If you’ve been googling ‘safari near Cape Town’ or ‘best game reserve in the Western Cape’, hopefully Sanbona Wildlife Reserve has piqued your interest. Nestled between the two quaint towns of Montagu and Barrydale, Sanbona is a three-hour drive from Cape Town – and what a picturesque drive it is! Follow the N1 out of the city into winelands country, travel though the engineering masterpiece that is the Huguenot Tunnel, and marvel at the breathtaking Cape Fold Mountains and endless wide-open landscapes.
OLD DOES NOT MEAN FORGOTTEN…
While most travelers know the ‘new’ modern tunnel, many will still remember travelling over the old Du Toit’s Kloof Pass through the much shorter tunnel.
The history of Du Toit’s Kloof Pass goes back as far as the 1800’s but construction of the Pass only began in 1941. Built by a group of enthusiastic and creative Italian Prisoners of War who were sent to South Africa during the second World War, the Pass was finally completed in 1948.
THE HUGUENOT TUNNEL
An engineering achievement of note!
As the Pass became overburdened with traffic, an alternative route had to be found. Geological surveys and design work took place in 1973 with excavation on the new Huguenot Tunnel beginning in 1984.
Construction consisted of two phases, each beginning on either side of the mountain. Half a million cubic meters of rock was excavated as both excavation teams worked towards the center using a drill and blast method. In 1987 the two excavation teams reached each other in the centre of the mountain with a difference of only 3mm over its entire 4km length!
“The tunnel offers a two-lane carriageway over its entire 3913 metres and leading up to the Huguenot Tunnel from its south side, is an awe-inspiringly beautiful, high-altitude viaduct bridge (the first of its kind to be built in South Africa). The bridge is simultaneously curved and cambered, constructed by the incremental method and soars high above the farm-patchworked Miaspoort Valley.” [edited from South African History Online]
Now 11 kilometres shorter than the old Du Toit’s Kloof Pass, the Huguenot Tunnel extends through the Du Toit’s Kloof mountains and offers travellers quicker access to the R62 and Sanbona Wildlife Reserve.
32 YEARS LATER
The Huguenot Tunnel opened on 18 March 1988 and its safety features now include: 24 hour air conditioning and extraction to reduce emissions and improve air quality; 24 hour illumination helping drivers adjust from the bright exterior light to the relative darkness of the tunnel; 34 cameras feeding into an automated incident management system which also includes trigger alarms for broken down vehicles, vehicles driving too fast or too slow, traffic queues and drivers travelling the wrong way. The tunnel is permanently staffed, and has a fire escape tunnel acting as an emergency and evacuation area to the outside. This tunnel – or North Bore – also allows fire brigades to access any fires from relative safety.
Now in its 32nd year, and in order to comply with international safety standards, upgrades to the electrical and mechanical systems of the Huguenot Tunnel are necessary so please expect delays if travelling at night. Currently all maintenance is being done under live traffic conditions behind the scenes and has little or no interruption to road users however, OFF-PEAK MAINTENANCE closures for the works not possible under live traffic conditions are scheduled to commence mid-to late January 2020. These will last for approximately four months so the tunnel will be closed to traffic at night from 22h00 to 06h00, Monday to Thursday when traffic volumes through the tunnel are at their lowest.
The tunnel will still be fully operational on weekdays, Monday to Thursday from 06h00 until 22h00 as well as for 24 hours per day on weekends [Friday to Sunday]. The old Du Toit’s Kloof Pass on the R101 will act as the primary alternate route during weekday night-time closures.
ROAD MAINTENANCE ON-ROUTE TO YOUR SAFARI VACATION
In addition, the STOP-AND-GO-SYSTEMS on your way to Sanbona are operating with an average delay of 15 minutes in the Cogmanskloof area.
While some may say a three-hour journey to a game reserve near Cape Town is long, it is no ordinary journey. So pack a few snacks and essentials for the car and head out for a road trip of a lifetime!
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is made up of 58 000 hectares of The Little Karoo. To find out more or to make a booking, chat to our Reservations team or check out our website. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for regular updates.
SANBONA WILDLIFE RESERVE
[E] [email protected] | [T] +27 (0)21 010 0028 | www.sanbona.com