Bastards Poort (P2312)

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The Karoo offers world class displays of naturally occuring succulents The Karoo offers world class displays of naturally occuring succulents - Photo: Photo: Wikipedia

A gravel road through a Karoo style poort of 5,56 km with comfortable gradients and rugged scenery. This is one of many farm roads that traverse the vast area of the Karoo. The towns are far apart and travellers need to be well prepared in case of a breakdown. This pass has the potential to form a clockwise loop from the Blounek Pass to rejoin the R381 much further north. This is a 'well off the beaten track' pass that will satisfy those that seek the wild and rugged roads of South Africa.

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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:

We're not sure who the bastard was after whom this poort is named, but let's focus on getting there: From Beaufort West, travel north on the R381 over the Molteno Pass and 13 km later over the Blounek Pass. Shortly after cresting the Blounek Pass, take the gravel road to the left at GPS S32.111555 E22.448931. Continue for 8 km heading north-west to the eastern start of the Bastards Poort at the crossing of a small river. There is a fork 3 km after the turn-off. Keep right as the left hand fork goes to a farm, Klavervlei, and is a dead-end.

Straight after crossing the bridge, the road begins ascending and bends away to the right and enters a full horsehoe bend, but the radius is very tight. To add fuel to the fire, this corner also has negative banking and loose gravel on the outside of the bend. It's an easy place to "lose it". We recommend a speed here of 30 kph. The gradients on the ascent are easy at 1:20 on average.

A short while later the road resumes its north-westerly heading and continues to climb steadily. The summit [1707m] is reached 2,42 km after the start, then dips slightly, only to rise again to the same altitude at the 2,75 km mark. This unusual geographical feature makes this pass unique as the only pass is South Africa with a double summit of exactly the same altitude. So there's another one for our record books!

At the 2,75 km mark, the descent begins, which is considerably steeper (1:12) then the ascent. The road drops down into the poort which is dominated by a cluster of peaks averaging 1800m. The scenery is wild and rugged and offers some great photographic opportunities - especially at dawn and dusk when the Karoo air is at its finest.

Summit views looking westAbove - Looking north west from the summit / Photo - Trygve RobertsTake it slowly along the descent as the road is narrow and peppered with sharp corners - 15 of them on the descent alone. At the 5,55 km mark the poort opens up into the wide expanse of the Karoo plains once more and the pass ends at a fork in the road at the farm, 'Rockdale'. There are a variety of options, but most of them involve travelling long distances over basic gravel roads. If you want to explore these roads, we recommend a detailed advance recce on Google earth and your GPS mapware to make sure you dont get lost or run out of fuel.

Our recommended route is to take the right hand fork at the end of the pass. Remain on this road for 33km which continues in a north-westerley direction till you reach the next fork at GPS S31.935536 E22.097094. Take the right hand road and continue for 12 km where you will cross the border into the Northern Cape and arrive at 4 way intersection at GPS S31.842016 E22.099014. Turn right once more and head east for 35 km where you will cross back over the border into the Western Cape where the road forms a T-junction with the R381. A left turn here will take you to Loxton and right turn will get you back to Beaufort West via the Roseberg, Blounek and Molteno passes.

This is a drive for the less hurried, more adventurous traveller. The roads are reasonable and this pass can be driven in almost any vehicle, except very low clearance cars. Ironically after filming most of the passes around Beaufort West, we discovered one of over 70 video clips, which was corrupt and could not be produced, which was ironically the Bastards Poort. It would seem the clip was bastardised!

If you are looking for interesting passes to drive in this lovely part of the Central Karoo and you want to start and end at Beaufort West, we suggest this circular route:
01. Molteno Pass (Tar and gravel)
02. Bontebok Pass (4x4 only on private property -Optional out and back)
03. Blounek Pass (Tar)
04. Bastards Poort (Gravel - Optional out and back - The page you're on)
05. Roseberg Pass (Gravel)
06. Trapvoet Pass (Gravel - 4x4 only)
07. De Jagers Pass (Gravel)
08. Klipspringer Pass (Tar - inside the Karoo National Park)
09. Pienaars Pass (4x4 Only - inside the Karoo National Park)
10. Spitskop Traverse (Gravel - a circular scenic drive)

Donkey carts are still used in the KarooAbove - Timeless travel in the Karoo / Photo: Flickr

Fact File:

GPS START  S32.080845 E22.394427
GPS SUMMIT S32.071733 E22.378485
GPS END  S32.055523 E22.354382
DISTANCE 5,55 km
TIME REQUIRED 30 minutes
SPEED LIMIT None (Self limiting)
DATE FILMED 20.03.2015
NEAREST TOWN Beaufort West (40km)

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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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