A three-minute trip report...

Johan du Preez's picture

Points: 4

As I adjusted my field of vision, the narrow blur of the passing road underneath me changed to a panoramic landscape of a Karoo plain, alternated by koppies – no, actually small mountains – to my left and to my right. Ahead was a horizon begging to be explored. And as the herbal fragrance of Karoo vegetation, intensified by the cool drizzle softly waking up nature at this early hour of the morning started to cleanse the inner me, I knew that the best thing that I’ve done was to get onto my motorbike and to start riding... 

Plateau with Karoo vegetation on the way to the Koo valley.

The Koo Valley.

Another shot of the Koo valley.

Route 62.

Seweweekspoort.

Nature's Valley.

Exploring the old Bloukrans Pass road. This tree has been chopped down to block the road shortly after turning off from the N2 coming from Knysna. Road inaccessible.

I then continued on the N2 and turned off on the old road around 15 km further on to approach the Bloukrans Pass from the Port Elizabeth side. Again the road was blocked but I managed to go around and followed it right down to the old bridge (see the picture below). The road is in disrepair, in places even dangerous. So sad. We've lost yet another striking pass in one of our country's most scenic settings.

The original Bloukrans bridge.

The diner at Stormsrivier village. Next time do not go past this village when you rush through to Port Elizabeth. A must see!

The Ou Tronk in Riversdale. An amazing place for a meal and to browse around.

Part of the inside of the old prison.

Nearly home...

Charles Oertel's picture
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Joined: 2007/04/14

It's criminal the way the old Bloukrans pass has been neglected.  I am pretty sure SANRAL is obliged to maintain that road as an alternative to the toll road.

It burns my arse to have to pay the toll on a motorbike - especially when I see a 4x4 towing two bikes paying the same amount.

It is always nice to have a quick skinny-dip at the old bridge, and doubly nice if it is free of charge!

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Johan du Preez's picture
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Joined: 2007/06/20

You're right about the toll fee, Charles. R43 for a motorcycle (the same that a motorcar pays) just doesn't make sense. And then there is no alternative route available. 

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Zanie's picture
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Joined: 2013/11/21

What day did you try to ride Bloukrans? Lance and I rode there on 30th December. There were no trees blocking the way and even half of the big mound of dirt has been moved aside (I assume by the locals). You could ride straight through.

There were many vehicles on the road; not just 4x4s. Other than a couple of rocks on the side of the road and some leaning vegetation, the road was in really good condition. I didn't see any bits where the actual tar was cracked or where road surface was subsiding. It appears that someone has done some maintenance/clean-up work. My general impression: I have no idea why the road is kept closed.

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Joined: 2007/06/25

We strolled through on the 27th, was rather warm in Natures Valley though. On to Kareedouw through Uniondale, Willowmore and Klaarstroom to Prince Albert, where else? Damaged the front rim on the LC on that Willowmore rd.crying No problem let's phone Lyn Schroeder in George, several calls later they "maak 'n plan". smileyMagnificent service, thanks guys for sorting this out for a tourist from the big smoke. Just another reason why I ride BMW. 

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Johan du Preez's picture
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Joined: 2007/06/20

Zanie, interesting to note that the pass was open when you went through there in December. I rode the pass last week on the 15th of January 2016 and apart from the tree, there were also road signs (which I've seen before when I drove past on the N2 earlier in 2015) saying that Bloukrans Pass had been closed. Even the town names on the road signs once I've turned off onto the Bloukrans road had been covered with red sticky tape.

The tree that was blocking the road hadn't merely fallen over. It was clearly cut to fall over and block the road. There were even smaller logs cut and positioned on the road to further improve the roadblock. This was shortly after the turnoff from the N2 coming from Knysna's side.

I went around the big mound of dirt that you've mentioned on the opposite entrance to the pass to ride down to the bridge. There were also signs of what I refer to as leftovers of a steel Armco type roadblock erected probably a long time ago, but with only bits and pieces still in place. 

It must have rained recently - I assume overnight - as the area was quite wet. (I encountered rain in Knysna and on my way further on to Stormsrivier on that day.) There were quite a number of areas on the mountain side of the road where rocks and mudslides were visible while going down. I can recall at least three areas in tight corners where the road surface started to subside and cracks were clearly visible.

As you say, apart form the tree, there is nothing to prevent driving the road. (I came across a couple in a Corolla who seemed annoyed having to turn back as result of the tree after they entered from the Port Elizabeth side.) My personal opinion is that it is not fit for normal traffic and that a lot of rehabilitation will have to take place to make the pass usable and safe again. 

Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of the signage, but I found these two on Google Earth dated 11/2014:

      

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Zanie's picture
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Joined: 2013/11/21

I won't say that the road was "open." More that it was "passable for the average vehicle." The "closed" road-signs were everywhere, but were simply ignored. There was no tree. I suppose the authorities decided to put a stop to the holiday festivities on the pass. Let's see how long it takes before the locals remove that as well. They must be seriously pissed off that they are forced to use the toll road.

Johan du Preez's picture
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Joined: 2007/06/20

Thank you for clarifying, Zanie. Yes, the locals certainly have a problem with no alternative route available. R86 for a return trip just to get around a fallen tree already was too much for me. And I only had to do it once out of curiosity, not every day to make a living! 

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