Die Nek (R709)

Read 850 times
Excelsior with its church at the end of the main road Excelsior with its church at the end of the main road - Photo: Mike Leicester

Whoever was naming passes in this area obviously ran out of ideas, as this pass is simply known as Die Nek (The Neck). It skirts a prominent mountain on the north-eastern side of the tiny town of Excelsior in the central Free State, and essentially consists of just one long gravel road curve from the north-east into the south-west. The road, although fairly rough in places, is in a reasonable condition, and can be driven in any vehicle except possibly in wet weather. The area has great scenic beauty if you take the time to look beyond the seemingly endless flat plains which dominate the region.

Scroll down to view the map & video. It is recommended to watch this video in HD. (Click on the "quality" button on the lower taskbar of the video screen and select 720HD.) Wait a few seconds for the video to display.....

 

 

[On-car video footage supplied by Mike Leicester]

FULL-SCREEN MODE: Click PLAY, then pass your mouse over the bottom right corner of the video screen. The outline of a square will appear. Clicking on it will toggle Full Screen Mode. Press ESC to return to the original format.

Note: Google Earth software reads the actual topography and ignores roads, cuttings, tunnels, bridges and excavations. The Google Earth vertical-profile animation generates a number of parallax errors, so the profile is only a general guide of what to expect in terms of gradients, distance and elevation. The graph may present some impossible and improbably sharp spikes, which should be ignored. 

Digging into the details:

Getting there: : To approach from the south, travel along the R703 in a south-easterly direction from the N1 to S28.934882 E27.078045, which is the southern start point of the pass. To approach from the north, start near Winburg at the intersection of the R709 and Fred Osborn Road, at coordinates S28.534985 E27.012575. Travel in a southerly direction along the R709 for 18.5 kms to S28.679256 E27.068503, which is the point at which the road changes from a tar to a gravel surface. Continue along the R709 for 19.7 kms to S28.845505 E27.122063, then turn right. The intersection is signboarded as “Excelsior 13”. Travel for 9.8 kms to S28.921393 E27.091867, which is the northern start point of the pass.

Scenery en route to the passScenery en-route to the pass / Photo: Mike LeicesterWe have filmed and described the pass from north to south. At the start, the road heads almost due south, and ascends gradually as you approach the summit directly in front of you. The road is wide but badly corrugated with loose surface gravel, although soft sand will not be an issue. As you crest the hill at the 900 metre mark, a wide vista opens up before you, and the town of Excelsior is visible in the distance diagonally to your right. The descent begins and the road continues to curve to the right, taking you into a south-westerly heading, followed by a long straight section of 1 kilometre lined by trees on either side. The road continues to descend until the end of the pass is reached at the intersection of the R709 and the R703.

Excelsior is a small farming town in the Free State province of South Africa. It was founded by the farmers in the area in 1910, who wanted a town which was closer to them than Winburg and Ladybrand.

Looking south towards Die NekLooking south at the start / Photo: Mike LeicesterThey needed to decide on which of two farms the town would be established, the farms being Sunshine and Excelsior (Latin), which translated to English means "Higher Up", or in Afrikaans "Hoër Op". The farm Excelsior was chosen due to its elevated location. The first church was erected in the vicinity of where the Farmers Co-op is situated today.

Excelsior achieved a certain notoriety in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when nineteen people were charged for contravening the Immorality Act under Apartheid Legislation (also known as the Excelsior 19). A better understanding of what happened between white males and black females can be read in the book The Madonna of Excelsior by South African-born author, Zakes Mda.

[Research and text write-up courtesy of Mike Leicester]


Fact File:

GPS START 

S28.921393 E27.091867

GPS SUMMIT

S28.929012 E27.088932

GPS END 

S28.934882 E27.078045

AVE GRADIENT

1:52

MAX GRADIENT

1:14

ELEVATION START

1491m

ELEVATION SUMMIT

1519m

ELEVATION END

1477m

HEIGHT GAIN/LOSS

42m

DISTANCE

2,2 km

DIRECTION - TRAVEL

South

TIME REQUIRED

2 minutes

SPEED LIMIT

60 kph

SURFACE

Gravel (R709)

DATE FILMED

27.02.2016

TEMPERATURE

26C

NEAREST TOWN

Excelsior (4 km)


Route Map:

Use these powerful features to get the best use out of the map:

  • Choose either Map View or Satellite View (overlaid on the map detail.)
  • Zoom in and out; rotate in any direction.
  • Use the Get Route'feature (directly beneath the map): type in your address to get a personalised route straight from where you are to the pass, with time and distance included.
  • Detailed written and printable directions.
  • Drag the 'little orange man' icon onto the pass for a complete 360° tiltable "street view".

From Address:


Route files:

Register and get access to route files. Simply download to your PC/Laptop/Mobile device and transfer the file directly to your GPS for 100% accurate navigation from start to end. This is a free service to registered users.

Please Register or Log in to access these files.

Route files are only available to Registered users. When you register you will also be subscribed to our News Updates.

  

Mountain Passes South Africa

Our website is dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.

Passes are classified according to provinces and feature a text description, Fact File including GPS data, a fully interactive dual-view map and a narrated YouTube video.

Subscribe to our Site

We offer a totally free subscription. You will receive an email notification every time a new pass has been uploaded. You will also get access to registered content on our site.

Register

MPSA Tour Discount

Receive the following discount on any of the Mountain Passes Tours: R100

Use Coupon Code: mpsa4xh3za

More information

Route File

On a pass-page, scroll down to below the Route Map, to download the Route File. Available only to Registered Users.

 

Mountain Passes South Africa

Mountain Passes South Africa is a website dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.
 

Passes are classified according to provinces and feature a text description, Fact File including GPS data, a fully interactive dual-view map and a narrated YouTube video.
 

Master Orientation Map

Master Orientation Map We are as passionate about maps as we are about mountain passes. A good map is a thing of beauty that can transport you into the mists of time or get your sense of adventure churning. It is a place to make discoveries about deserts and seas, mountains and lakes; of roads leading into places you have not been before; a place to pore over holiday destinations or weekend camping trips. A map is your window to the world.

View Master Orientation Map...