Stories in stone
The 27 km Swartberg Pass between Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert is one of the finest mountain passes in the world: a gravel ribbon that soars to 1 583 m above sea level, with heart-stopping views at every zigzag and switchback. The pass is the crowning achievement of master road engineer Thomas Bain, who was also responsible for nearby Meiringspoort and many other famous passes in South Africa. Completed in 1888, some of the handpacked stone walls are still in place. The Swartberg Pass is a national monument and much of the surrounding mountain range is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On 9 April 2017, a flash flood washed away a section of the pass on the Prince Albert side. It will take time to rebuild because the work will have to be done according to UNESCO standards to recreate the look and feel of Bain’s original. Word in the Karoo town is that the pass should be open to the public again by the end of the year. Sam Reinders is a freelance photographer and former go! picture editor. Her parents live in Prince Albert and she drives the pass regularly. These photographs span a 13-year period – a love song to the pass and the magnificent landscape it traverses.