Here on today’s edition of The Shape of The Cape with your host Julescape, I want to show you the gateway to paradise, called the Kaaiman’s Pass. I named it the gateway to paradise because it is the main highway that you take when traveling from Cape Town in the west, to the Garden Route about 600km further east on the south Cape coast of Africa. And as you pass the town called George (named after you-know-who when the sun never set on his empire) you come to this pass through the mountains and across the Kaaiman’s River, and it brings you – quite suddenly – to the start of the best of the Garden Route, which I call paradise.
Actually the area is also called, in parts, Eden Municipality, precisely because it appears obvious to locals that this region is as close to the Garden of Eden that we will get in this area, so welcome to paradise on earth, here on the south Cape coast of Africa. You may have seen some of my other posts on the exquisite beaches in the are we call paradise, and today you can see the road we take as we are exiting the region to go to the town called George. Now imagine coming around the corner from the other side, entering this region. As you round the mountain pass, suddenly you are confronted with the most beautiful vista of the Indian Ocean and the magical stretch of beach below. This is the Wilderness Beach that will see (as mentioned in earlier posts) and it is like a breath of fresh air for the long distance traveller.
This Kaaiman’s River is also known as the Keerom River, which translate to mean – the turnaround river – because in historic times, way before tarred highways, trekkers who would reach this river found it so difficult to traverse that they were often obliged to turn around and go back due to being unable to cross it. Apparently the original river name may have been Caymans or something similar, and may have alluded to crocodiles, although it was probably just and iguana, as there are no crocodiles historically in the Garden Route. Anyway, fortunately today we have a fine tarred highway, although you will need to be very wary of the speed cameras along the pass. Just a friendly warning of the modern day crocodiles lying in wait.
Curiously this very area was the private home of the old president of the old Apartheid era South Africa. Back in the seventies, when I was a child, our Afrikaaner president, or head of the government in those days, by the name of P.W. Botha, used to life in this region, since it was probably the most beautiful in the land. And his nickname was “die ou krokodil” or “the old crocodile”. I’m not sure if that was an insult or a compliment, but there you are. At least it’s not as bad as the nickname of the recently retrenched president – Jacob Zuma – whose Zulu middle name meant something like “he who laughs while stabbing you in the back”. I kid you not. In fact here’s a quote from the ex-pres himself: “He he he he he he he he he.....” He said that during his opening of parliament speech more than once.
Nevertheless back to the Pass, which is a small one though steeply winding, and at one area beside the road, you have Dolphin Point, which is a prime lookout point where you can park and get a 270 degree view of the exquisite Wilderness Beach way below, stretching off into the distance. The pass has only been around since the 1950s, and I’m so glad they finished it in time for our visit because the views are just breathtaking. And it’s only a matter of minutes from the paradise of the beach via the pass across the river, and up the hill to the town called George, which has all the amenities, including large cinema complex at the very large shopping mall, by local standards. George is also where the major airport of the Garden Route is located, so those who fly in from Cape Town or Johannesburg will land there and can be at the seaside paradise within minutes via a hired car.
So when you get to South Africa on your next world trip, be sure to make your way to the town called George, and down the Kaaiman’s Pass, and you will be amazed as you pass through the gateway to the Garden Route proper, and you see the majestic views down below of the most interesting and alluring beaches on the African sub-continent.