Meiringspoort is a South African mountain pass on the N12 national road, where it crosses the Swartberg mountain range.
The pass is a gateway that connects the Little Karoo and the Great Karoo, through a gorge with a 25km road crossing the same river 25 times in the span of the 25 km.
The exquisite beauty of the Klein Karoo is ideally represented by the small town of De Rust, nestled among the Swartberg Mountains. This town is actually considered to be the gateway between the Klein Karoo and the Groot Karoo in South Africa. It is within about an hour’s drive from both George (around 60 kilometres away) and Oudtshoorn (just over 40 kilometres away).
The Meiringspoort Waterfall is one of De Rust’s most beautiful attractions; not only for its breath-taking beauty, but also because it is free of charge and a favourite for young and old alike. It is situated on the Meiringspoort Pass, and is officially called the Great Waterfall, but got its better-known name from its locale.
When the great rains of 1996 flooded the region, the road collapsed and formed a little pool. Today, a picnic area has been added, and is perfectly placed with the pool and waterfall as its gorgeous backdrop. The pool is safe for swimming and deep enough for some diving. It has been an inviting retreat for visitors and hikers that are enjoying the beauty of the Klein Karoo. There is an urban myth about a mermaid that once occupied the waters, but was washed out by the floods or caught in a fisherman’s net. However unbelievable, it continues to be passed down from one generation of Meiringspoort visitors to the next.
The road of the pass is an impressive feat in itself. It had to be rebuilt after the floods and has been open since 2000. It is flanked by exquisite mountains, vegetation and scenic views. The fauna around here is varied and abundant with hundreds of bird species to delight observant bird watchers.
The Meiringspoort Waterfall, its thundering waters and the glorious rainbows that it forms, are all part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.