Wagon trail, Sir Lowry’s Pass

Photo courtesy Juergen Schulte

Early colonial pioneers in ox-wagons used Sir Lowry’s Pass to cross the mountains – and the evidence is still there to see.

Just inland from Gordon’s Bay, at the foot of the Hottentots Holland mountains, lies a village named after the picturesque Sir Lowry’s Pass, which is accessed via the N2. Travellers using Sir Lowry’s Pass to cross the mountains from east to west come upon a breathtaking vista of the greater Cape Town area, flanked by the mountains and the sea.

For the adventurous, two popular hiking trails begin at the 420m (1 378ft)-high summit of Sir Lowry’s Pass and wind down into the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, home to one of the world’s largest floral kingdoms. Plant lovers will revel in the variety (more than 1 500 species) of indigenous flora, much of it fynbos, to be seen along these picturesque trails.

There is a viewpoint at the summit of the pass which is used as a launch spot for paragliders. Baboons inhabit the crags along the pass and three streams trickle their way down into the village below.

The pass that was formerly a rutted wagon track is now a four-lane highway which becomes particularly congested at the start and end of holiday periods, when many people travel to and from Cape Town.

British and Dutch settlers built the first rudimentary pass, called the Hottentots Holland Kloof Pass, in the early 1660s, and records show that by 1821, 4 500 wagons used the pass every year to access the interior. The deep ruts left by heavy wagons being dragged over the mountains can still be seen today.

To see this historic trail, start out at the Sir Lowry’s Pass viewpoint on the N2 and follow the trail through the historic Gantouw Pass, where you can clearly see the ruts left in the road by the wagons as well as the original signal cannon.

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