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Van Wyksdorp - Klein Karoo South Africa | 2013 (1)

Publication Date : 2013-08-11
Author/s : Vernon Gibbs-Halls

The Rooiberg Pass

The beautiful Rooiberg  Pass lies within the Rooiberg Conservancy, a 60 000 hectare mountainous area in the Klein Karoo. This conservancy in turn forms part of the Gouritz Biodiversity Meander, which aims to conserve this incredible meeting place of three biomes, one of only 35 biodiversity hot spots on Earth.  The Rooiberg Pass meanders through beautiful ravines and over rocky slopes that form part of a large catchment area, through which several rivers pass. In the time it takes you to drive from its southern slopes to the northern side, you will have passed from a type of vegetation that provides you with proteas, to one where Karoo scrub is the dominant plant form

And the views of the Rooiberg as you approach it from either side are incredible.But take a moment to look behind you. In the higher areas of the Rooiberg  Pass are incredible indigenous forests that contain stinkwood trees, and if you can take the time to stop and sit awhile, a new endemic butterfly was recently discovered here, known as the Thestor rooibergensis. It is best to head up the pass with Van Wyksdorp behind one, via Dwars-in-die-Weg.

At the summit is a cairn of precariously stacked prayer stones, said to be where travellers stopped to pray every time they made the trip over the mountains, and before they set off on the rather steep descent. The hamlet of Buffelsfontein, now known as Vanwyksdorp, was opened up to travel from Calitzdorp as far back as the late 1800’s via the Rooiberg pass.  It is unknown exactly when the use of the new pass commenced. However it was used by commandant Gideon Scheepers in his trip from Calitzdorp to Buffelsfontein during September 1901. He describes the road over the mountain as “an old wagon trail”. The road stretches past “Dwars-in-die-Weg”, south of the Rooiberg, via Nekkies Drift and Grootmis up to Assegaay Bosch and from there via Bosch  River up to Van Wyksdorp. The current pass was built in the 1930’s during the Depression.

The cairn on the Rooiberg Pass - It is said that many years ago, when the travelling evangelist, Reverend Odendaal, arrived in Vanwyksdorp, he had previously conducted services in the Gamka valley in Calitzdorp. On his departure from Calitzdorp via the Rooiberg pass, which was only an old wagon road at the time, the Reverend was accompanied by twelve horsemen. This company was met on the top by more horsemen from Vanwyksdorp who would guide the Reverend the rest of the way. The preacher then ordered all the riders to take a stone close by. Then they put together a written vow "to resist evil in His Holy Name". Among the singing of Psalm 146, every man placed his stone at the site. Then Reverend Odendaal said a prayer and the two little companies parted.  Some people believe that many road users feel closer to their Creator at the top of Rooiberg, surrounded by majestic mountain ranges to the north and south and after adding a stone to the pile. The fact that the cairn is still getting bigger, shows that there are still road users who are inspired by this feeling. Don’t forget to place your own stone on there when you reach the summit.


Citation :

COPYRIGHT | | Klein Karoo | South Africa

Animalia, phylum Arthropoda
class Insecta
order Lepidoptera
Heterocera Rhopalocera
Hesperioidea Hedyloidea Papilionoidea
Papilionidae, Pieridae, Lycaenidae, Riodinidae, and Nymphalidae
Author : James Smith
Photography : Dean Jones
Video : Malcolm Johnson
Copyright John Smith


ingdom Animalia, phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, and order Lepidoptera. Generally, the order Lepidoptera is broken down into two sub-orders: Heterocera (the “varied-antennaed” moths) and the “club-antennaed” Rhopalocera, the sub-order to which the butterflies belong. The Rhopalocera sub-order includes 3 superfamilies: The true butterfly superfamily contains 5 families of butterflies: Papilionidae, Pieridae, Lycaenidae, Riodinidae, and Nymphalidae.

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