Buffelspoort (R104)

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View of the Buffelspoort Dam View of the Buffelspoort Dam - Photo: Hendri

This is an easy tarred pass running on the east-west axis on the northern side of the Magaliesberg, and in relatively close proximity to South Africa's "Platinum Belt" - one of the richest platinum reserves in the world and better known in recent times for the Marikana Massacre where protesting miners were shot by police. The pass also associates itself with happier events like the ATKV resort near the start with its indoor pools and some excellent fresh-water angling in the Buffelspoort Dam. The pass is of average length; has no dangerous corners and offers moderate gradients. It is suitable for all vehicles.

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[On-car video material supplied by Mike Liecester / Video cover photo by Sun City]

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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
: From Rustenburg, head east on the old road (R104) for 32 km to arrive at the western start of the Buffelspoort. The newer N4 highway runs a few kilometres to the north of the R104.

The road and large dam to the south of the poort share the same name and translated from Afrikaans means the "Path of the Buffalo". The pass starts at its western end at an altitude of 1219m ASL close to the ATKV Resort - a popular weekend destination for campers and holidaymakers. The renowned casino and hotel complex in the bush (Sun City) lies just 65 km to the north-west of Buffelspoort.

The western ascent begins at an easy gradient of 1:50 for the first two kilometres, then gets steeper at 1:20 as the road sweeps up towards the summit via a wide left hand curve. The summit of 1318m ASL is reached at 3,38km point where one can enjoy pleasant views of the surrounding countryside. The summit has two peaks on either side. On the left side (north) is a small stand-alone peak called Slangkop (1343m) and the bigger closer peak to the right (south) is Weltevrede which has a height of 1415m. Note that a speed restriction of 80 kph applies along the pass.

The eastern descent hosts the steepest part of the pass at 1:16. The initial descent is short, then the road levels off briefly at the 4,0 km mark for 400m, before descending again consistently to the eastern end at an altitude of 1219m at the first intersection adjacent to the tiny village of Mooinooi (Pretty Girl)

Shoping Mall at MooinooiThe local "shopping mall" / Photo: Daan PrinslooThe town of Marikana was laid out in 1870 on the farm Rooikoppies, and the settlement later expanded into seven white-owned farms. In 1933, the Buffelspoort Dam was built, allowing the local farmers to irrigate their crops.

The farming community grew in the 1960s on the back of lucrative tobacco farming, but other diversified farming practices i.e. cattle, maize, chillies, paprika, soya, lusern and sunflower amongst the main groups was the main economic driver of the area. In the 1970s mining was introduced and grew to become the main industry in the region. The main mining activities are PGMs and chrome. Since the introduction of mining activities the informal and formal population had a growth explosion.

The Marikana miners' strike of 10 August 2012 and the subsequent killing of 34 workers by police made headlines in the international media.

Chrome smelter nr RustenburgA chrome smelting plant near Rustenburg / Photo: Earthexe

Fact File:

GPS START  S25.756832 E27.483591
GPS SUMMIT S25.764813 E27.515664
GPS END  S25.760605 E27.548445
SURFACE Tar (R104)
DATE FILMED 16.08.2015
NEAREST TOWN Mooinooi (5 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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