Cuthbert Holloway, head of the Colonial Engineer’s department, chaired a commission to examine the feasibility building a pass – either through the Franschhoek mountains or through the Hottentots Holland. The commission calculated that the latter would be five times more expensive, so the choice fell on Franschhoek.

Labour would be provided by the Mountains 150 soldiers of the Royal Africa Corps stationed temporarily in Cape Town while waiting to be deployed to Serra Leone.

The pass was completed in 1825 and the road was broad enough for allow two wagons to pass each other.

Franschhoek Pass was SA’s first professionally designed and constructed mountain pass, and it also has the country’s oldest stone arch bridge (Jan Joubert’s Gat bridge), and the oldest still in use.

The stone bridge over Jan Joubert's Gat

Franschhoek was originally known as Oilfants Hoek (Elephants Corner) . As the elephant formed a path when they came over the mountains on their migrations it was decided to form a wagon pass following in their footpaths. But the pass was not suitable for wagons. it was therefor decided by Simon van der Stel that the Helshoogte Pass outside Stellenbosch and Olifants Pad should be the route for the wagons bringing much-needed timber from the Riversonderend Valley to Cape Town. unfortunately nothing was done by the government about the pass for a long time.

After more than a hundred years it was decided that the estimated cost of 8,000 rix-dollars was way beyond their means. However a local farmer S.J.Cats volunteered to do his best to construct a pass. This pass was so rough and steep that the maximum load that could be carried was eight bags of corn.

Lord Charles Somerset approved the work in 1822 and agreed that the 150 soldiers og the Royal Africa Corps awaiting shipment to Sierra Leone be called in to assist.

Major William Holloway of the Royal Engineers was put in charge of the project and started work on the eastern side building the first stone arch bridge in the country. A five metre span over a kloof named Jan Joubert’s Gat.

The pass was finished in 1852 for the sum of £8,390-0s-10d.

The pass remained the main gateway to the Overberg and the east until Sir Lowry’s Pass was constructed in 1830.

In 1932/33 the improvements of the geometrics was undertaken.

The pass was finally tarred in the 1960s.

Today the Franschhoek pass, besides its contribution to commerce and farming, provides a delightful drive with some quite breathtaking scenery. It is often referred to as one of “the Four Passes”, a well-known day-trip via Helshoogte, Franschhoek, Viljoen’s and Sir Lowry’s Passes.

Tarred section of Franschhoek Pass

Franschhoek Valley from the Pass

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