For me, Bainskloof is synonymous with a cooler box, the smell of coconut sunscreen and a convoy of cars filled with excited kids impatient to start the day exploring the pools and rocks of Bainskloof
It is one of my favourite mountain passes, not just because it is so picturesque, but also because it awakens happy and familiar memories of my childhood. During our stay at Tweede Tol Campsite I experienced a warm feeling of dejavu as I watched all the families and friends still getting together and making those same memories. This is one place that has remained the same through many many years of change in the world….and I liked it.
Our day at the pools. Stunning video made by my daughter Katharina
The Tweede Tol campsite is situated at the original tollgate of the Bainskloof Pass. The pass was completed in 1853 by using convict labour. The 30 km pass took 5 years to complete and was only tarred in the 1930’s.
The campsite is 21 km from the town of Wellington and 27 km from Ceres. It is a slow drive through the pass; perfect to ponder on and comprehend the complexity of building the pass and to absorb the wondrous faces of the rock formations and vegetation.
Tweede Tol is part of the Limietberg Nature Reserve and all bookings must be done through Cape Nature. Through them, you can book online or go directly to the booking portal. If you prefer to book telephonically, you can call the booking line on 021-4830190.
If you have a Wild Card you won’t need to pay the conservation fee. Read all about the Wildcard and the benefits.
The main campsite consists of 20, mostly generously proportioned stands. Every site has its own braai area and most of the sites are in full shade which is a relief when it is hot. There is no electricity at Tweede Tol, which can be a problem should you rely on solar. Site 1, 2 and 3 has no shade so make sure to book one of those if you have solar panels. Site 1 is long and narrow and better suited to tents only. Sites 1 to 15 are on the Wolwekloof River, some with access to the water.
Sites 21 to 26 are privately fenced sites, each with their own bathroom, kitchen and braai area. These private sites don’t have electricity either and site 21 is also in full shade. We found most of these sites to be unsuitable for caravans or large trailers.
Check in is quick and easy. Security at the gate confirms your booking and guide you to your site.
You can also purchase wood from the security at the entrance gate.
Check in times are from 2pm – 6pm. They extend check in to 8pm on a Friday.
Check out is at 10am and they are very strict with this policy. You can still spend the day at the visitors area and pay the day rate but you have to vacate the campsite by 10am.
Tweede Tol is also a popular spot for day visitors. They allow 100 day visitors per day. The area has tables and braai areas and lots of rock pools for swimming.
Important Additional Info For Your Stay
- There is no shop on site and they don’t sell water or ice.
- They sell wood at the entrance gate.
- The water comes from a spring in the mountain and is safe to drink.
- Bring your own grid.
- Bring your water shoes for the rock hopping and swimming.
- There is no cell phone reception at Tweede Tol. If you need to get your internet fix, there is reception at the Bush Pub, 6km down the road to Ceres/Worcester.
The ablutions are close to all the campsites with a washing up area.
The ablutions and sites were not serviced daily during our stay.
Activities At Tweede Tol
Tweede Tol and the Limietberg Nature Reserve is a Hiking hub with various walks and hikes that lead one to breathtaking views, waterfalls and pools.
The hiking trails around Tweede Tol campsite are only available to the campers and not to day visitors. There are many hiking trails in the Limietberg Nature Reserve that are available to all permit holders. Permits can be obtained from CapeNature Central Reservations.
Swimming in and exploring the pools and waterfalls in the Wolwekloof River is a must, especially in summer.
Day visitors can picnic, braai and explore the clear pools in the Witte River.
Around Tweede Tol Campsite
The main attraction of the Limietberg Nature Reserve is the many walking and hiking trails. For maps of all the available hikes and walks, please follow this link.
Tweede Tol is situated close to the town of Ceres (27km away) where you can go Cherry picking at Klondyke Cherry Farm, explore the Matroosberg Nature reserve or if you feel adventurous you can join the adrenaline junkies for some ziplining in Ceres.
The towns closest to Tweede Tol are Wellington and Paarl, known for their rich history and great wine. There are historic walking tours available in the towns as well as wine tours that will take you around some of the oldest wine producing farms in South Africa.
After taking a slow drive through the pass, noticing how details fade as the sun lowers and the colours of light and dark become more vivid, we arrive at the campsite. We booked one of the private sites this time; we stayed in the main camp previously and wanted to experience the new addition to Tweede Tol.
We were greeted by the very friendly staff at the gate and given directions to our site. They even delivered wood to our site.
We did not realise that the private sites were as uneven and unsuited to trailers and caravans but, with a huff and a puff and some “motivational” words we got the trailer in position.
First on the agenda was a dip in the rock pools and it made the huffing and puffing of positioning the trailer fade in no time.
The next day we spent the day rock hopping and swimming in the pools of the Wolwekloof River. There are a number of impressive waterfalls with deep pools where the adventurous can take a daring jump. The pools are crystal clear, and if you take along a pair of goggles, you can experience the dramatic underwater beauty. Redfin minnows, which are threatened, due to a number of invasive species, can be seen here in abundance.
For birders there are a number of fynbos specials, such as the Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted sunbird. Verreaux’s eagle can often be spotted soaring on the mountain thermals.
And then there is the matter of reptilians… summertime in the Cape mountains brings out various critters; we encountered a scorpion (Cape Creeper), which is harmless. You can normally tell by the large pincers and thin tail. If on the other hand it has tiny pincers and a thick tail, it is likely to be dangerous. We also saw puff adder (twice) and a beautiful boomslang; both these species are dangerous. But remember, snakes are not out to get you, and provided you treat them with the right amount of respect, they are unlikely to cause you any harm.
As Tweede Tol is a quick drive from home we decided to book an extra day because they enforce a strict 10am check out. Having an extra day made it possible to have a day of swimming and rock hopping and a day of walking and experiencing the endless views over the valleys and the surrounding mountains.
Tweede Tol is a mountain gem and a fantabulous spot for an active and outdoorsy weekend in nature. The fynbos is pristine!
We found the private sites a bit too close to the gate, where the excited and rather boisterous day visitors gather from sparrows to ensure they get a day spot before the cut off of 100 visitors.
The campsite in general needs a bit of TLC and maintenance to bring it to the CapeNature standard.
We also noticed the absence of trained conservation staff that can answer questions and create conservation awareness amongst visitors who are not yet informed on the importance of preserving our environment and keeping it pristine as nature intended.
Will we be back? Most definitely!
Till our next adventure!