The Swartberg Pass is situated in the Klein Karoo (Little Karoo) area of the Western Cape, South Africa. It is a natural wonder that is considered to be one of the most scenic drives in the world.

When one ambles through the pass it’s as if, they have been transported to another planet. Giant rock formations and cliff faces tower over the road making it literally a visual fiesta for anyone who decides to take the slow way around and road trip through the iconic Swartberg Pass which also is a part of the greater Swartberg (Black Mountain) area.

The Swartberg Nature Reserve nearby was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2004. If you’re passing by, here are five tips for driving through the Swartberg Pass.

Take it easy


Take it easy you’re on an adventure and aren’t in a rush, there are some breathtaking views and you’ll want to take it all in. Also, the dirt roads on the route can be quite treacherous so bare this in mind, if you keep at a low speed you’ll also see more.

Take lots of pictures

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The rock formations that you will be exposed to are spectacular and your friends back home won’t believe the stories if you don’t take lots of photos.

Make sure your camera is fully charged and your memory cards are empty before you leave for the drive, as there won’t be many chances on the road.

Drive carefully, 4×4 not needed but recommended


A 4×4 isn’t necessary; however, experts who have travelled the route extensively say that you will have a far more enjoyable experience with a 4×4 vehicle.

If you don’t own one, consider a 4×4 rental or manage the pass in a lighter vehicle. However, just drive cautiously. It’s recommended that you keep to a speed of 30/40km.

Pack warm clothing


Once you get to the top you’re going to want to spend some time gazing at the spectacular views; however, there is a good chance it’s going to get rather chilly so pack an extra jacket or warm clothes.

The winter months in this part of the world can get cold, the breathtaking fauna and flora of the area are in bloom in spring (September) this is definitely something to consider when planning your trip.

Take in the history


The Swartberg Pass is an historic area which has helped shape South African frontier history, it was made using prisoner labour on January 10th 1888 by Thomas Bain a South African road engineer.

There are various significant historical sights on the route and most of them are signposted and all have a story to tell, signs include Die Stalletjie (Small Stall), Witdraai (White Corner), Fonteintjie (Small Fountain), Skelmdraai (Devious Corner), and of course Die Top (The Top).