Die Noute (D178)

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A ruin near the summit A ruin near the summit - Photo: Mike Leicester

“Die Noute” translates directly into English as “The Narrows”, and this pass is probably named as such because it climbs up the mountains through a narrow kloof. But the term is often used idiomatically in Afrikaans, as in “as jy in die noute beland” which loosely translates to “if you have to tighten your belt”, so it could also refer to hardship and trouble. The pass is just 1.1 kms long and has a height difference of only 36 metres, but it traverses neatly through dense riverine forest, and in some ways is briefly reminiscent of the 7 Passes road between Knysna and George.

 

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[On-car video footage supplied by Mike Leicester]

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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: Starting from Bela-Bela (Warmbaths) at the intersection of Voortrekker Road and Grobler Avenue (S24.885155 E28.290244), travel in a north westerly direction along Grobler Avenue, which, after 550 metres, kinks slightly to the left and changes its name to Robbertson Street. Continue in a north westerly direction along this road, which is designated as the D180, for another 9.9 kms, at which point the road changes from tar to gravel. After another 5.1 kms, you will reach a Y-junction – make sure that you take the right-hand fork.

A narrow, winding roadThe road winds through thick riverine bush / Photo by Mike LeicesterAfter travelling for 7.2 kms, you will reach another Y-junction – this time you need to make sure that you stay left. The road changes its designation at this point to the D178, and after another 2.8 kms, at S24.734525 E28.143841, you will reach the southern start point of the Kwaggasnek pass. Continue over the pass for another 10.7 kms, at which point you will reach a 4-way intersection (S24.650545 E28.108713). There is a slight offset, so turn left and then immediately right, to continue heading in a north westerly direction, still on the D178. After 2.3 kms you will reach the southern start point of the pass at S24.634806 E28.093936. The pass can be driven in both directions, so if you do approach Die Noute from the north, please invert the description and the coordinates.

This pass should be viewed in conjunction with the Kwaggasnek pass, which is a few kilometres further south, and which will normally be driven in tandem.

From the start of the pass, the road heads in a north-westerly direction for 300 metres, then begins a sharp right-hand turn towards the north. The gradient kicks up quite sharply at this point, with a drop-off to your left protected by a guard rail. This is followed by two S-bends in quick succession, all of which contain blind corners, so please be careful of oncoming traffic. The road then continues to climb in a generally northerly direction until the summit of the pass is reached at the 1.1 km mark. As with so many of the roads in Limpopo, there is game fencing along this pass, so you have a good chance of spotting some animals.

Hanlin Lodge, ModimolleHanlin Lodge near ModimolleIn the 1860s, a group of Voortrekkers called the “Jerusalem Trekkers” set off to journey to the Holy Land. After coming upon a wide river flowing northwards, they consulted the maps at the back of their Bibles and decided that it was the source of the Nile River. They settled a town, and called it Nylstroom (Nile Stream). They then discovered what they
believed to be a ruined pyramid close by, and were even more convinced that they had reached Egypt. This was in fact a natural hillock, known to the locals as Modimolle, which is a Tswana word meaning “God has eaten”. After being named
Nylstroom since its inception in 1866, the name of the town was changed to Modimolle in 2002. Today the town focuses primarily on agriculture (citrus and grapes) and cattle farming, as well as wildlife and tourism. It is 38 kilometres from Die Noute by the most direct route.

[Research and text write-up by Mike Leicester]


Fact File:

GPS START 

S24.634806 E28.093936

GPS SUMMIT

S24.627084 E28.093052

GPS END 

S24.627084 E28.093052

AVE GRADIENT

1:30

MAX GRADIENT

1:14

ELEVATION START

1405m

ELEVATION SUMMIT

1441m

ELEVATION END

1441m

HEIGHT GAIN/LOSS

36m

DISTANCE

1,1 km

DIRECTION - TRAVEL

North

TIME REQUIRED

2 minutes

SPEED LIMIT

60 kph

SURFACE

Gravel (D178)

DATE FILMED

04.10.2015

TEMPERATURE

29C

NEAREST TOWN

Modimolle (38 km)


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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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