Barkly Pass is a tarred road , but is still not to be underestimated as it can be extremely slippery in wet or icy weather. The sandstone buttresses and rock formations are magnificent. The area was originally inhabited by San Bushmen hunter-gatherers and is therefore home to many fine examples of well preserved rock and cave paintings. Barkly East is well known for its sheep farming and for producing some of the best wool and most tender lamb in South Africa. A lesser known 'claim to fame' is that Barkly East has recorded snowfall during every calendar month, although not in the same year. The R58 from Barkly East towards Elliot funnels down a long river valley which gets narrower and narrower before the road takes a left turn up a side kloof and tops out onto the foothills of the Berg, heading strategically towards the lowest point between two mountains. This scenic route dodges down another winding river valley, then bursts through a cutting into sloping foothills, seeking a way down from the high plateau.
Just south of the Mountain Shadows Hotel is the 13-kilometre Barkly Pass, 1990 metres at its summit. Watch out for Skilpad Rock, an outcrop shaped like a tortoise, near the top of the pass. As you descend and round a bend, the aptly named Castle Rock formation fills your windscreen in a magnificent display of mountain splendor – its natural citadel of sandstone glows warmly in the evening light. In the valley below is Elliot, a small, country town serving the local farming community.
Barkly Pass is a modern, well-cambered road with passing lanes on the steeper sections. However, there are no picnic spots provided and unfortunately there are few places where it is safe to pull over and enjoy the magnificent mountain scenery. It takes just 15 minutes to drive from the top to Elliot.