DRIVING ALONG JOUBERTS PASS
BEFORE YOU START
The construction of a water filtration plant may block the road shortly after the turn-off to the bottom of the Lady Grey Dam wall and the road could be closed. However, it is possible to park the vehicle and walk to the dam. There is another turn-off which takes you to the top of the Lady Grey Dam wall.
The steep gradient or depth of the valley can cause a sensitive passenger to become anxious. If your starting point is Lady Grey, the valley will be to your left. Passengers with a fear of heights should sit behind the driver (on the right hand side of the vehicle).
JOUBERT’S PASS IN THE EIGHT PASSES CHALLENGE
The Eight Passes Challenge covers a scenic route that traverses the Eastern Cape Highlands (Southern Dra-kensberg) and includes some of the highest mountain passes in South Africa. In order of altitude, the eight passes are Naude’s Nek Pass (2590m), Carlisleshoek Pass (2517m), Volunteershoek Pass (2381m), Joubert’s Pass (2236m), Bastervoetpad Pass (2235m), Lundean’s Nek Pass (2165m), Otto du Plessis Pass (2114m) and Barkly Pass(2020m).
Joubert’s Pass is the fourth highest mountain pass in South Africa and it has a remarkable gradient of 1:6. In terms of dirt road, Joubert’s Pass is usually in good condition. (Altitudes of highest points on these passes were supplied by Ivan Hansen, Land Surveyor from Queenstown)
The next optional turn-off is to the right, to Witfontein Dam and Verkykerrand. Witfontein Dam is within view of the turn-off. Verkykerrand is approximately 1.5 Km further and you will need at least 10 minutes to enjoy the view and take photos.
Back on Joubert’s Pass, drive across the top of a pretty waterfall that feeds the Lady Grey Dam. Take note how the vegetation changes into alpine shrubs as the altitude increases. The next optional turn-off is to the left, and it takes you to the top of Lady Grey Dam wall. At the turn-off point the altitude is approximately 1800m. The top of the dam wall is approximately 1Km and it is recommended that you park your vehicle just inside the gate and walk to the dam wall. Experienced 4X4 drivers could attempt to drive further at their own risk. You will be able to walk to the bottom of the dam via the natural staircase.
As you continue up Joubert’s Pass you will find Witfontein, Bloubosspruit and Die Quarry (Alt. 1900m). Look up at the westerly ridges of the mountain and you will see basalt cliffs that look like the spine on the tail of a dragon. Locals call it Aasvoëlkranse (Vulture Cliffs). The layer of basalt was deposited during volcanic eruptions in pre-historic times. The western face of the mountain is often covered with a layer of snow dur-ing winter.
Continue until you find Ian se Afgrond (Alt. 2000m). This is where Ian and his friends had an accident when coming down the pass in his mother’s new Audi.
As you continue, you will find Rooiplaat where two road maintenance workers lived. They kept the pass in perfect condition for many years. Carry on and occasionally look towards Lady Grey as the best photo oppor-tunities occur from this point onwards. Wilgespruit (Alt. 2100) and Perskedraai are close together where a number of peach trees used to grow. A little further, on the outer edge of the mountain it is usually windy, hence the name Windpunt. From here you will be approaching the steepest section of the pass. The gradi-ent is 1:6 just below the summit. The Neck has parking space for a few vehicles. Stop and enjoy the in-credible views. This spot is named “Hemel op Aarde”. To the west there is a distant view of the Lady Grey Dam, the majestic “Aasvoëlkranse” (vulture cliffs), the village and the plain beyond. The eastern descent is short but steep and includes views of a lush valley ringed by mountains and dotted with farm buildings. The stone tablet at Hemel op Aarde credits the seven farmers who built the pass. You will notice a heavily pad-locked gate and a steep road beyond it. This is the optional turn-off to the communications tower and sensi-tive passengers are forewarned. You need the necessary permission and the keys. Continue carefully down the eastern side on the pass lest you discover where Skrikdrif (fright drift) got its name. The remainder of the road meanders through a valley of farmlands with towering mountains and sparkling mountain streams.
On the farm Unity you will find “Kar Wegspoeldrif” (Car wash-away Drift) where the car of Tom Isted from the farm Olympus was washed down the stream during heavy rain (about 1955). Further on you find “Kar Sumpdrif”. Fortunately the drifts have been improved since those days. The Road drops into a valley through the Lammergeyer Private Nature Reserve and nine kilometers further it meets up with the R58 that links Lady Grey and Barkly East.