Prince Alfred Pass, A Scenic Route In The Cape Mountain Range

After visiting the Karoo Heartland of South Africa we headed towards the Garden Route on the coast. What we thought would be a shorter route ended up being over three hours of driving on a nail biting road called the Prince Alfred Pass.  When we looked at our map there appeared to be two choices of how to get to the coast. Choice one was to drive out of our way to the west and drive on the N9 to the city of George and then backtrack to our intended destination of Storms River. We saw a second choice that looked like a much shorter and direct route. It was the route from Uniondale to Knysna on the R339. Once we arrived in Knysna it would be just a short drive to Storms River. Nothing on the map indicated that the R339 was anything other than a main road so we decided it was the best choice.

A Narrow Gravel Road Of Steep Cliffs And Switchbacks

Perhaps we should have inquired with some locals about the drive. The map did not indicate that it was a gravel and dirt road the entire 88 km’s. Our lesson learned is not to assume that the shortest distance between two points on a map is going to be the quickest or easiest route. Many sections were only wide enough for a single car width. When the road was first built it was used as an ox cart trail and hasn’t advanced much since its first use.

Don’t get me wrong, the views were spectacular as we navigated the constant switchbacks along the cliff faces, but the heights were staggering and not for the faint of heart. It was a very tense trip, Jack had to concentrate on driving so he did not have much opportunity to enjoy the views. It’s impossible to see if another vehicle is coming on some of the narrow blind corners, you need to honk your horn before proceeding through them. The road crosses over the river seven times and it meanders through the mountainous terrain of forest and farmland. As you approach the coast you can continue on R339 to Knysna or split off onto R340 to Plettenberg Bay. We couldn’t be happier to have finally made it to Knysna and get off of the dirt road.

 

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