Despite its declining fortunes as a town, Touws River is situated in a beautiful part of the Great Karoo and there are many opportunities for exploration off the beaten track. The loop road to Montagu in the Klein Karoo presents a fantastic opportunity to experience the full diversity of the extreme western edge of the Great and Klein Karoo.
From Touws River follow the N1 highway towards De Doorns and the Hex River valley for 21-kilometres. At this point the R318 branch road to Montagu to the south follows a spectacular course across the high plateau of the Great Karoo descending to the Klein Karoo through two spectacular mountain passes.
the Waboomsberge linking Touws River and Montagu
As one branches off the N1 highway onto the R318 the bulk of the 2,249-metre Matroosberg or Sailor’s Mountain stands proud above the rim of the escarpment and the Hex River valley. The road winds across the undulating hills and valleys of the high escarpment before descending by way of the Rooihoogte or Red Heights Mountain pass into the Koo valley.
The Koo valley is sandwiched between the high peaks of the Langeberg or Long Mountains and the Waboomsberge that provide a barrier between the lush farmlands of the Cape Winelands and the arid sweep of the Great Karoo. The Koo valley is thickly planted with fruit tree orchards and a well-known brand of tinned fruit in South Africa takes its name from this beautiful valley.
The R318 traverses the full length of the Koo valley before finding its way through a narrow defile and descending once more into a narrow cultivated valley surrounded on all sides by high mountain slopes.
The road descends into this valley by way of the Burgers Mountain Pass, and as the road winds down the side of the mountain the views down the length of the narrow valley are spectacular.
The road continues along the floor of the valley and enters the town of Montagu situated in the shadow of the Langeberg Mountains. There are many places in Montagu to enjoy a leisurely lunch before journeying back to Touws River.
Just south of Montagu a turnoff to the left as one travels towards Barrydale, leads onto a gravel road that traverses the arid hills and mountains of the western Klein Karoo by way of the Langkloof or Long Gorge and the Ouberg or Old Mountain pass. At the summit of the Ouberg Pass a junction is reached leading east to Ladismith and north to Touws River.
The gravel road option linking Touws River and Montagu via the Ouberg Pass is seldom travelled and the traveller will get a taste of the solitude and peaceful ambience of the Karoo by driving this road linking these two Karoo towns.
Just nine kilometres west of Touws River, the R46 to Ceres branches off the N1 and finds a way between the eastern end of the Hex River Mountains and the Bontberg by way of Die Venster or the Window Mountain Pass to the eastern end of the Warmbokkeveld or Warm Antelope Fields.
The R46 branches west into the Warmbokkeveld over the Theronsberg Mountain Pass towards Ceres.
The gravel R355 branches east off the R46, descending by way of Karoo Poort or Karoo Gorge into the wide open spaces of the Tankwa Karoo.