To the East of the West – Part 2

Part 2

Continuing our journey to and around the East of the Western Cape.

Harkerville and the Seven Passes Road

We sat a day aside to drive out to the Harkerville Forest to check things out.

Harkerville map[Source:   Map data ©2014 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google  –  You can click on the picture to enlarge it]

A short distance before we got to Harkerville, I recognised Garden of Eden on the left.  No, not from biblical times, but from the occasion when I was about 8 years old and we visited this forest.  I can remember that I quite liked the idea of wandering off on my own pretending to know where I am.  Until I got lost.

With the amused guidance from a guy who sat on a bench watching me running up and down, I eventually made it out of the woods.  Literally.  By that time I was having difficulties breathing as I had something like an asthma attack as a result of the trauma.  According to my wife this rather moving tale partly inspired some of the action in her book (which, included someone getting lost, of course).

The Forestry building at Harkerville.

Harkerville bosbou

Outside is a detailed map of the area.  I notice the one name as “Koffiehoekbos” (Coffee Corner Forest).  Sounds like my kind of corner of the forest.

Detail kaart Harkerville

There are various hiking trails, bicycle trails, and also horse trails.

Perdekop merker

Perdekop roete

Inside the forest you have a rather mysterious athmosphere.   The silence is audible, save for the Knysna Loeries that you can hear and see from time to time.




I have no idea what these things are, but it seemed like something out of Lord of the Rings.


Returning from Harkerville we decided to take an alternative route back.  Once past that last water mass to the West of Knysna, we turned off on a secondary road.  This road takes you a short distance to the interior where your travel on mostly gravel roads on a route that runs roughly parallel with the N2 in a Westerly direction.

Karatara pad[Source:   Map data ©2014 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

The winding road runs through forests and forestry plantations, going through various passes.  The Phantom Pass, Homtini Pass, Karatara Pass, Hoogtekraal Pass.  You cross seven rivers if you do the full route, namely Swart, Hoogekraal, Homtini, Karatara, Silver, Kaaimans, and Touw. (Source:

On this road the settlement of Karatara is found, North of Sedgefield.

Karatara[Source:  Google streetview:  2014 Google Image Data: February 2010]

Apparently the woodcutters that were active in the forests had their licenses to fell trees revoked in 1939.  They had no other skills or place to stay, and the government moved them to Karatara that was established for them.

Woodville Yellow wood tree

At Woodville we turned off to go see the 800 year old yellow wood tree.

Woodville Geelhoutboom

The tree is said to be 33 meters high with a crown width of 34 meters, and a stem circumference of 12 meters.  By any description, this is a largish tree, I think.

A notice next to the tree pleads with the omnipresent assholes to not damage the yellow wood tree, but to rather carve their names on a tree designated for this purpose (the asshole tree?).

By the time we left the tree, light was failing, and we took the escape route South bound to the N2 via Hoekwil.  I think we missed a further few nice passes, but I did not want to traverse those with darkness falling.

We eventually arrived in Gouritsmond well after dark.  Living in the city causes one to become unaccustomed to real darkness.  It’s amazing to drive on the road running past Boggomsbaai and Vleesbaai on the way to Gouritsmond, and to experience the absolute darkness where there is no artificial lighting.

The seven passes road was an absolute delight.  The Tucson behaved exemplary.  I reckon I can safely say that a good day was had by all.  Also for the visit we paid Knysna, which I will deal with in part 3.

Part 3 to follow.



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