We decided on dedicating a special blogpost to the spectacular Swartberg Pass in recognition of International Mountain Day 2012.
The Swartberg Pass is an engineering masterpiece designed and built (with convict labourers, many of whom died during construction) by the renowned Thomas C.J. Bain between 1881 and 1888.
Thirty kilometres in length, with a gravel surface, it connects the Western Cape towns of Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert and, crossing over the beautifully unspoilt Swartberg (Afrikaans for “Black Mountain”) while reaching a maximum height of over 1500 metres above sea level, the scenery is as awe-inspiring as the numerous tight switch-back bends are hair-raising!
The Swartberg Pass is a national monument, and the Swartberg Nature Reserve is a World Heritage Site.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has declared the 11th of December 2012 to be International Mountain Day, to focus attention on the importance of mountains all over the globe in safeguarding the planet’s supply of freshwater and other renewable natural resources.