Mountain Passes

This short poort is located on a minor gravel road between Victoria West and Loxton. It's only just over a kilometre long and has a small altitude variance of 33m. It's a very long drive locating this little poort and only the most dedicated pass hunters will make the big effort to drive it.

To make up for its relatively unimpressive statistics, you will experience an intense of isolation and the wide and barren expanses of the Karoo always has landscapes of note to enjoy.

The usual gravel road cautionaries apply of corrugations, ruts and washaways as well as loose gravel on the corners. IT's best to expect to get a puncture. If you don't have two spare wheels, travel with a repair kit and know how to use it. A portable compressor is a useful addition to your tool kit.

This hidden poort is well off the beaten track yet not that far from main routes and towns. It's located along the east-west axis and approximately 5 km north of the R407 between Prince Albert and Klaarstroom. This is a typical farm road that carries very low traffic volumes, so you will enjoy a sense of isolation and tranquility.

As is the case with all gravel roads, be prepared for punctures, and expect corrugations (depending on when last rain fell or maintenance took place). Livestock on the road is also an ever present danger.

We have not physically driven this poort ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps. The possibility exists that you might encounter locked farm gates. Make sure you have sufficient fuel to backtrack.

There are three Blounek passes in South Africa and all of them are of a minor nature. This one is located on the gravel road between Merweville in the north and the Koup railway siding off the N1 in the south. It's not much of a pass at 2 km in length with a small altitude variance of 42m producing an easy average gradient of 1:48 with the steepest sections reaching 1:11.

The pass only has 2 bends and if you have not plotted the start and end points into your GPS, you might drive over it without realising it's an official pass.

The best reason for driving this pass is that it will take you to the little village of Merweville, which is packed with interesting buildings, fascinating history and earthy, friendly people.

We have not physically driven this pass ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps. The possibility exists that you might encounter locked farm gates. Make sure you have sufficient fuel to backtrack.

This minor little pass of only 2,5 km has an altitude variance of 63m producing a mild average gradient of 1:40 and no point ever exceeds 1:12, making this an easy enough traverse. The Northern Cape government cartographers were keen to name every poort and pass that they could possibly find and this is one of many official passes, which barely comply with the basic definition of a pass, but it's official, so we have produced and indexed it for the sake of thoroughness.

There is a certain kind of pleasure in actually navigating your way successfully to locate these out of the way passes and poorts, so if you hunt this one down, remember to enjoy the 'getting there' part to the full. This part of the Northern Cape is achingly dry, barren and underpopulated. Drive well prepared for punctures and make sure you have enough fuel.

We have not physically driven this pass ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps. The possibility exists that you might encounter locked farm gates. Make sure you have sufficient fuel to backtrack.

Basterspoort is about as minor a poort as what a poort can get. It is just 1,9 km long and only has a 12m altitude variance. It's located on a farm track which is barely discernable on the satellite imagery close to the border between the Western and Northern Cape.  This is an official poort as listed on the government 1:50,000 maps. It should not be confused with Bastards Poort about 80 km further south.

The road follows the valley of a natural poort along the south-western side of a mountain named Beesberg. (Cattle Mountain) and connects a few remote farms. It is possible to drive from the R381 to the R356 using this road and a combination of other roads. There is a possibility that this road (and others) might be gated and locked, so if you're an uber pass hunter, drive here at your own risk and make sure you have enough fuel in case you have to retrace your route.

We have not physically driven this pass ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps.

This is an official pass as logged on the government maps, but when you drive it, you will wonder which cartographer had the courage to name this road a pass as there is very little that resembles a real mountain pass, other than it's vertical profile. Despite its very long length of 18,7 km and a respectable altitude variance of 286m, it only has 10 bends, corners and curves and none of them exceeds 30 degrees radius.

What you will enjoy is a feeling of remoteness in the dense Addo bush and the possibility of spotting game. This pass will only be driven by the more serious pass enthusiast. The usual Eastern Cape cautionaries apply of corrugations, and loose gravel on corners as well as livestock and pedestrians on the road.

This impressive pass has a lot to offer. It edges along a ridge of the Drakensberg range and requires a fairly big detour to drive it. The pass consists of a mix of tar and gravel and is 13,3 km long and falls mostly within the boundaries of the Witsieshoek Transfrontier Park. It's an out and back pass which ends at the Witsieshoek viewpoint, which is the springboard for a number of hiking and climbing routes. Parts of the road cross into the Royal Natal National Park World Heritage Site.

The pass is peppered with bends - 72 of them in total, of which 12 exceed 90 degrees radius. This is a big ascent of 658m, but the fairly long distance takes the sting out of the average gradient which measures in at 1:20, but be aware that some of the steeper sections are very steep at 1:5. An overnight stay at the well run Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge is the main reason most people drive this road, and for hikers and climbers the end of the road is Sentinel peak car park which gives acces to the Amphitheatre - a springboard to the raw beauty of the Drakensberg.

The Eastern Cape Highlands spawned many great gravel passes, but the Weenen Pass is amongst the least known of those. It lies along the R392 route between Lady Grey in the north and Dordrecht in the south. It's well above the national average in terms of length at 8,4 km and displays an altitude variance of 378m, which produces an average gradient of 1:22.

The pass never gets steeper than 1:11 at any point making the road suitable for all vehicles except in very heavy rain or snow conditions. The usual gravel road cautionaries apply - such as corrugations, loose gravel on the corners, ruts and washaways and of course every Eastern Cape pass is automatically coded red for livestock on the road.

Most of the 16 bends, corners and curves are well below 90 degrees radius and what is different about this pass is that it does not display a dominant direction, but runs north-south as well as east-west in equal proportions.

Vaalheuwel is an Afrikaans word, which translates into 'Dun Coloured Hills'. The pass is so named after the farm near the foot of the pass. It is particularly apt as the entire vista consists of a large mass of scattered hills which form a broken escarpment towards the west-coast near the diamond mining town of Kleinsee.

This is mining country and the vast bulk of the economic activity revolves around the extraction of minerals, and especially diamonds, from the earth. There is very little agricultural activity, due to the very low rainfall. When driving here on these back roads, be extremely aware of access restrictions near diamond mines as you could end up being in serious trouble if you ignore warning signs.

The pass is of average length at 4,2 km and has a steep average gradient of 1:13 which reaches 1:7 towards the western end of the pass. The steep average gradient is a result of an impressive altitude variance of 314m over a fairly short distance. Other than the usual gravel road precautionaries, be aware of loose gravel on the many corners of this pass and the biggest issue will invariably be corrugations, which is the most common reason drivers roll their vehicles.

This long tarred pass connects the town of Jozini with the N2 national highway and traverses the mountains on the south eastern side of the Pongolapoort Dam. Although the average gradients are a gentle 1:49 there are some fairly steep sections that reach 1:7 closer to the summit point.

This is a fairly modern pass with good engineering standards, but there are a number of cautionaries to be aware of, which include, slow moving vehicles, barrier line transgressions, pedestrians, minibus taxis and livestock on the road. The road traverses a number of rural villages, so pay attention to a variety of changes in the speed limit. This is an all weather pass which is suitable for all traffic.

The main attraction is the wonderful scenery which includes a range of vistas over the dam from the comfortable height of the ridge. If you're a fisherman, you can catch Tiger fish here.

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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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