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Old Wagon Trail, Gantoupas

22 May All day

22 or 29 May 2021 depending on the weather

Leader: Esmè Jordaan
Grading/time: 2.5, 12.5km, 4.5 hours
Starting point: Old Knorhoek Manor, Sir Lowry’s pass road
Contact details: 082 789 0689 or esmerjdn@gmail.com


Gantouw in the Khoi language means eland and historically these large animals crossed the Hottentots Holland mountains at this narrow and steep pass. The Khoi and San people followed the eland and, after European settlement at the Cape, the pass became an important gateway to the Overberg for transport wagons hauled by teams of 24 oxen.

Gantouw Pass is remarkable for the preservation of the ruts in the sandstone gouged by the ox-wagons´ locked, rear wheels as they were dragged over the precipitous pass. Wagon traffic peaked at about 4 500 wagons per annum by 1821, with a 20% rate of attrition. The first recorded crossing is dated 1664. The new pass, Sir Lowry´s Pass, was completed in 1830 and Gantouw Pass was declared a National Monument in 1958.

Before the European settlers began using the pass, it was a migration route used by eland, Africa´s largest antelope, and the indigenous people. These Khoi people came to be known as ¨Gantauwers¨, people of the eland. The change in spelling intrigues me: the Dutch would have spelt it as ¨Gantaauwers¨, so ¨Gantauwers¨ seems to be a corruption from which the name Gantouw is derived. The latter change in spelling probably stems from the ¨Afrikanerisation¨ of Dutch place names that took place in the mid-20th century when Blaauwberg became Blouberg, and Gantaauw or Gantauw became Gantouw. Anyway, I am not a linguist, so take my conclusions with a pinch of salt. Perhaps an Afrikaans-Nederlands academic can set the record straight in the comments below.


22 May 2021
Event Category:


Esme Jordaan

The club uses a grading system (given in brackets after the hike name) to make it easier for club members to communicate the difficultly of an outing. You can check out our Meets Grading page for details on how to use the grading system, or alternatively you can contact the meet leader directly if you are unsure of the difficulty of a meet.