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Baviaanskloof and Thomas Bain

Baviaansklooof
Baviaanskloof
Baviaanskloof
Baviaanskloof
Baviaanskloof
Baviaanskloof

The road through the Baviaanskloof rises and descends very steeply in places, continuing on fairly level ground elsewhere. In fact, the road which stretches for over 140 km through the Baviaanskloof, encompasses a number of passes: the Combrinks, Holgat, Grasnek and Nuwekloos mountain pass. These were the last of the many Thomas Bain constructed, between 1880 and 1890, the last being the Swartberg Pass. It is the longest of the 24 roads he built. He died in 1893. The road has concrete causeways in places to keep the road in place during flash floods. In other places it just follows the riverbed. Therefore, during the rainy season, the road may be closed.

Thomas Bain, the famous Scottish pioneer and genius road engineer of Queen Victoria, also took an interest in plants and had a keen eye for rock-art. He collected many plant specimens. Among them he discovered four new Stapelias, a genus with spineless, mostly upright, succulent stems. The flowers, as many other asclepiad genera, smell rather bad, and use flies as pollinators. This genus has large star-shaped flowers that can exceed 8 inches in diameter (20 cm). The color varies from red to brown, often marbled, probably trying to deceive the flies with the look as well as the smell. All or part of the flowers are hairy. He was duly credited for his contributions to the field, the Hoodia bainii being named after him.

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