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Business name: The Seven Passes Road
CATEGORY:: Activities
Type: Scenic Drives
About (Owner’s description): The scenic and historic “Seven Passes Road" - constructed by master pass builder Thomas Bain and his brother in law, Adam De Smidt - stretches between George and Knysna, and includes the Swartrivier Pass, Kaaimansgat Pass, Silver River Pass, Touw River Pass, Hoogekraal Pass, Karatara Pass and the Phantom Pass. The passes originated following a commission in the late 1800’s to construct a road between Knysna and George.

The “Seven Passes Road” – also known as the George Road, traverses lush scenery and winds through indigenous forest for roughly 75 kilometres, crossing 10 rivers and 7 gorges.

Swartrivier or Black River Pass

The Swartrivier- or Black River Pass – originally known as the ‘Zwartrivierhoogte Pass’, commences in George, bypasses the Garden Route Dam, crosses the Swart River (or Black River) and ascends to a hilltop in Saasveld . The pass is named for the Swartrivier (or Black River) and was first used in 1853. The pass is suitable for all vehicles and is popular with cyclists.

Kaaimansgat Pass

The Kaaimansgat Pass was built in the 1860’s by Thomas Bain’s brother in law, Adam De Smidt. The Kaaimansgat Pass is an old, narrow and winding road which passes through areas of thick indigenous forest and leads towards the famed ‘black water’ rivers in the area. The pass crosses and old concrete bridge (a national monument) and ends just before the Silver River Pass. Build on the same structure, the concrete bridge replaced the original wooden bridge over the river in 1904, and bears King Edward’s coat of arms. The bridge was declared a national monument in the 1970s.

The Kaaimans River is also known as the Keerom (Turnabout) River named for many travellers that returned when confronted with the daunting prospect of crossing the deep river gorge, and traversing the rugged terrain. River crossings were known to take its toll on ox wagons crossing the river in the 1800s.

Silver River Pass

The Silver River Pass was constructed by Adam De Smidt around 1882, and comprises 2.68 kilometres of tar road winding through indigenous forest, descending from the end of the Kaaimansgat Pass to Wilderness Heights – a charming rural settlement just outside Wilderness village. The pass crosses the Silver River over a charming stone bridge, worthy of a photo opportunity. Baboons and buck are frequently spotted in the area.

Touw River Pass

The Touw River Pass is another pass that was built by Adam de Smidt (Thomas Bain’s brother in law) in 1883. The pass follows the original route, with the exception of a timber bridge that was washed away and replaced with a steel bridge in the 1900’s. The Touw River and surrounding indigenous forest provides an opportunity to encounter forest bird life, and to explore and enjoy unspoilt rock pools.

Hoogekraal Pass

The Hoogekraal Pass descends from the Hoogekraal River and ends short of the Geelhoutsvlei Timber Mill near Knysna. The narrow gravel road winds through 2,98 kilometres of breath taking scenery and ends west of the forestry village of Karatara. The quaint rural village of Hoekwil marks the start of the pass.

The pass affords travellers the opportunity to experience the mystic beauty of indigenous forests described by famous by South African author Daleen Matthee in her novels, such as Circles in the Forest. Legend has it that the Knysna Elephant used to freely roam these forests.

Karatara Pass

The Karatara Pass on the “Seven Passes Road” - follows the Hoogekraal Pass and commences at the Karatara forestry village, located on a plateau just north of the coastal town of Sedgefield. To date Karatara retains its historic charm, infused with warm, local hospitality. The village came into being in 1939 after the South African government withdrew woodcutting permits in the area and relegated the resulting jobless woodcutters to this remote village. Both the pass and the village are named for the Karatara River, located high in the surrounding mountains.

The Karatara Pass is a short, narrow, 3 kilometre pass with sharp twists and turns, dropping 90 meters in altitude to the Karatara River Valley, where it crosses the river over a bridge. Following the Karatara Pass, the road leads into the Homtini Pass – the sixth pass in the “Seven Passes Route”.

Phantom Pass

The Phantom Pass is the final pass in the “Seven Passes Road” between George and Knysna and follows a 7.4 kilometres, narrow and winding, descending gravel road through indigenous forest. The pass ends near the Knysna River Lagoon. The pass is named for the Phantom Moth, which can be found in the area every spring.

Please note, the Seven Passes Road can be accessed either from George or Knysna.
Town: George
Region: Garden Route, South Africa
Garden Route Meander Office Use Only
Registration Date: Sep 24, 2014
First Name: Garden Route Meander
Last Name: Office Use Only
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