A magical place if you love to be impressed by mountains. This is also the place to go if you love geology and geography – both are interesting to me and I get lost when visiting this poort – as these mountain range is part of the Cape Fold Belt and you will observe some contorted rock strata along the route.
This is also an area rich in flora. Not only aloes are noticeable on the slopes and along the road, but you will also find some rare indigenous plant species like the Aristata protea. Go prepared with binocular and camera and something warm in winter as you might encounter snow covered mountain tops which creates a bit of a chill factor.
The original construction of the road started in 1859 with convict labour and lasted for three years. On final completion in 1862 it was also accessible for wagon traffic with a toll house strategically placed enroute. (Yes, a toll road). Construction on this road only started after Meiringspoort, cutting through the Swartberg Mountains near De Rust, was completed in 1858. Today the Seweweekspoort road still more or less still follows the same route as it was originally constructed more than 150 years ago. This is quite a remarkable accomplishment in today’s times where everything is a quick fix and do not last. I hope that it will never change significantly as it will then lose some of its charm.
From my point of view this 18 km stretch of gravel road that links Zoar with Laingsburg rates as one of the most spectacular gravel roads in South Africa. It is an easy drive with no steep gradients and mind-blowing rock formations around every corner and numerous low water bridges. Do not be in a hurry when you are here. Stop and take a lot of pictures. There are lots and lots and lots of opportunities and the other road users that you encounter are patient with you on the road as they are mostly there for the same reason – to admire the beauty around every bend. You surely will not regret all the pictures when you get home.
Where did the name originate?
There is many tales about on its name originated, but on Mountain Passes South Africa’s webpage https://www.mountainpassessouthafrica.co.za/ one of the explanation is:
“There is an array of stories as to where the poort got it’s name from, most of which are folklore. The most likely version is that it is named after the Seven Weeks Fern (Polystichum Andiantiforum), which in Afrikaans is called the Seweweeksvaring, which grows all over the poort in moist places and crevices. This is the officially accepted version.”
How do you find Seweweekspoort?
Approaching from the south you will be travelling on the famous R62 between Calitzdorp and Ladismith. At more or less S33.28.50 E21.27.34 you will find a gravel road, the R323, that is heading in a Northerly direction and will link up with the N1 eventually.
Apart from being a World Heritage the area also falls under Cape Nature thus adhere to their rules and regulations – no flower picking, etc, etc. Enjoy the silence and the beauty of the Klein-Karoo.