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BBain’s Kloof Pass, created in the 1850s, is one of South Africa’s finest scenic passes. And like almost every well-made mountain pass in South Africa, the name Bain is linked to it. Andrew Geddes Bain was an engineer, writer, palaeontologist and painter but people remember him for his beautiful roads.
Before 1840, the Western Cape town of Wellington went by a couple of other names, depending on whether you were Dutch or French Huguenot. The French called it Val du Charron and the Dutch called it Wagenmakersvallei – both meaning Cartwright's Valley. But Sir George Napier, Governor of the Cape, felt that his personal British military hero needed a lovely little village named in his honour.
Wellington's real connection with the rest of South Africa, however, came 13 years later when the legendary Andrew Geddes Bain connected it to Ceres and the Tulbagh Valley after he completed Bain's Kloof Pass. It was his first mountain pass.
Today, as you drive up Bain's Kloof Pass, you pass wine cellars of note. Near the top, you're in the Witte River area, which hikers love because it leads to a place called Paradise Valley, which blooms madly in season and offers up all manner of rock pools for swimming in.
Bain's Kloof Pass is lovely and made more attractive by the legends that surround its construction. Bain completed the nearby Michell's Pass in the mid-1840s and moved his crew up to the new site, where the Witte River cut into the Limiet Mountains. He basically had a village built to accommodate the ‘highwaymen, more accustomed to blasting and blazing' than the civilised life down below.
His workers were mainly convicts doing their time in these mountains, and they were accommodated in special barracks. To this Bain added a hospital, kitchens, stables, blacksmiths' and carpenters' quarters, a church, a school and a recreational area. There was a constant consignment of 400-odd men who worked on the 18km Bain's Kloof Pass. They completed it in 4 years.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)21 864 1378
How to get here
Wellington is an easy 90 minutes' drive from Cape Town. Turn off the N1 towards Paarl, then take the R44 over the Bain's Kloof Pass.
Things to do
There are delightful walks in local nature reserves, and horse riding through the wine estates is something quite special.
Hiring your own vehicle would give you the most freedom to explore.
What to pack
Apart from your camera and binoculars, take some sturdy shoes or boots, sunscreen, hat and bottled water if you're planning on hiking
What to eat
Many of the wine estates in the area have exquisite restaurants, pairing their wine with local food.
Wine! Some of the best wine estates in South Africa are located around the Wellington area.