Cycling the Helshoogte Pass
Did you know?
Translated into English, Helshoogte means “hell's heights”.
The Helshoogte Pass cycling route, which was originally built in 1854 and most recently upgraded in 2010, offers a safe and scenic way to explore the area round Stellenbosch, South Africa’s second-oldest town.
This cyling route links Stellenbosch to the R45 road between Franschhoek and Paarl.
The scenery along this route includes the Cape Winelands, Simonsberg, Jonkershoek, Drakenstein and Stellenbosch Berg Mountains that tower majestically above the green valley below.
The quaint but scenic town of Pniel is one of the route highlights, home to historic wine farms, such as Boschendal Winery.
The farms in this region were established by French Huguenots from 1688 and are characterised by classic Cape Dutch architecture.
While the climb up Helshoogte Pass is fairly steep in some sections, the view from the top is very rewarding and the descent is a breeze.
Near the top of Helshoogte Pass is the Thelema Mountain Vineyards, a fruit and wine farm that is situated approximately 640m above sea level. This estate can be visited between 09h00 and 17h00 during the week, as well as between 10h00 and 15h00 on Saturdays.
Other estates riders might like to visit include the Hillcrest Berry Orchards, a popular breakfast venue, as well as Tokara, which is well known for its wine-tasting room.
You can hire mountain bikes from Bonga’s Mountain Bike Hire in Stellenbosch, which is located at the Stumble Inn Backpackers.
Bicycles can also be hired in Cape Town from operators such as Bike and Saddle, Downhill Adventures and Cape Town Cycle Hire.
Helshoogte Pass features in several top South African cycling competitions, such as the annual Die Burger Cycling Tour, which usually takes place in May.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Cape Town Routes Unlimited
Tel: +27 (0)21 405-4500
Bonga’s Mountain Bike Hire at the Stumble Inn Backpapckers
Tel: +27 (0)21 887-4049