Jagpoort (S1218)

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Ruin of an old farmhouse near the pass Ruin of an old farmhouse near the pass - Photo: Mike Leicester

Jagpoort is an obscure gravel road pass, situated close to the small central Free State town of Winburg. The name, which translates as “Hunting Passage”, probably stems from the hunts which would have taken place to feed the Voortrekkers as they settled in and around this area. Vast herds of game used to roam these huge open grassland plains; sadly, this is no longer the case, and wild animals in the present day are restricted to the public and private game reserves scattered around the region. The road is in a good condition, and can be driven in any vehicle, weather permitting.

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[On-car video footage supplied by Mike Leicester / Video cover photo by Wikipedia]

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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 west, 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 5.6 kms to S28.572171 E27.045773, then turn left onto the S486. Travel for 11.6 kms to S28.594404 E27.157365, which is the western starting point of the pass.

A farmhouse near the poortA perfectly sited farmhouse en route to Jagpoort / Photo: Mike LeicesterTo approach from the east, start near Winburg at the intersection of the N5 and the N1, at coordinates S28.498979 E26.998009. Travel in an easterly direction along the N5 for 9.6 kms to S28.497556 E27.093650, then turn right onto the R708. Travel in a southerly direction for 17.3 kms to S28.594543 E27.226032, then turn right onto the S1218. Travel for 4.5 kms to S28.600025 E27.181021, which is the eastern start point of the pass.

We have described the pass from east to west. At the start, the road heads due west along a straight section for 500 metres, ascending gradually. This is followed by a shallow bend to the right, and the road then straightens out again until the summit is reached at the 1.1 km mark. The descent is fairly gentle at first, then increases slightly as the road meanders its way through a very shallow S-bend, first turning right and then left, as the vegetation closes in and the road narrows a little. The road straightens out again and continues to descend until the end of the pass is reached when you cross a narrow single-lane bridge over a small stream at the 2.5 km mark.

Voortrekker monument at WinburgThe Free State Voortrekker monument near Winburg / Photo: Trekbefok When the Voortrekkers reached the area of Winburg, there were no other tribes or inhabitants. The nearest community was that of a Tswana tribe under Chief Makwana at Thaba Nchu, 60 kms south east of the town and the Basotho tribes in the mountains of the current Lesotho, 100 kms east of the town.

The trade of cattle for land between the Vaal and Vet Rivers, undertaken by Andries Pretorius and the Bataung Chief Makwana in 1836, led to the settlement of a dispute between the African tribes. The Voortrekkers offered protection for Chief Makwana from the Tswana tribes, against the Basotho tribes harbouring in the mountains of the current Lesotho and stealing the cattle of the Bataung tribe. In exchange for continued protection, the Voortrekkers were offered the land between the Vet and Vaal Rivers.

The Voortrekker leaders had a small disagreement as to where to establish a town. A vote was held under the burgers and Andries Pretorius's group won and elected to establish the town in its current position and to call it Winburg, after the Dutch word “winnen” (to win).

Winburg acted as a settlement and religious centre for the Voortrekkers. The town was originally selected as the site for the main Voortrekker Monument, but Pretoria won favour and a five-tiered secondary Voortrekker monument was built on the outskirts of Winburg instead, in the 1950s. It carries the names of the Voortrekker leaders: Piet Uys, Andries Hendrik Potgieter, Andries Pretorius, Piet Retief and Gerrit Maritz. The lengths of the five tiers are proportional to the distances travelled by the respective settler groups. On 16 December, the day on which the descendants of the Boer settlers celebrate the Battle of Blood River, the sun passes directly over the monument and a plaque with a Christian religious message at the base is illuminated perfectly by the sun. The monument is built near the site of the birth-house of Martinus Theunis Steyn, who was president of the Boer Republic of the Orange Free State.

Fact File:


S28.600025 E27.181021


S28.599378 E27.170020


S28.594404 E27.157365














2,5 km




3 minutes


60 kph


Gravel (S1218)






Winburg (20 km)

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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.

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