KwaZulu-Natal

This is a very short (927m !), but fairly steep pass just on the KZN side of the border with the Free State. It forms part of a slower, gravel alternative to the tarred (and busy) N11 between Memel and Newcastle/Volksrust. This road also offers a traverse over the much bigger Majubasnek Pass and joins the N11 just to the north of the Laings Nek Pass.

Laingsnek Pass is located on the tarred N11 route between Newcastle (42 km to the south) and Volksrust (13 km to the north) just before the KZN border. The pass has a strictly enforced speed limit of 80 kph with camera monitoring and is 8,84 km long with lovely views of both Majuba and Inkwelo mountains to the West. The pass was named after John Laing, South Africa's commissioner of crown land. (The town of Laingsburg in the Western Cape was also named after him.)

This insignificant little climb up a small hill with three slight changes in direction is an officially recognized pass on government maps, despite the fact that it does not meet any of the defined requirements of a true mountain pass. This area is, of course, rich in battlefields history and most of the hills, ridges and mountains around the town of Ladysmith have a military connotation - in this case, we have Rifleman's Ridge forming the northern part of the neck, whilst a small peak called Lancer's Peak [1202m] is the highest point of a series of hills forming the southern part of the neck.

This steep, tarred pass has the classic low-high-low profile rising 262m over 6 km producing an average gradient of 1:23, but many parts of this pass are at a stiff 1:7. The road, which has a summit altitude of 1351m ASL, connects Vryheid with the Black Umfolozi Valley. The pass is a mix of tar and gravel with all of the western ascent being tarred and most of the eastern descent, being gravel, except for three short tarred sections on the steepest sections most prone to water damage. The name Leeunek translates into Lions Neck.

Lombardskop Nek is an easy tarred traverse along the east/west axis just outside Ladysmith in KZN with a minor change in altitude of just 53m. The road routes between a series of peaks and hills which have great historical value and in this instance the peak called Lombardskop takes us back to the Battle of Lombardskop in 1899. We spend most of our research into the history of the Anglo-Boer war, rather than the technical side of this very easy drive.

This is a substantial gravel pass of 8,8 km long that connects the N11 to the north of Laings Nek pass with the R34 near Memel and runs along the SW/NE axis. The pass climbs 266m to summit at 1848m and produces an average gradient of 1:33, but there are some very steep sections at 1:5. We issue the usual KZN gravel pass cautionary of "slippery when wet" as well as the occurrence of frequent mountain mists which can become extremely dangerous when visibility is reduced.

The Middledale Pass is a 6.3 km tarred pass running through the Drakensberg on a North/South axis. It is known as the S1101 route and connects the farming areas north of Bergville with the upper plateau of the Free State around Swinburne, Van Reenen and Harrismith. Some references show the Middledale and Tintwa Passes as being the same pass, whereas they are actually two separate passes on the same road separated by a short plateau. There is a similar scenario in the Western Cape with the Wildehondskloofhoogte and Op de Tradouw Passes being the same pass, with the former being the ascent and the latter the descent.

Mike's Pass is a rough, high altitude, 4x4 pass in the Drakensberg in KZN. You will be rewarded with incredible views and mountain top fresh air to invigorate your senses. Snow in winter is common, in which case the pass will probably be closed to the public. Some sections have concrete strips.

Latest info: As at September, 2014 we have it on good authority that this pass is now only accessble in a NCS vehicle (the nature reserve's own vehicles) at a cost of R60 per person - minimum 4 persons. Trips are on offer 4 times per day - at 0900; 1200 and 1600. The controlling authority must have had good reason to have made this decision and I doubt very much it would have been based on profit. We invite them to contact us with an explanation as there appear to be many disappointed gravel pass fans who would have loved to drive this pass in their own vehicle.

This is a short, but fairly steep gravel pass between between Newcastle in the south and Volksrust in the north and provides an alternative to the tarred main road - the N11. The pass is just over 1 km long, but it climbs steeply at an average gradient of 1:14 over that distance with the steepest sections presenting at 1:10. This one will be very slippery when wet.

A straight-forward climb up the foothills of the Mpate mountain to the north-west of Dundee. This mountain played a major role in the first big battle of the Anglo-Boer war in 1899 - The Battle of Dundee or more accurately the Battle of Talana. The pass climbs steeply at a maximum gradient of 1:10 towards the summit of 1361m ASL, where it splits, with the left hand fork continuing as the R68 towards Newcastle, whereas the right hand fork (the R621) heads north to Hattingspruit and Dannhauser.

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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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