Africa trips

Die Hel - December 08 - Pieter Pretorius

Overlanding Trips

Die Hel (The Hell) is one of those places you hear of and always wonders what it is like there.

You picture the road to The Hell as hell itself and you think it that it must be blazing hot down there. Why would they call it hell anyway.

We decided to investigate.

There are many roads which leads to hell. We decided to take the winding narrow road. We hardly ever take the established well known routes when going somewhere. The back roads and unknown roads are much more fun and you see more.

To get to the hell you first you have to get to Calitzdorp. Calitzdorp is known as the port capital of South Africa and some people claim the the port produced here is of the best in the world. Apparently the well drained soil and warm climate is similar to those in Douro Valley in Portugal where port originated from.

In Caliztdorp's main street you will find "Rose of the Karoo" restaurant which serves some of the best food in the Karoo.

Although the main street of Calitzdorp does not look very attractive you will find beautiful architecture in the streets just behind the main street especially to the south of the main street.

If you entered Calitzdorp from Cape Town's side, you have to turn left just before the grave yard (which is also on your left hand side). If you entered Calitzdorp from Oudshoorn's side the graveyard will be on your right and you must turn right just after the graveyard. I think the street is called Calitz Street.

This becomes the gravel road which will pass the Calitzdorp Dam and several other places until it takes you to the Swartberg Pass. I suggest you look for a place to stay on this road as the scenery is so beautiful that it takes you ages to cover this dirt road. You will not be able to drive to hell and back on one day from Calitzdorp.

The Calizdorp Dam

Die Hel
The narrow winding road

We stayed on a friend's farm at Smitsriver Valley which is about 20Km outside of Calitzdorp. If you look on Google Earth it is about just on the other side of the mountain from where "The Hell" is. The current Google photographs for this area is very poor quality.



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This trip report was compiled by:
Pieter Pretorius from Langebaan