Spooky Cape mountains
Did you know?
Andrew Geddes Bain and his son Thomas are responsible for most of the Cape’s spectacular passes.
Until the mid-19th century, the mountains along the southern Cape coast were regarded as insurmountable barriers rather than scenic wonders. This began to change when the Cape became a British colony in 1806. Construction began on a number of passes. Of the passes built, those by Andrew Geddes Bain and his son, Thomas, are considered engineering marvels. But legend has it that all are haunted by ghosts.
The Bains first began building Michell’s Pass, which connects Wolseley with Ceres, in 1846. The old thatched, whitewashed tollhouse, situated under huge oak trees just below the railway crossing, is now a tea room, where, it is said, you may come into contact with one of the resident ghosts of South Africa that haunt these parts.
Bain’s Kloof Pass near Cape Town opened in 1853 and is regarded as the most beautiful in South Africa thanks to the granite overhang dubbed Dacres Pulpit, and the Pilkington Bridge that runs alongside a waterfall. It is said that this pass is haunted by Lettie de Jager, who was washed away in a flash flood in 1895 while climbing the Sneeukop.
The Swartberg Pass was Thomas’ masterpiece. Connecting the Klein Karoo and the Karoo over the Swartberg range, this snaking pass rises 1 585m in a 12km stretch between Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert.
There are allegedly a number of haunted sites on the pass, all close to the Prince Albert summit. At a hairpin bend, close to the turn-off to Die Hel, there have been reported sightings of a ghost. Further up, where travellers say they experience a sudden drop in temperature, nearly 30 people perished during a blizzard over a century-and-a-half ago.