I love mountain passes and the back roads between George and Knysna on the Garden Route are a fabulous indulgence thanks to a single must-do drive that will knock your flip-flops off. This is among the loveliest mountain passes in South Africa: the Seven Passes road on the Garden Route.
I’m talking, of course, about that king of mountain passes in South Africa, the Seven Passes Road along the back roads between George and Knysna. Obviously, the name is a hint: there are seven passes along this road, from the Kaaimansgat Pass to the Touw River Pass, Hoogekraal to Homtini, via Karatara and Rheenendal, ending at Phantom Pass, which runs along a river and spits you back out onto the N2 on the western outskirts of Knysna. (By the way, you don’t need to worry about being stalked by ghosts on Phantom Pass, it’s actually named after something far more earthly – the white phantom moth.)
Yeah, yeah, it will probably take you at least twice as long to drive this back road as it would to cover the same distance on the N2, but who’s in a hurry?
Then prepare to immerse yourself in a shady green world of indigenous forests and vistas peppered with romantic old bridges that beg to be photographed; a world you’ve read about in Dalene Matthee’s novels; a world of behind-the-times rural settlements and fat, happy cows.
Whatever you do, don’t rush. Take the time to explore. Take the detour to the Map Of Africa viewpoint at Wilderness Heights for a spectacular view over river and forest in one direction and sea in the other. Stop at the Woodville Big Tree (800-year-old Outeniqua yellowwood, 33m high and 12m in circumference) for a short forest walk or picnic, or at one of the small country shops along the way to buy a cold drink and talk to the locals.
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Self-catering Wilderness accommodation: Boardwalk Lodge
More about the Garden Route
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