The Tradouw Pass - The ninth step ... Somewhere in South Africa - CycleBlaze

January 8, 2021

The Tradouw Pass

Swellendam to Barrydale

Before we could leave this morning I had to repair a puncture, the first of the trip.  As expected it was dubbeltjie, the dreadful devil thorns that are able to puncture any tyre.  Then it was a short steep climb up to the N2, the national road that stretches from Cape Town along the coast through the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal to Ermelo in Mphumalanga province in the north-east.  The mountains were shrouded with low and heavy cloud so it was hot and humid work until the easy ten kilometers down to the popular road house along the N2 at Buffelsjagt.  Here we enjoyed a great breakfast of roosterkoek (griddle bread) filled with egg and bacon.  The traditional filling is butter and apricot jam but egg and bacon seemed the better choice for breakfast.

The wake-up climb out of Swellendam.
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Clouds stretched southwards across the Bontebok National Park and towards the Agulhas plain as well.
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Can't resist taking photos of old Landys.
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Leigh found her breakfast large enough to count as lunch as well.
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Elspeth JarmanThis looks absolutely mouth watering!
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1 week ago

We were back on thee N2 for another kilometer before turning up to Suurbraak, a small missionary village established in 1812.  It seems to have developed a lot since we were last there and I fear that its gentrification may make it difficult for the folk who have lived a simple life there for so many years.

On the way to Suurbraak we stopped at Rietvallei (reed valley) to look at the plaque commemorating the site where settlers and the Hessequa used to trade.  What was interesting about it was that the inscription was in four languages (English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa and what I assume to be one of the Khoikhoi dialects).  The Hessequa were the Khoikhoi tribe who lived in the area at the time.

The plaque at Rietvallei.
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Rietvallei
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The Dutch Reformed Church in Suurbraak.
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A few kilometers east of Suurbraak we turned northwards to tackle the Tradouw Pass that leads to Barrydale, a little town where my parents lived for many years.  Tradouw means the road of the women in the Khoikhoi dialects.  Originally built by Thomas Bain following the ancient route through the mountains, it rates as one of South Africa's prettiest little passes.  The net ascent is only about two hundred and twenty meters but most of that is in the first few kilometers.  After that it dips, climbs and curves through the mountains until exiting into the Little Karoo just south of Barrydale.  It's a pass for which making a detour is definitely worthwhile and despite the fact that we have driven through it often (and I  even ran the length of it once in my younger day) we still enjoyed traveling it again.

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As we entered the pass we disturbed a small troop of baboons.  Leigh said "You had better take a photo" but by the time I had got my phone out most of them had headed for the hills.

Terrible shot but the photo is for Scott Anderson.
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Scott AndersonHey, thanks for thinking of me! I was disappointed reading the narrative above, thinking you hadn’t bothered.
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1 week ago
The piece of road in the distance at the top center is about three quarters of the way up the climb.
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Looking back down to from where the previous picture was taken.
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Drupkelder (drip cellar) at about three quarters of the way up. This little cave is a good candidate for wild camping. Dry, sheltered, reasonably level and with a supply of really nice water (a tiny trickle drips down over the mouth of the cave.).
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Middle section of the pass.
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Ericas in flower.
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Once at the top, much of the pass twists and turns in a roller coaster until the northern entrance.
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Enjoying the views. The sun started to make an appearance at about this point.
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Near the northern entrance of the pass.
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Barrydale has also changed a lot over the years.  Its proximity to Cape Town and its location along the popular Route 62, as the R62 has become known, has made it very commercialised and busy.  Despite there being a lot of available accommodation, none of it is particularly good or affordable.  We are staying in the rather crummy Barrydale Backpackers which perfectly fits the description in the previously sentence.

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Today's ride: 45 km (28 miles)
Total: 1,687 km (1,048 miles)

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Bill ShaneyfeltOh yeah! The dubbeltjie is what we call goat heads here in the US. Nasty invasives indeed!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribulus_terrestris

Much enjoying the nature photos and especially the ones with IDs.
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1 week ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Bill ShaneyfeltThanks for the link, Bill. I've got to get my camera out more often so I can take some nature shots.
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1 week ago