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Location: South Africa » Western Cape » Karoo » Swartberg

Swartberg Mountains is a mountain range situated on the edge the Little Karoo

The Swartberg Mountains is a mountain range that runs roughly east-west along the northern edge of the semi-arid area called the Little Karoo  in the Western Cape province of South Africa. To the north of the range lies the other large semi-arid area in South Africa, the Great Karoo.

There are several passes through the Swartberg Range, the most famous of which is possibly the Swartberg Pass that runs between Oudtshoorn in the south and Prince Albert in the north. The pass is not tarred and can be a little treacherous after rain, but offers spectacular views over the Little Karoo and the Great Karoo to the north. The plant life along the pass is particularly interesting, many hundreds of species being found on the Swartberg, as is the drystone work supporting some of its picturesque hairpin bends.

To the east of the Swartberg Pass, the Meiringspoort provides tarred road transit through the Swartberg along a river. The 'poort runs north out of the town of De Rust. The Meiringspoort offers a spectacular drive through incredible rock formations, and is the setting for an annual half marathon that ends in the town of De Rust.

Much of the Swartberg is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


A centre for the local farming community, the Swartberg Farmers’ Association celebrated it’s centenary in 1996. Stock sale days see a flurry of activity, as do sporting get togethers. The old hotel, built in 1922, now serves as supermarket and trading store, and stands at the junction of the Kokstad and Matatiele roads. An annual steam train ride to Creighton is hugely popular. A handful of nearby farms have B&B or self catering accommodation. The East Griqualand information office is located in a former school outside the village on the Underberg road. Watch for the road sign.


Thule Rustler’s Route

Officially opened in October 1997 the Thule Pass was built by the farmers in the Swartberg area over private farmland, to enable a quick reaction to stock theft incidents. Rising to 2537 m over a series of steep cuttings and plateaux, the pass offers a variety of flora and fauna, geographical diversity and spectacular views of the whole of East Griqualand. The pass is 13 km from the first gate to the Thule beacon on the RSA / Lesotho border and will take 1 – 2 hours to ascend. This is not for the amateur – you need to be a proficient 4 x 4 driver to tackle this one. The pass is challenging and affords the four wheel drive enthusiasts (as well as off road motorcycles and mountain bikes) the opportunity to test both themselves and their machines. The revenue collected is used to maintain the pass and to extend the trail, which will eventually offer an alternative return route. Cell phones do not work in this area. To ensure your safety in the event of an emergency, two vehicles per party must travel the pass together at all times.




Accommodation in and around Balgowan

Granny Mouse Country House & Spa    accommodation in Balgowan
Granny Mouse Country House and Spa is in the magnificent Caversahm Valley in Balgowan and surrounded by gardens overlooking conservancy areas on the Lion's River. This classic Country House Hotel, with its reputation for excellence, is located ... More

Millgate Cottage & The Glass Studio    accommodation in Balgowan
Set in the scenic KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, Millgate Cottage is set amid beautiful countryside just off the R103, between Nottingham Road and Howick. Conveniently located for all private schools in the area, it is only 5km from Michaelhouse. Within eas... More

Little Forest    accommodation in Balgowan
This is what you have been searching for, Little Forest is set in the most beautiful surrounds with rolling lawns to a fully stocked trout dam and swimming pool on the water's edge. Little Forest is in the beautiful Balgowan Valley, behind the re... More

Woodridge Country Hotel    accommodation in Balgowan
Woodridge Country Hotel is set in the heart of the KwaZulu Natal Midlands. It is a four star country style retreat for the nature lover who desires fine food, fine wines and a chance to rejuvenate their body, mind and soul. Guests can step out of the... More

Little Paradise Guest Farm    accommodation in Balgowan
Little Paradise is a guest farm in the heart of the Midlands Meander of KwaZulu-Natal, 3 kilometres from Balgowan Station and Michaelhouse School. Our farm is situated on a hillside with a breathtaking view over the Balgowan valley to Nottingham Road... More

Gowan Valley Guest Farm    accommodation in Balgowan
Gowan Valley guest farm offers the ultimate in old-fashioned hospitality in the Natal Midlands near Michaelhouse and other Natal private schools.Meander down into the valley of peace and quiet, where you can relax and unwind in our picturesque settin... More

Hunters Lodge    accommodation in Balgowan
TGCSA 4 Star graded Self-catering cottage,in the heart of the Midlands, 4km from Michaelhouse and within easy reach of many Private Schools. Simple access 200m off the R103. The cottage has been tastefully converted and is situated on a small Stud Fa... More

Caversham Mill Country Cottages    accommodation in Balgowan
History Richard Gower Hodson (17) and James Jefferies Hodson (15), sailed from London aboard the “Nile”, in 1850.  The brothers secured three plots (60 acres), one of which was on the Mpofana River.  They named it "C... More

Newstead Farm    accommodation in Balgowan
Newstead Farm was built in 1848 and is one of the Natal Midlands oldest homesteads.Set in the grounds of the house are five exquisitely appointed en-suite rooms.  Roaring log fires, tennis court, swimming pool and a comfortable guest lounge whic... More

Otter's Creek    accommodation in Balgowan
This retreat is uniquely set in the Caversham Valley overlooking the Impafana River and lush indigenous forest. Walk scenic riverside trails through natural forest and grassland, enjoy the bird and wildlife species typical to riverine forest and gras... More

Caversham Mill Manor House    accommodation in Balgowan
Guests have access to the common areas in the Manor: a casual TV lounge with log fireplace in close proximity to the open plan kitchen (only used when the whole house is booked by one group) and dining area; a formal lounge, also with an antique log ... More

Beaconvlei - The Boat House    accommodation in Balgowan
The Boat House, situated 20m from the edge of our 50 acre private dam, is a picturesque, fully equipped thatched cottage, which sleeps up to five people. It consists of one large and luxurious en-suite bedroom and a large open plan living room with a... More

Notting Hill Lodge    accommodation in Balgowan
Welcome to Notting Hill Lodge. Set in the Midlands Meander where there is a multitude of Arts and Crafts. The Lodge comprizes ten (10x) en-suite suites, set in various buildings and settings. All suites have their own bathrooms, their own separate fu... More

Inverness Cottages    accommodation in Balgowan
Two cottages available in the Caversham Valley 700 metres from the Caversham Mill Restaurant.  Both cottages are self contained.Our cottages are tastefully furnished.  They have a queen bed, with percale linen, down duvets and electric blan... More

Ferns at Abberley Guest House and Cottages    accommodation in Balgowan
On the fringe of the Majestic Drakensburg in the heart of the Natal Midlands lies a charming guest house - Abberley, for "Place of Happiness". Tucked behind an avenue of oak trees, this victorian style homestead offers comfortable accommoda... More

Directory of accommodation in Balgowan