South Africa :: Western Cape (Overberg)
Category: Scenic Routes :: Mountain Pass
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The historic Gantouw Pass is today known as the Hottentots-Holland Kloof and is situated at the top of Sir Lowry's Pass in the Hottentots-Holland Nature Reserve. The local Khoi herders used to call the track that stretched over the Hottentots-Holland Mountain T'kana Ouwe.
|Address :||Western Cape, South Africa|
“The local Khoi herders used the track over the mountains which they called Gantouw (or T'kana Ouwe) to move their cattle as the seasons dictated. The VOC people translated 'Tkana Ouwe' as Eland's Path or Elandspad. Later, when Somerset West and the Helderberg district became known as Hottentots Holland, the Gantouw was referred to as the Hottentots Holland Kloof, and the mountains as the Hottentots Holland Mountains. This track is just to the north of the present-day National Road, and can still be picked out on the ground. By climbing the rock mountain ourselves we cannot, without some surprise, imagine loaded wagons ascending and descending so steep and frightening a road nor will we, without a compassionate feeling for the oxen, witness their toil and labor, carried to the very utmost of their strength; sometimes encouraged by good words, at other times terrified into exertion by blows of Shambok, the loud crack of the whip, the smart of the lash, or the whoop and noisy clamor of the driver and his laborers. The danger in which both oxen and wagon are placed while passing the mountains, renders the utmost care and vigilance indispensable. For, should they become restive, and deviate from the proper road, or obstinately refuse to draw, the wagon would be thrown down the precipice, dragging them and perhaps the driver also, along with it to inevitable destruction. (Using the words of William Burchell, 1811) By 1821 more than 4.500 wagons were using Hottentots Holland Kloof each year - and one out of every five wagons damaged in the pass. Crossing this pass was rather a scramble but, despite the fact that it was extremely steep and dangerous, Hottentots Holland Kloof remained the main route to the east over the mountains for more than 15O years, until Sir Lowry's Pass was built in 1830.” - Deon van Zijl, 2009/07/08
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