Limpopo

The Pelangwe Pass is an obscure, but extremely well engineered, tar pass situated near Ga-Nkoana in the centre of the Limpopo province. To get to the pass from the south involves some complicated routing through a densely populated rural area, so travel is slow and you will need to be extra vigilant, because of traffic, pedestrians and livestock. The approach from the north is on a gravel road which is poorly maintained, but a 4x4 is not required. The landscape surrounding the pass is very unusual, with the predominant colour of the rocks and ground being white. The pass and the small town at the northern end are named after the Pelangwe Mountain, which is in the immediate vicinity.

Rankins Pass lies in the heart of the Waterberg Conservancy and is rich in game reserves. It lies approximately 180 km North of Pretoria. The road links Thabazimbi in the West with Modimolle (previously Nylstroom) in the south east. The small settlement of Alma lies near the start of the pass. Rankins Pass is not actually a true mountain pass but more of an outpost or toll point as there is no sign of any proper climbing or bends. It is nothing more than a small police station close to the Rhenosterfontein farm. This "pass" will make our unusual and bizarre stats page in that it is the only official pass in South Africa, that is not actually a pass. We have decided to include it on our website for sake of clarification.

With a height gain/loss of just 14 metres, Sandrivierspoort is one of the flattest passes in our database. Located near Thabazimbi, in the north-western region of the Limpopo province, the poort is situated in a wide valley at the confluence of the Sondagsrivier and the Sandrivier. Once referred to as a “remote and pestilent corner of Africa”, the region went through a boom period after the disappearance of the Tsetse and the discovery of iron ore deposits. This gravel poort is just 3.8 kilometres long, and can be driven in any vehicle, weather dependent.

This magnificent poort should not be confused with the minor gravel road poort of the same name which is situated near Thabazimbi. The name is in fact technically incorrect, as the river which flows past the southern end of the poort is the Klein-Sandrivier. This is one of the five famous poorts and passes which allowed early explorers and settlers passage to the Limpopo Plateau, the others being Bakker’s Pass to the west and Tarentaalstraat, Bokpoort and Kloof Pass to the east. The much-photographed escarpment made up by the hills and mountains known as the “Seven Sisters” is clearly visible to the front and left as you approach from the southern side.

Sefateng Sa Mokgoba, which means “Place of Mokgoba” or more literally “Tree of Mokgoba”, is a long gravel road poort near Marken on the Limpopo plateau. It is one of the very few official passes in South Africa which does not have an English or an Afrikaans name. The pass bisects the eastern part of the Masebe Nature Reserve in a north-south direction, but access is not restricted as this is a public thoroughfare. The road is in a reasonable condition, but is plagued by washboard corrugations, soft sand sections and a loose surface, which would make this a nightmare for adventure motorcyclists.

The village situated near this pass is called Skrikfontein (“Fright Fountain”), so it is quite possible that the name of the pass has been misspelt, and should be in fact be “Skrikfontein Se Nek”, but all official sources use the given name. “Strik” translates as “snare”, and given the high wildlife population in the area, this could just as easily be correct. The road, which bisects the Masebe Nature Reserve, is in a fairly good condition, but there are one or two sections near the summit which have been heavily eroded, therefore necessitating the use of a high clearance vehicle.

Legend has it that the name of this pass, which translates as “Guinea Fowl Street”, is not derived from these wild birds, which are plentiful in the area, but from the nickname of the fellow that first pioneered this route, who apparently had a rather unfortunate spotty complexion. Although not particularly steep or difficult, it is extraordinarily beautiful because of the stream which tracks the length of the pass, the lush vegetation, and the multitude of animals that are usually encountered along the road, such as baboons, warthogs, klipspringers, bushbuck, and other small antelope. The road is gravel and in a fairly good condition but there are a few difficult sections, so ideally it should be driven in a high clearance vehicle.

This gravel road pass runs on the North/South axis through the Soutpansberg Mountains about 40 km. due West of Louis Trichardt. The pass is an out and back route starting at the R523 in the vicinty of Waterpoort and is exceptionally scenic as it approximates the course of the gorge cut by the Sand Rivier. This is strictly an off road pass and not suitable for non 4x4 vehicles.

Please read the footnote at the bottom of this page regarding access as at November, 2014 


Vlieepoort, also commonly referred to as Vliegepoort, is located in the Crocodile River valley to the west of Thabazimbi. The Crocodile River originates in the Witwatersrand area and flows in a northerly direction, via the Hartbeespoort Dam, until it joins up with the Marico River on the Botswana border. Here it forms the Limpopo, which was popularized by Rudyard Kipling as “the great grey-green greasy Limpopo River” in his short story The Elephant’s Child. Like most other poorts, Vlieepoort is fairly flat and has a height gain of just 42 metres, but it is much longer than the national average at over 12 kms. The road surface is gravel, but it is generally in a good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, weather dependant.

Passing through the Soutpansberg, Wyllie's Poort (part of the N1 between Louis Trichardt - Makhado and Musina) boasts a rich archeaological, geological and cultural heritage, and is also a bird-watching hotspot! It lays claim to being the second northern-most tarred pass in South Africa and offers attractive scenery with lots of twists and turns over a distance of 3,57 km with a small altitude drop of just 57 vertical metres.




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Mountain Passes South Africa

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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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