With the number of cheap flights to Cape Town to be found onlineyou can plan more than one trip this year. When you do, be sure to plan at least one holiday around a self-drive route through some of Cape Town’s most scenic mountain passes. You will not be disappointed.
There’s something therapeutic about a scenic self-drive. You can make it even more memorable by sharing the experience with someone special. If the idea of a relaxed road trip that provides a lifetime’s worth of scenic views appeals to your inner-soul, we have some great suggestions for you.
It’s no secret that Cape Town has well over 10 scenic mountain passes for travellers to delight in. However, we picked just 3 of our favourites to share with you. All that is left to do is book your cheap flights to Cape Town, pack your bags, and get ready to hit the road.
The Clarence Drive Pass – Just 1.5 hours from Cape Town on the R44 Road
If you are keen to plan your holiday around a mountain pass without compromising on your beach time, a scenic coastal drive is most likely for you. This is exactly what the Clarence Drive Pass is. It’s a beauty in its own right and many consider it to be the most scenic of all the coastal drives in South Africa. The drive stretches for just 21 kms, but includes a mammoth number of bends, curves and corners – 77 to be exact.
When you embark on the Clarence Drive, you will take the road between Gordon’s Bay and Rooi Els where you will enjoy an unadulterated view of the Hottentots Holland Mountain. Both Gordon’s Bay & Rooi Else are quaint beach towns making either of them the perfect spot to overnight or wet your feet in the sea.
Many who have taken this route have been lucky enough to see whales frolicking in the distance and keen surfers often include a board in their luggage to take advantage of the great surf in this area.
In addition to this, wild Proteas prove to be a delightful sight to the eye. If you see some interesting stone pyramids along the route, take a moment to suss them out. One is to commemorate Jack Clarence, who the route is named after and the other is simply to mark the memory of the road upgrades, which took place in 1998. Your breath and your mind will be taken away by this scenic pass – so don’t forget to take a photo or 2.
Meiringspoort Pass – Just 5 Hours from Cape Town, in De Rust on the N1 Road
It’s well worth booking cheap flights to Cape Town just to drive the Meiringspoort pass. A trip to and through this Pass in De Rust will provide a nature-lover with a lifetime’s worth of nature and beauty. In fact, it is a popular area for avid mountain bikers, trail runners, runners, and nature lovers alike.
Plan a long weekend for this trip and venture out from Cape Town via the N1. Aim to spend a night or twoin the meticulously historic town of Prins Albert then take a slowdrive over the Swartberg Pass to Meiringspoort, and head back via Oudtshoorn, Montague and Barrydale along Route 62. Special mention must be made of this beautiful Swartberg region – it is beyondmagnificent and obviously the main event for many people who venture to this pass on purpose.
There’s nothing ordinary about Meiringspoort with it’s astounding rock formations and towering cliff walls of sandstone. As you drive along the poort which follows the natural gorge, you will be overwhelmed by the scenery displayed throughout the many bends and curves. The pass crosses at least 25 drifts, each with an interesting name. For something a little different, plan to stop at the Skelm, which is a waterfall that plummets into what is rumoured to be the pool where “Karoo’s mermaids” take up residence. You might also find it interesting to visit the Herrie’s Stone which is a national monument in Meiringspoort.
Franschhoek Pass – Just Over 1 Hour from Cape Town on the R45 Road
The Franschhoek Valley is an extremely popular tourist destination. Many people book cheap flights to Cape Town just to head to Franschhoek. Think winelands, beautiful mountains, and a quaint town jam-packed with history and charm – and you will have the perfect picture of Franschhoek in your mind. You can reach Franschhoek along the N1 towards Paarl and then right onto R301 towards Franschhoek. The longer and more scenic route runs along the N2 towards Grabouw via the R321 towards Villiersdorp and across the Theewaterskloof Dam and onto the R45.
Franschhoek Pass was once known as Olifantshoek, as Elephants once roamed the mountainous area. Unfortunately, they are no longer residents of the area, but if you are looking to get back to nature along the way, you can enter the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve. Enjoy a peaceful hike through the fynbos and look out across the glistening streams in the reserve. The entrance to the reserve can be found along the pass.
Other Great Mountain Passes Worth Looking Up
With more than 10 magnificent and breathtaking passes in the Cape we simply can’t cover them all, but there are a couple more that we just have to mention.
- Du Toitskloof Pass – just 1 and a half hours from Cape Town on the R101 road.
- Hex River Pass – just 2 hours from Cape Town on the N1 road.
- Michelle’s Pass – just 2 hours from Cape Town on the R46 road.
- Chapman’s Peak – the most well known of all the Cape passes and just 30 minutes from the city centre.
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