Du Toits Kloof Pass (Old Road), R101

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Du Toits Kloof (Old Road) Du Toits Kloof (Old Road) - Photo: Lisa Roberts

The old Du Toits Kloof Pass (officially designated as the R101) is 11km longer than the newer N1 route, and is certainly worth choosing over the new route if you're not in a hurry! Its grand, dramatic mountain views and elegantly constructed, tunnel whisks one back in time to an older, almost forgotten era -- when World War 2 impactfully changed the world with its bombs, genocide and bittersweet victories.  

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Digging into the details:

Getting there: To approach this pass from the northern side, head towards Cape Town from Worcester on the N1 highway on the new Du Toits Kloof Pass. Just before the weighbridge station and the tunnel, take the exit ramp marked R101/Paarl, which marks the official northern starting point of the old pass. All of the north-eastern section has disappeared under the new N1 route and only this last 20 km section remains as a publicly accessible road. For those wanting to drive the old pass from the southern side - head north from cape Town past Paarl on the N1 and just before the toll pay point, take the left hand exit and turn left for 60m and immediately right which is the southern starting point.

The first labourers to work on the pass, Italian POWs, were released from their years of toil in 1945. Three years later, the road was completed by fairly employed and paid local labour. Take the time to drive this pass, so rich in history and rugged beauty!

The pass was named after a local French Huguenot farmer, Francois du Toit, who owned the Kleinbosch farm, nestled in the Daljosephat Valley. (The Huguenot refugees fled France for Cape Town in the 17th Century after the the Edict of Nantes was revoked, thereby granting religious toleration of Protestants.)

The old Du Toits Kloof Pass circa 1950It was a masterpiece in its day - the old pass circa 1950 / Photo: ArchivesAn extraordinary bond of friendship developed between the townsfolk of Paarl and the Italian POWs during the construction phase of the old pass. The Italians were naturally creative and road building seemed to have been an inherent passion for them. They set about their task with trademark Italian enthusiasm and produced a wonderfully engineered road which has proudly stood the test of time. To celebrate the end of the war, and exemplifying their unshakeable faith, they erected a large aluminium cross -- and, in a monumental example of human endurance, carted the cross's components all the way to the very top of the highest peak, known as the Huguenot Top, where it was finally assembled and erected where it still stands testimony to this day, like a faithful old guard, over the vineyard-quilted lands of the Boland.

From its departure point, just before the weigh-bridge station ahead of the Northern entrance of the Huguenot Tunnel on the N1, its 20.8 km stretch rejoins the N1 just outside Paarl, adjacent to the toll-booth pay-point. Baboons and slow trucks arrive out of the blue, so drive carefully!

Du Toits Kloof Collage / Cav. Andre MartinagliaInformation and some photographs on this page are courtesy of Cav.Andre MartinagliaLying at the foot of the pass is the Boland town of Paarl, which in Afrikaans is derived from Parel, meaning Pearl in Dutch. It is the third oldest town and European settlement in South Africa (after Cape Town and Stellenbosch) and is the largest town in the Cape Winelands. Due to the growth of the Mbekweni township, it is now a de facto urban unit with Wellington. and is renowned for its haunting scenic beauty and deep viticulture and fruit growing heritage.

Paarl is the seat of the Drakenstein Local Municipality; although not part of the Cape Town metropolitan area, it falls within its economic catchment. Paarl is unusual in South Africa in that the name of the place is pronounced differently in English and Afrikaans. An unusual feature of the name of the town is that Afrikaners customarily attach the definite article to it: people say "In die Perel (in the Paarl), rather than in Paarl.

Paarl gained international attention when, on 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela walked out of Victor Verster Correctional Centre (now known as Drakenstein Correctional Centre) in Paarl ending 27 years of imprisonment and beginning the march to South Africa's post-apartheid era and multi-racial elections. Mandela spent three years in prison here living in a private house within the walls. Today, a bronze statue of Mandela stands outside the prison.

Du Toitskloof CollageDu Toitskloof Collage by Lisa RobertsThe district is particularly well known for its Pearl Mountain or "Paarl Rock". This huge granite rock is formed by three rounded outcrops that make up Paarl Mountain and has been compared in majesty to Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) in Australia. (However, they are not geologically similar. Paarl Rock consists of intrusive igneous rock, while Uluru is a sedimentary remnant).

The well known Taal Monument (Language Monument) is located on the southern slopes of Paarlberg and is well worth a visit, whether you speak Afrikaans or not. A short, modern tarred pass, called the Taal Monument Pass, provides quick and convenient access to the grounds and a lovely mountain road, which is gravel, known as the Jan Phillips Mountain Road, takes one from the Taal Monument northwards to the Paarl Nature Reserve, which encompasses three large dams and most of the top of Paarlberg. There are picnic areas, hiking and mountain routes as well as fresh water angling (permit required).

Fact File:


S33.732558 E19.127324


S33.696748 E19.074572


S33.739942 E19.016097


















15 minutes


60 - 80 kph


Tar (R101)






Paarl (10km)

Route Map:

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Route files:

||Click to download: Du Toits Kloof Pass R101 (Note - This is a .kmz file which can be opened in Google Earth and most GPS software systems)

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