Kommando Nek Pass (R560)

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Ruins of the blockhouse at Kommando Nek Ruins of the blockhouse at Kommando Nek - Photo: Hendri

This is a modest pass that clears an old military outpost known as Kommando Nek. It connects Hekpoort to the west with the village of Hartbeespoort to the east via the R560 / R512. It only rises 56m over 2,4 km producing an easy average gradient of 1:43, with the steeper sections before and after the summit presenting at 1:14. The pass offers lovely views over the Hartbeespoort Dam as well as access to some of the ruins of the old blockhouses dating back to the Anglo-Boer war.

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

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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
: Head east on the R560 / R512 from Hekpoort for 28 km to arrive at the southern start of the pass.

For the first 500m the gradient is virtually flat, only climbing at a gradient of 1:130, but that soon changes as the gradient increases to 1:20 as the road reaches for the summit of 1261m via an easy and wide left hand bend at the 1,25 km mark. Halfway up to the summit there is a turn-off to the right (south), called Simon Bekker Avenue, which leads down to the various suburbs and facilites at the waters edge including Kosmos and Kosmos Ridge.

Looking up towards the summit there are two obvious tall peaks. To the left (west) the peak has a telecomms tower marking it [1562,6m] and the peak to the right (east) is 1488,3m high. Most of the area of the mountain range itself falls under the jurisdiction and protection of the Magaliesberg Protected Natural Environment.

From the summit the views open up towards the north-east and the village of Hartbeespoort. The descent begins immediately at a steady gradient of 1:20 and the road is basically arrow straight all the way to the end of the pass at the four way stop at an altitude of 1205m ASL.

On 1 st October 1899, war broke out between the two ‘white tribes, the British and the Boer republics of Transvaal and Orange Free State. Within a year many lives were lost in the fighting in the Magaliesberg valleys, at Kommando Nek, Nooitgedacht and in many of the deep gorges and high ridges along the mountain side. All over the area remnants of these clashes can be seen. Many forts and blockhouses were built at strategic points in the mountains and some can still be seen today, the most prominent being the fort overlooking Kommando Nek and the Hartebeespoort Dam built in early 1901.

The second Anglo-Boer war brought its own pressures to this area. The Boers who were very familiar with the mountains, used secret pathways to cross the mountains and launch guerrilla attacks on the British soldiers. Occupation of the Magaliesberg was of great importance to the Boer and English forces, especially routes between Pretoria and Rustenburg that crossed the Magaliesberg mountains through, Silkaatsnek and Kommandonek. Great battles were fought and lives were lost at Buffelspoort, Nooitgedacht, and Olifantsnek. The mountains were a severe testing of military skills and the Magaliesberg war was dominated by Boer leaders like De la Rey, De Wet, Beyers, Smuts and Kemp, who were experts in guerrilla leadership.

Fruit stall next to the roadAlong most of the roads in the area you will find fruit stalls like this one/ Photo: Daan Prinsloo

Fact File:

GPS START  S25.742489 E27.815589
GPS SUMMIT S25.732761 E27.822008
GPS END  S25.726689 E27.830112
SURFACE Tar (R560)
DATE FILMED 15.08.2015
NEAREST TOWN Hartbeespoort (11 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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