Africa trips

Heaven in Hell - A Trip to Hell by Peter Taylor 9 April 2004

Overlanding Trips

It all started early on Good Friday morning. Off to the airport to pick up two friends from Gauteng, back to Wellington and into the Syncro all ready packed and waiting and we were off to The Hell or Gamkaskloof as it is supposed to be called.

On the N2 we stopped to look at the graveyard of the Logan’s and other Matjiesfontein residents in their quaint little cemetery. There was a freezing wind blowing, so we didn’t stay long, but I am sure they didn’t mind.

Next stop was Matjiesfontein itself where we were going to show the Vaalies the museum in the station, but we realized that time was running out so we showed them the Hotel’s bar instead. Much more interesting.

From there we headed off to Prince Albert past Outta Jan Lap’s deserted abode. I wonder what has happened to him? We stopped in town for a few things and then entered the Swartberg Pass. The most amazing pass in the country.

Swartberg Pass

Other friends of ours were at the KKNK at Oudtshoorn and we had been in phone contact during the trip and had arranged to meet at the turn-off to The Hell. When we got there they were already waiting and off we went on the “road to hell” with Chris Rhea on vocals, his brother Diahorrea on drums and his cousin Gonorrhea on bass.

The first forty odd kilometers is quite normal by Swartberg standards and we went past Kevin’s Corner, a spot that he found with rock pools and just enough space for a braai drum on a bend where a stream comes down from the mountain. We met him and a few friends there in December on our way to Mossel Bay.

And then the fun started!!! After those forty odd kilometers the scene changed and we were in heaven. That’s what this place should be called Heaven, not Hell. The view, the vistas, the scenery and the most amazing road, down into heaven. What a sight.

The Hell

We crawled down the pass like mountain goats, stopping every few meters to take yet another photo because it just kept getting better and better every inch of the way. The sun was setting and the views were awesome. Eventually we got down into the valley and drove along until we came to the river. I had phoned the previous Monday to confirm our booking and was told that the Gamka River was in flood and they were cut off from the rest of the valley and the bedding etc. was being ferried across by canoe. The woman I spoke to was sure that it would subside by Friday, but that I should phone on Thursday to make sure. I phoned on Thursday and Zanie van der Walt said it was about knee high. When we got to the river it was virtually dark and luckily Zanie was already there loading the contents of two cars onto his Land Cruiser bakkie to get the stuff to the other side. He offered to tow me through, but it was about 600mm deep so I drove through behind him and Philip followed in his Colt double cab.

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This trip report was compiled by:
Peter Taylor
073 922 9339