Die Hel

Driving Die Hel, South Africa's Road To Hell

Die Hel (otherwise known as Gamka's Kloof and Gamkaskloof) is a valley located in the Western Cape Province, on the south-western coast of South Africa. Nobody is sure where the 'Die Hel' name came from. One popular story is that a Piet Botha (an animal inspector) visited the valley in the 1940s and used a particularly difficult route known as the 'die leer' into the valley. He described the experience as "hell". The residents have never liked the name and prefer to referrer to themselves as 'Kloovers'.

Where is Die Hel in South Africa?

Tucked away in the Swartberg Mountains, the road is totally unpaved. It’s 37km (23 miles) long running deep into the semi desert region of Klein Karoo through the Die Hel, an isolated valley in the Swartberg Mountains between Oudtshoorn and Prince Alber. It’s a narrow and bumpy drive.

Is Die Hel in South Africa dangerous?

The road runs from the top of the Swartberg Pass to the bottom of Gamkaskloof (Die Hel). The road is rather dangerous and is cut-off during the rainy season when the Gamka River comes down in flood. This is truly a long and winding road with 201 bends. The expected driving time is about 2 hours. Make sure you’re well supplied before you travel: there is no shop, petrol station, hospital or cellphone signal.

When was the Die Hel road in South Africa built?

Hidden deep within the Gamkaskloof (Die Hel) Nature Reserve, a 4x4 vehicle with high ground clearance is essential to hit this road. A spare wheel is recommended. This beautiful, secluded valley, roughly 20km long and less than 1 km wide was inaccessible by road until 1962. The work started in March 1960 and was completed in August 1962. Its many streams and fertile soil once supported a community who lived there for more than 100 years in isolation. It is shrouded in romantic notions of mythical communities lost in hidden mountain valleys. Relic farms and several restored cottages remain to stimulate the romance.
Pic: jc3Dcx

 

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