The Western Cape

This pass is loaded with drama and history dating back to 1910 and is best appreciated driven slowly. It must have seemed an impossible task building a road on such an inhospitable and dangerous cliff face, but the road building pioneers did the job! This iconic mountain pass ranks amongst the Top 5 tourist attractions in Cape Town.

 



 







Clarence Drive is a magnificent scenic coastal drive between the windswept hamlet of Rooi-Els and the naval town of Gordons Bay, which nestles in the north-eastern crook of False Bay in the shadow of the Hottentots Hollands mountains. This beautiful, coastal drive stretches between the two towns over 21 km, hugging the wild turquoise Cape coastline all the way. If you like passes with lots of corners, then this one is for you, as it contains 77 bends, curves and corners of which four are in excess of 150 degrees. The road is in a beautiful condition and attracts tourists, locals, bikers and cyclists in their droves. Overtaking is fairly limited and in general one can expect to average well below 60 kph.

  

This thoroughly enjoyable and fairly long pass of 19 km straddles the Vreysrant Mountains between Herbertsdale and Van Wyksdorp. The road is generally well maintained to a high  standard, despite the gravel surface. The northern section can get quite narrow at times, but should present no problems providing speed limits are adhered to. There are at least half a dozen river crossings over low level culverts, which can be dangerous if the rivers come down in flood - as was the case just one week prior to us filming. In the video clip there is ample evidence of fresh repair work and it can be seen just how high these rivers can get. Poor judgement or ego driven decisions could be fatal. If you are not prepared to walk it, then dont drive it.





This little known poort lies just north-east of Calitzdorp and provides a superb, but slower gravel alternative to the R62. It connects Calitzdorp with the farming communities that lie to the north of the R62 and south of the Swartberg Mountains. The poort offers beautiful and dramatic scenery of the unusual red sandstone mountains.

The Cogmanskloof Pass connects the towns of Ashton and Montagu. Its entire 6.5 km stretches through a majestic landscape of towering rock formations and a colourful pastoral patchwork, which delights the eye and invigorates the heart! Renamed after the popular Cape Colonial Secretary, John Montagu, the town's original name of Cogmanskloof is where this pass took its name from.

 

Cole's Pass was considered in it's day to be quite a serious road and contains three minor passes within its 21,6 km length, but with the excellent modern engineering methods having smoothed out the gradients and improved the banking and width, today the name of Cole's Pass has fallen into disuse as offialdom no longer consider it worthy of being called a pass. In essence, the road connects the Houw Hoek Pass in the east with Sir Lowry's Pass in the west and forms part of the N2 highway. The road traverses lovely mountainous scenery, dotted with apple orchards, forests, dams and rivers, but this is a very busy highway, so drivers will need to keep their eyes on the road.

Like Sir Lowry's Pass, this pass was also named after Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole. He served as brigadier-general in Sicily and commanded the 1st Brigade at the Battle of Maida on the 4 July 1806. In 1808 he was promoted to major-general, to lieutenant-general in 1813 and full general in 1830. He was colonel of the 27th Foot, commanded the 4th Division in the Peninsular War under Wellington, and was wounded at the Battle of Albuera in which he played a decisive part. He was also wounded, much more seriously, at Salamanca. For having served with distinction in the battles of Maida, Albuhera, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthez and Toulouse, he received the Army Gold Cross with four clasps.

He was appointed 2nd Governor of Mauritius from 1823 to 1828. He left in 1828 to take up the post of Governor of the Cape Colony which position he filled until 1833. Cole was invested as a Knight Grand Cross, Order of the Bath on 2 January 1815.

This fairly long suburban pass links Hout Bay in the west with Constantia on the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula. It traverses some of the most beautiful woodlands in the Cape and passes many exclusive wine and equine estates. It is smack-bang on the main tourist route and carries heavy traffic. There are no safety shoulders on the road, making it dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. At the summit at Constantia Nek there are some historical buildings and a timeless restaurant considered to be the oldest restaurant in South Africa.

This lovely gravel pass traverses a substantial area of the Botelierskop Private Game Reserve, which lies due north of Klein Brak Rivier on the Garden Route’s coastal plateau. The pass is just over 5 km long and has gradients between 1:5 and 1:20. You are almost guaranteed to see game on this lovely drive. This road appears on certain maps as Blesbok Road.

This is a very special pass, much loved by pass hunters, nature lovers and the gliding fraternity. It rises up from the wheat and canola plains of the Swartland just north of Porterville through a series of tight bends, steep gradients and two severe hairpins to summit at 700m ASL at the top of the Groot Winterberg mountain range. The pass was tarred a few years ago, taking away some of the excitement, but the benefits are a much safer pass with considerable savings in maintenance. Near the summit, on the left hand side of the road, you will see the hang glider and paraglider steel launch ramp, where the bird-men go airborne for hours soaring in the updraft of the mountains.

The Dassieshoek Pass is a gravel road just north of Robertson that connects the town with the Dassieshoek Nature Reserve, which nestles in the foothills of the Langeberg mountains. The pass is gravel and despite some extremely sharp corners, has relatively easy gradients and it can be driven in a normal sedan vehicle. The road is a dead–end. This is not an official pass, but qualifies to be listed in terms of our definition.

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Route File

On a pass-page, scroll down to below the Route Map, to download the Route File. Available only to Registered Users.

 

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.
 

Master Orientation Map

Master Orientation Map We are as passionate about maps as we are about mountain passes. A good map is a thing of beauty that can transport you into the mists of time or get your sense of adventure churning. It is a place to make discoveries about deserts and seas, mountains and lakes; of roads leading into places you have not been before; a place to pore over holiday destinations or weekend camping trips. A map is your window to the world.

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