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[Video cover photo by Trygve Roberts]
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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 the north, this pass can be approached either from the R355 in the east or from Kamieskroon in the west off the N7. Follow the directions for each of the following passes via the hyperlinks provided, as all three are on the same road and follow in a sequence from north to south. from Kamieskroon, first head east over the Kamiesberg Pass, then head south over the Draaiklip Pass, followed very soon by the Leliefontein Pass, to arrive at the northern start of the Groenkloof Pass 2,5 km beyond the southern end of the Leliesfontein Pass.
For those wanting to drive it in the opposite direction, head over Studer's Pass from Garies, and turn left at the staggered intersection at GPS S30.390518 E18.139096 and head north for 2,5 km to arrive at the southern start of Groenkloof Pass.
We filmed this pass from north to south. Regardless of which direction you travel along this road, you will end up traversing all three of the passes on the R2943. These are from north to south the Draaiklip, Leliefontein and Groenkloof passes.
This lovely and very scenic pass has quite a big altitude variance of 251m and some very sharp corners, most of which occur over a short section towards the southern end of the pass. From the northern start and summit point of 1385m ASL, the road heads towards the ESE and begins descending very gradually at 1:40. Here you can relax and enjoy the fabulous Namaqualand vistas of rounded granite boulders and wide views of the big mountains.
A smaller gravel road connects with the P2943 from the left, which originates in Leliefontein. The big mountain immediately to the left is Johannes se Berg with a summit height of 1550m. To the right is a wide and surprisngly fertile valley with a tall ridge of mountains known as Vissersplaat [1478m]. The road heads along this valley meandering through easy corners and descending very gradually till the 1,5 km point, where a wide bend to the right, changes the direction into the SSE and the gradient increases to 1:25.
The going remains easy as the valley gradually narrows towards an obvious kloof in the distance. The actual entrance into the Groenkloof is reached at 2,8 km mark as the bulky mountain of 1583m on the left dominates the views to the east and just a little further to the south-east is the slightly lower Sittensberg [1553m].
As the kloof narrows, the road loses it's easy gradients and bends and speed needs to be lowered to a suggested 30 kph as the gradients suddenly get as steep as 1:7 and the bends and corners increase sharply in frequency and radius. There are 19 sharp bends along this section alone and one cattle grid, which is located at the 4,2 km mark.
The pass ends at the 5,9 km mark adjacent to the farm Koorlandskloof. Continue for a further 2,5 km to arrive at Die Kruis, where you have route options. To return to Garies via Studers Pass, turn right here. To return to Garies via the Langkloof Pass and Skuinshoogte Pass, go straight. This latter option involves several farm gates to be opened and closed and is the slower of the two route options.
There are many places to stop safely along this road, where you can take in the solitude and majesty of the Namaqualand mountain scenery. The only time you are likely to come across any meaningful traffic on this road is during the flower season of August and September.
If you enjoy these gravel passes and the wild flowers, we recommend a circular route, which is better driven in a clockwise loop, starting at Kamieskroon via the Kamiesberg Pass, Klipdraai Pass, Leliefontein Pass, Groenkloof Pass and Studers or Langkloof passes, ending at Garies. This big loop will take several hours and provide you with one of the finest scenic drives in Namaqualand.
Namaqualand! 100% big sky country. Extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the small town of Pofadder in the east, north from the great Orange River and south beyond Garies, Namaqualand is indeed a vast and varied region. During the arid summer months it is difficult for the tourist to imagine the phenomenon of the yearly wild flower appearance.
After the winter rainfall, Namaqualand dons her coat of many colours and for a brief moment, the wildflowers invade the countryside. Countless poems, novels, paintings and prose have been dedicated to this annual shower of God's colour.
Simon van der Stel, Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, discovered the rich copper deposits of Namaqualand during 1685 although, long before any ship docked at Table Bay the local Nama people had fine tuned the art of smelting copper and using it for domestic and decorative use.
Copper and diamond mining brought a diversity of people to the area and thus created economic stability. In Namaqualand the visitor will find indescribable treasures amongst the wide selection of remarkable fauna and flora.
[Info sourced NamaqualandTourism.com]
|GPS START||S30.334173 E18.095746|
|GPS SUMMIT||S30.334173 E18.095746|
|GPS END||S30.370410 E18.126860|
|DIRECTION - TRAVEL||South East|
|TIME REQUIRED||8 minutes|
|SPEED LIMIT||60 kph|
|NEAREST TOWN||Garies (35 km)|
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