The Saddleback Pass is located to the south-east of Barberton and forms part of the R40 which connects with the border post at Bulembo, Swaziland. The pass is tarred and in fair condition with obvious signs of maintenance in a state of ongoing progress. There were however some signs of potholes appearing, but these were not many. It climbs 609 meters in altitude over 10,4 km producing an average gradient of 1:17 - This will put it amongst our upper end list of steepest passes in our Extreme Passes listing.
It is as well that it is tarred, as this road would have been something of a nightmare in wet weather, when it was still gravel. Beyond the summit and Lomati Dam, the tar continues and gets a name change - The Bulembu Pass.
At 17,5 km the Santa Pass is one of the longer passes in South Africa. It is also a high aItitude pass with many sections being above 2000m. It is named after the Santa forestry settlement in the first valley on the western side, through which the pass traverses. It's a tarred pass on the R540 between Dullstroom 15 km to the SW and Lydenberg 45km to the north. The pass descends 396m to produce an average gradient of an easy 1:44 with the steepest parts being at 1:10. There are no warnings or cautionaries for this pass.
Schoemans Kloof on the R539 route is a major kloof following the course of the Crocodile River. The kloof is narrow and confined at it's western (higher) end where the Patata Nek Pass descends down into the wider part of the kloof. The main part of the kloof is beautifully scenic, has easy gradients and meanders through wide and easy turns through some lovely Lowveld scenery and forests. The road is modern, well designed and suitable for all vehicles.
This is a fairly serious gravel road pass located in the heart of the gold mining reefs, east of Barberton. We recommend a 4WD vehicle when the weather is wet as things could get very slippery in a normal car when these roads become muddy. The pass gains/loses 443m of altitude with some sections as steep as 1:6. It connects the Louw's Creek area in the north with the R40 close to Barberton in the west and services forestry, farming and gold mining activities.
This modern, well engineered tarred pass is on the R541 between Badplaas (36 km to the SSW) and Machadodorp (20 km to the NE). It is 7,58km long and gains 444m in altitude to summit at 1719m ASL. This is a steep pass with an average gradient of 1:17 with some very steep sections at 1:6. The pass traverses the Skurweberg mountains and offers beautiful scenery and two excellent hiking trails, waterfalls and wildlife.
Steenkampsberg Pass is sometimes mistakenly referred to as "De Berg Pass" after the highest peak in the range at an altitude of 2331m. This tarred pass joins Lydenburg in the north-east with the small settlement of Roossenekal in the SSW. It is approximately 30 km to either town. The pass gains 434 vertical meters over 17,1 km producing an average gradient of 1:20. The steepest parts are at 1:7. The scenery along the entire length of the pass is exceptional and well worth any detour you will have made to drive it.
The Sudwala Pass is located in Mpumalanga province on the tarred R539 between Sudwala Caves and Lydenburg. It starts at its northern side at 1072m ASL and rises to 1223m, descending again to 996m. The total length of the pass is 8,93 kms producing an easy gradient of 1/39 with the steepest sections presenting at 1:14. The road is suitable for all vehicles and offers easy sweeping curves with perfect Lowveld scenery. It also gives access to the Sudwala Caves and Resort a further 7,3 kms south of the pass.
The Uitkyk Pass is more commonly called the Uitkyk Road by locals. It lies just 15km to the south of Nelspruit and provides access to several farms as well as the plantations of bluegums and pines for harvesting and maintenance. It traverses sections of the Krokodilspoort mountains in the form of a large V.
This straight forward north/south traverse of a natural neck is 6.18km long and climbs 189m producing an average gradient of 1:20. It lies on the tarred R36 between Lydenburg, 25km to the south and Orighstad, 25 km to the north. The pass boasts a lofty summit altitude of 1411m. There are no apparent dangers or cautionaries for this pass other than mist at any time of the year and smoke during the fire season. The pass straddles the border between Mpumalanga and Limpopo. We have allocated the pass to Mpumalanga in terms of it's connections with Robbers Pass and other history.
A fairly easy pass just north of Volksrust on the N11 with an average gradient of 1:45, but there are some steep sections at 1:8. The vertical profile is the classic up/down shape with a summit altitude of 1844m offering grand views in all directions. Volksrust is subject to winter snowfalls due to its high altitude and this pass does sometimes get closed by the traffic authorities in the event of heavy snow, which makes conditions on the pass dangerous.
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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