Mountain Passes

Verlatenkloof Pass

On the way to Sutherland is the very famous Verlatenkloof Pass winding 1000 metres up the steep slopes of the Roggeveld mountains.

Until 1874 there was limited access to reach Sutherland and a pass was set out by Thomas Bain - son of the famous Andrew Bain who also built Bainskloof near Wellington.

The work started in 1874 and was completed a year later. A Scotsman by the name of William Hesketh was appointed to complete the job. It took an ox wagon with donkeys to move supplies from Matjiesfontein - fourteen days to Sutherland there and back. The post wagon with four horses delivered the mail - and sometimes people as well. It took only four days to do the trip. Fresh horses were used halfway to the town.

Hesketh undertook to build the pass at his own expense until the government had the funds. When D day came for payment the then government did not have the money to pay him and gave him a farm with the name of Klipbanksrivier in lieu of payment.

Halfway up the pass is a stone with his name carved out. Note that the date is 1875.

Ouberg Pass

45 Km from Sutherland one reaches the top of the Roggeveld Mountains and suddenly you find yourself on top of the escarpment. A thousand metres below lies the Karoo valley with a pass winding slowly but surely down, down, down.

Ceres is in the far distance and even the snow on the mountains in Touwsriver can be seen on a clear day. On a good day one can even see Towerkop in Ladismith!!

Further down the pass you will find a very rare plant called Olifantsvoet ..... as well as the Sterboom which is only found in this area.

Gannaga Pass

Set out by the famous Bain family and built with the help of an expanded public works program launched by the then Jan Smuts government through the depression years, Gannaga is an attraction nobody want to miss.

Gannaga is negotiable by sedan cars and will take one over the Roggeveld escarpment climbing the one track Gannaga Pass on to Middelpos. Gannaga is a truly spectacular pass, rising precipitously up through 700 m of Roggeveld escarpment in a 6km stretch of dramatic switchbacks which may not, perhaps, suit the particularly fainthearted.

The rewards are superb views of the great, hazy basin of the Tanqua Karoo below.Most of the pass is protected within the Tankwa Karoo National Park, and halfway up a very healthy Tylecodon paniculatus (Botterboom) forest can be found.

Look out for swirling Black Eagles, Klipspringers and a very rich bird life while admiring the impressive stoneworks keeping the pass together.


Spot the exposed layers of the submarine fans of the Skoorsteenberg Formation which provide geologists, geophysicists and petroleum engineers with a unique study tool.

The Tanqua Karoo is the only non-submerged place in the world where the layers are basically horizontal, making it possible to carry out detailed measurements which assist greatly in the exploration of natural gas and oil reservoirs.