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bosluiskloof pass

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Bosluiskloof Pass photo wikipedia

Bosluiskloof Pass                           photo Wikipedia

Bosluiskloof pass is today the pass to nowhere!

Starting at the northern end of the Seweweekspoort, this pass dates back to 1862. It was built over the original rugged, steep wagon trail link going east to Prince Albert and Beaufort (West) which was in use from the early 1800s.

GPS    S33.348    E21.471  to   S33.314    E21.525

Bosluiskloof pass was built in 1862 by Adam de Smidt while he was working on – and after the completion of – the Seweweekspoort road. De Smidt was the brother-in-law of master pass builder Thomas Bain

The fact that Adam de Smidt gained his road building experience under Thomas Bain can be clearly seen in the stone packed retaining walls along this pass.  As with Bain’s work, that of de Smit has also withstood the test of time

Built through a remarkably rich fossil bed area, the pass gets its name from the multitude of fossilised ancient arthropod scavengers, the trilobites found on site. These date back 570 million years to the start of the Cambrian bosluiskloof - vistaperiod.

The pass got its name from the fact that these fossilised trilobites look rather like the common bush tick of today, known in Afrikaans as ‘bosluis’.  A wide variety of fossils are found here, another common one being the clam-like lampshell, the Brachiopod.

Opening the way for travel to the hinterland and eastern Karoo districts, the pass became known as ‘the Gateway to the Ghoup’. The Ghoup being an arid area in the rain shadow of the Swartberg mountains, beyond Prince Albert, towards Willowmore. The name’s spelling has varied from Goup, Ghoup, Gouph, Cope and Koup.

Geologist and explorer Dr W G Atherstone, in an article on the Ghoup in the Cape Monthly Magazine of July 1873 stated :

“……an ancient Bushman, drawing himself up authoritatively, drawled out “Ka-oup-h !” with a whispered ‘h’ at the end, heard beneath the breath, as if one sneered out softly “pooh !” The Boer … called it simply “kaup,” which, in the Bushman tongue means vet or fat, a term applied by hunters to a bee’s nest filled to the brim with luscious honey…”

Waterpoint sign at the Ghoup

Waterpoint sign at the Ghoup

If you ever stop at the side of the road near Willowmore for some of that wonderful free clean Karoo spring water on tap, offered by a local farmer, you are right in the Ghoup!

The scenic view from Bosluiskloof pass is unusual at certain times of day – a sea of blue cones to the horizon, giving the impression of a very choppy sea frozen in time.  Although the pass is not seriously difficult, take care with sharp bends – the view to the bottom where the carcass of at least one vehicle can be seen, does tell a cautionary tale

The Bosluiskloof Pass was brought to a dead-end by the construction and opening of the Gamkakloof dam by the Department of Water Affairs in 1969. This dam has completely blocked off the kloof road which now leads no further.  Should you go down this pass you have to come out the same way.

Gamkapoort dam photo DWAF

Gamkapoort dam                           photo DWAF

A 4×4 trail is offered from the pass by the Boschluyskloof Eco Lodge.

Once an important trading route which opened up the area for farmers and travellers alike, the Bosluiskloof pass is today a spectacular, scenic, wilderness mountain road to nowhere!