This is an interesting gravel pass of moderate length with some sharp corners and steep gradients. It conencts Candover in the north with Magudu in the south-west. The pass also functions to serve numerous farms in this mountainous region of KZN. The road is suitable for all vehicles, but things can get decidedly slippery here in wet weather. Adjust your speed accordingly.
This short, steep (4x4 only) pass lies in the far North Eastern corner of KZN, close to the Swaziland border. This is another cross-border pass with the low altitude end being in Swaziland and the summit being in KZN's Elephant Coast on the ridge of the Lebombo Mountains. Another technical pass close by to this one and just a few kilometers further North is the Ceceil Mack's Pass. The pass rises up through thick forest and bush to provide excellent summit views over the Pongolapoort Dam to the South West. The dam is true Tiger fishing country. South Africa's top Tiger fishing competitions are held here each year.
This is a serious off-road jeep track over the Drakensberg starting in KZN and ending just over the border in the Free State. It lies on private land and permission has to be obtained from the landowners to complete the route. The pass is 4,91 km long and climbs 465m producing an average gradient of 1:10,55 with the steepest parts being at 1:3,2! This one is not for sissies!
The Sandspruit Pass is a rough, gravel road pass in the area to the North East of the tiny settlement of Geluksburg in KZN. This is strictly a 4x4 route route - and you will need low range and good clearance as well. Some sections along the top of the mountain are badly rutted and will probably result in a recovery if the weather is wet (even in a 4x4). The pass has historical value as it was once a route used by the legendary Piet Retief.
Sani Pass is the mother of all South African mountain passes. Statistically and in every sense, it out distances, out climbs, and out performs all it's competitors with consummate ease to have become the most iconic gravel pass in SA.
Situated between KZN and Lesotho the pass was built circa 1950 and remains a challenging drive in 4x4 vehicles with all the drama, scenery, bad weather and treacherous conditions expected of a pass with a summit altitude of 2876m ASL. That equates to 9400 feet and at 10,000 feet aircraft need pressurised cabins!
This is high altitude stuff. Go prepared for bad weather at any time and expect snowfalls as late as October.
Scheepersnek is a minor climb over a smallish hill with two tiny changes in direction and an altitude gain of only 64m. It is located 15 km south-west of Vryheid on the tarred R33 route. If you did not make a note of precisely where it is, this little "pass" would probably go by unnoticed. What it lacks in physical presence, it counters with some interesting battlefields history, as this is where the Battle of Scheepersnek took place on the 20th May, 1900.
A substantial pass of 7,3 km located to the west of Umzimkulu in KZN. It's a mix of gravel and tar, with the major portion being tar. The pass descends a total of 238 vertical metres producing an average gradient of 1:26, but there is one steep section at 1:6 just after the summit on the eastern side. It also has many sharp corners and a speed limit of 60 kph is best adhered to. This is a high altitude traverse and is subject to mountain mists in summer and snow during winter.
A short, steep gravel pass off the R34, designated at the P279, about 15 km north of Newcastle. With a maximum gradient of 1:6 things will get slippery here in heavy rain or snow, but the pass is fairly short at just 1,7 km. After summiting the pass at 1417m ASL, keep left at the fork and continue for 2,5 km to the historical battle site of Schuinshoogte.
Smith's Nek is a smallish climb through a natural gap between two hills just to the east of Dundee in KZN. Statistically there's not much to this little pass as it is only 2,37 km long and only clinbs 45 vertical metres, producing a gentle average gradient of just 1:53 with the steepest parts being at 1:14. The real punch from Smith's Nek comes in the form of its battefields history as the hills through which the road pass were part of the Battle of Talana in 1899 - one of the first major battles between the British and the Boers.
The Sondagsrivier (Sundays River) Pass is a long gravel pass of 14 km with two summit points followed by a big descent on the eastern side, offering grand views of the Chelmsford Nature Reserve and Ntshingwayo Dam. There are some very sharp corners (including one hairpin bend) and steep gradients on this pass, which might well cause traction issues for non 4WD vehicles in very wet conditions. This pass gives access to Brandons Pass, Rogers Pass and Keays Pass (all of which are 4x4 only passes) as well as the Normandien Pass.
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.
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.