Aapsrivierspoort (P1721)

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Remote gravel roads in the Swartberg Remote gravel roads in the Swartberg - Photo: Photo - Panoramio

An easy drive through a poort that follows the course of the Aapsrivier (Monkey's River). This connecting farm road forms a semi-circular loop that joins the R407 near Klaarstroom with the northern end of Meiringspoort and is labelled as the P1721. With typical poort statistics, the road only ascends 89m over 4,66 km producing an easy average gradient of 1:54. The road is suitable for all vehicles and was receiving a major upgrade at the time of filming in May, 2015.

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Digging into the details:

Getting there: We filmed the poort from north to south (ascending) but it can be driven from either direction. From the point where the R407 intersects with the N12 about 6 km west of Klaarstroom, head west towards Prince Albert on the tarred R407, but only for 300m, where you must turn left (south) at the first gravel road. It dips down steeply to a low level bridge. This is the Aapsrivier and the northern starting point of the poort.

If you prefer approaching from the southern end, drive up Meiringspoort from De Rust. Near the northern end of the poort, there is a signboard pointing to the left (west) which reads "MIDDELWATER" Take this turn off and follow this gravel road for 16 km which will get you to the southern start of the poort.

Aapsrivierpoort Old Road stone wallingRemnants of the old dry stone support walls can still be seen on the opposite side of the river / Photo: Trygve RobertsThe Aapsrivier has carved a small poort out for itself as it flows northwards down the foothills of the Swartberg mountains. It forms a confluence with the bigger Grootrivier close to the junction of the R407 and the N12. It's easy to miss the turn-off from the R407 onto this little road, so make sure you are aware of exactly where to find it. A cluster of farm buildings around the river and bridge are landmarks worth noting, as the gravel road descends steeply to a narrow, low-level concrete bridge - only wide enough for a single vehicle. The Aapsrivier, although being a short, small river, packs a big punch when the rains do come, as debris around the ends of the bridge indicate. The first farm on the right hand side of the road on the northern side of the river is Kluesplaas and the farm on the southern side of the bridge is called Avondrust. Shortly after crossing the bridge, there is a fork in the road. Ignore the left hand fork, which is a dead-end and leads to the farm Moreson. Keep right and follow the Aapsrivierpoort road.

This poort is scenic and enjoyable to drive with plenty of variety, traversing various farms. Of more importance, is that on the opposite bank of the river, the remains of a carefully packed dry-stone supporting wall of an old road can still be seen by the careful observer. We were not able to uncover any additional information on this old road, but based on other passes in the area, it probably dates to the mid 1800's. It's quite difficult to access it, as the river has to be crossed and it lies on private property. Perhaps someone with enough spare time, could stop in at the farmer and ask about its history? Keep us posted please!

Dense riverine bush plays host to troops of monkeysThe narrow poort is shared by the old and new road, as well as the river / Photo: Trygve RobertsThe new road faithfully follows the eastern bank of the Aapsrivier for 2,3 km with dense riverine bush on one side and some steep slopes on the other as it ascends steadiy into the south. Here you are likely to see Cape Vervet Monkeys, hence the name of the river is accurate. The first section of the road crosses three distinct east/west running ridges, of which the last ridge is just over 1000m in height, whereafter it opens up onto a small plain. At this point (2,3 km), the road heads away from the river and follows a smaller tributary into the SSE.

The road continues ascending at an easy, but steady gradient for the final 2,5 km with the mountain ridge on the left (north) and the little stream on the right. At the 4,5 km mark, the road bends sharply to the right and changes direction into the south-west, heading towards the farms Kleinvlei and Gideonshoop. This bend also marks the southern end of the poort, but these roads less travelled, often offer pleasant surprises for the adventurous traveller, and in this case, there are another two great passes that lie in wait. These are the Kleinvlei Pass (which is a real gem) and a little further lies the Bloupuntrivierspoort, the latter which forms a side canyon along Meiringspoort and also offers some typical contorted and dramatic rock formations typical of the Swartberg.

Fact File:

GPS START  S33.308676 E22.477199
GPS SUMMIT S33.342078 E22.467790
GPS END  S33.342078 E22.467790
DISTANCE 4,66 km
TIME REQUIRED 15 minutes
SPEED LIMIT 30 - 60 kph
DATE FILMED 26.05.2015
NEAREST TOWN De Rust (30 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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