Doornhoek Pass (Rooi Ivoor 4x4)

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A section of the 4x4 route (winter) A section of the 4x4 route (winter) - Photo: Photo:

A bigger pass of 10,2 km which loses 408m in altitude, producing an average gradient of 1:25 and the steepest parts being at 1:5. It offers dramatic views over deep kloofs and valleys with a jumble of green peaks wherever you look. It forms part of the Rooi Ivoor 4x4 route on the north/south axis which includes the Buffelskloof Pass as well as access to the Buffelskloof Dam. The route is restricted/private and there are control gates at both the Doornkloof farm in the north as well as near the Buffelskloof dam in the south. Only open to proper 4x4 vehicles with good clearance and low range.

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Digging into the details:

Getting there: For purposes of finding this pass, we have produced and described the pass from south to north. This access description is therefore identical to that of the Buffelskloof Pass, which we repeat here. Please note that you first need to contact Rooi Ivoor 4x4 and obtain your permit to gain access from either the southern or northern approaches to the route system.

There are many different ways to access this road. We describe the simplist approach from the south. From Dullstroom head north-east on tthe tarred R540 for 26 km. At GPS S25.256180 E30.258997 turn left onto a gravel road. Remain on this road for 16 km as it heads due north. At the 16 km mark there is a 4 way intersection.

This photo shows why it is only suitable for 4x4 vehiclesThis is why you need a 4x4 vehicle / Photo courtesy of on the same road (which becomes tar from the 4 way intersection) still heading north for a further 21 km. Turn right onto the Buffelskloof Dam road at GPS S24.966272 E30.211726. This road is gravel. Drive for 6 km to reach the southern start of the Buffelskloof Pass. Access is restricted and per permit only. There is a control gate near the start of the pass.

Rooi Ivoor is the Afrikaans name for the Red Ivory tree that grows in the area. Its botanical name is Berchemia Zeyheri. It is well shaped tree which grows up to 10m in height. It occurs at medium to low altitude, in open woodland, often on termite mounds, on rocky ridges and along watercourses. It has a striking and unusual pink heartwood.

After you have completed the Buffelskloof Pass and gained the summit point, you have reached the starting point of the Doornhoek Pass. It starts at an altitude of 1435m ASL just after passing the main turn-off (to the right) to the Bergfontein settlement. Take a glance to the right (east), where you will see the highest peak in the immediate area 1647.6m. It is called Mamokgalwana. The heading of the road is due north and views along this summit ridge are savagely beautiful, with the deep cliffs and forests of Buffelsvlei on the right (east), whilst the left hand side is not quite as steep, but nonetheless offers wide vistas of the Doornkloof valley and farmstead. There are alternative loops on the 4x4 route covering a total of 62 km and these are graded from moderate to difficult. This page covers only the Doornhoek Pass itself.

Forever iews over the LowveldIncredible views over the forest clad hills of Mpumalanga / Photo: Wikepedia

The road descends fairly gently at first, then the gradient gets steeper as the road follows one of the main ridges splitting the end of this mountain range into a series of deep ravines and peaks. The direction remains into the north and 4,2 km after the start, the first sharp corner makes its appearance. It’s almost a full left hand hairpin of 150 degrees, which changes the heading into the south-west for 500m, before heading north-west at the next sharp bend of 90 degrees. The descent gets steeper (1:6) here as the views ahead are directly towards the Doornhoek farmstead.

At the 6,3 km mark, the turn-off to the Doornhoek farm is passed and 6,8 km after the start the gradient starts easing considerably, as the road arrives at the next 90 degree bend to the right, after crossing a small stream, where a smaller farm road forms a fork on the left.

From this point, the heading changes into the north east, as the road hugs the left hand side of the valley. At the 7,6 km mark, the entrance to the farm Eldorado is passed on the right. This is also the normal starting point of the 4x4 trail. The road follows the contours of the mountain and ducks in and out of a few smaller ravines and one particularly nasty right hand turn of 120 degrees, which is extremely sharp.

The pass ends after negotiating the final left hand bend, which has a wider turning radius and presents no problems. Here the entrance to the second Doornhoek farmstead is passed (on the right hand side). The heading resumes its original northerly direction and dips into another two small ravines in right hand bends, before the mountains open up towards a wide valley, with the Eloffspruit running along the right hand side of the road.

It’s another 4 km to the end of the road, where it forms a T-junction with a bigger road between Boerboomskraal on the R37 (turn right and drive 6km) and
Steelpoort on the R555 (turn left and drive 11 km).

This pass has its summit and end points in two provinces - Mpumalanga and Limpopo, but the bulk of the pass is on the Limpopo side, so we have indexed it into Limpopo province.

[Editors note: 14th January, 2016 - We have just had news from Anvie Ventures that the land over which this pass runs has been sold as a result of a land claim and therefore this road is no longer publicly accessible]

Fact File:

GPS START  S24.875904 E30.265973
GPS SUMMIT S24.870490 E30.268400
GPS END  S24.819712 E30.290402
DISTANCE 10,2 km
TIME REQUIRED 60 minutes
SPEED LIMIT None - 4x4
SURFACE Gravel - Two spoor track
DATE FILMED 10.03.2015
NEAREST TOWN Steelpoort (14 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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