Driving Die Hel, South Africa's Road To Hell

Die Hel is a valley located in the Western Cape Province, on the southwestern coast of South Africa. The road to Die Hel is rather dangerous.

Die Hel

Where is Die Hel in South Africa?

The road is totally unpaved. It’s 37km (23 miles) long, running deep into the semi-desert region of Klein Karoo through Die Hel, an isolated valley in the Swartberg Mountains, between Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert.

Why is it called Die Hel?

Nobody knows for sure where the 'Die Hel' name came from. One popular story is that 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 refer to themselves as 'Kloovers.'

Is Die Hel in South Africa dangerous?

The rather dangerous road runs from the top of the Swartberg Pass to the bottom of Die Hel (otherwise known as Gamka's Kloof and Gamkaskloof). 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. Drive carefully as overtaking is virtually impossible in some places. Make sure you’re well supplied before you travel: there is no shop, petrol station, hospital, or cellphone signal.

Do you need a 4x4 for Die Hel?

The road is narrow and bumpy. Attempting it in anything but a 4x4 vehicle with high ground clearance is a recipe for disaster. A spare wheel is recommended.

When was the Die Hel road in South Africa built?

Hidden deep within the Gamkaskloof (Die Hel) Nature Reserve, 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