This beautiful gravel road pass is located in the western KwaZulu-Natal highlands, close to the border with the Free State province. The pass was named after Thomas George Collings, who trekked with his wife from Oudtshoorn and was the first white person to use this route. The name is often misspelt as Collin’s Pass, and also as Colling’s Pass (with an apostrophe). The pass is subject to heavy snowfalls in winter and violent thunderstorms in summer, but generally-speaking is in a good condition. Keep a lookout for the usual array of farm animals all along the length of the pass.
Cecil Mack's Pass is located in the Northern section of KZN on the border with Swaziland. It is a rough, gravel road better suited to off-road vehicles with 4WD. This is not one for the casual weekend traveller. The pass has something of a chequered history including severe cyclone damage, military control and now, obsolesence. Please note that the road is blocked at the Swaziland border and no traffic may proceed beyond that point, other than on foot.
This superb pass is rich in South African folklore and we are fortunate to bring you the story of John Versfeld - a resourceful farmer from Bo-Piketberg who built the original pass in 3 months with only 16 farm labourers. There are two Versfeld passes in close proximity to each other. The original one lies slightly to the north-east of the current one and its path can still be seen, but it is no longer publicly accessible. Our focus is on the existing pass. The gradients of the new pass are up to good engineering standards and the road descends the mountain through a series of dizzying switchbacks. Not many people know about the pass. It's narrow and very twisty, but although it was built in 1943 and widened and tarred in 1958, it offers a bountiful of delights as it ascends or descends the mountain to Piketberg.
The Van Der Stel Pass is a fairly easy, but long, gravel road pass between Bot River and the Theewaterskloof Dam in the Overberg region. It mainly serves the farming community. The road is generally well maintained and is suitable for all vehicles. This is a fairly long pass at 17 km, but the gradients are very easy at a mere 1:145 with the steepest section near the summit at 1:6
This short and steep pass connects Gordons Bay on the R44 and Clarence Drive, with the Steenbras Dam at the top of the Hottentots Hollands mountains. This is also one of only a handful of passes in South Africa that has a hairpin bend in excess of 180 degrees. The road was built in the 1940's to service the water filtration plant near the top of the mountain. The road is restricted from the filtration plant where there are control booms and only bona-fide permit holders may proceed beyond that point. The road carries low traffic volumes, due to it's restricted nature and was purpose built to service the dam and filtration plant.
The Seweweeks Poort is probably the most beautiful 18 km stretch of gravel road anywhere in South Africa. With easy gradients, multiple river crossings, mind-boggling geology, camping and self catering accommodation all packed into an almost perfect micro-climate, this road is an absolute joy to drive or ride, as it twists and turns through every angle of the compass, as it follows the contorted bends of the river and falls entirely under the control of Cape Nature Conservation and more specifically the Swartberg and Towerkop Nature Reserves. It is also a certified Unesco World Heritage Site.
This poort is one of our Top 20 all time favourite roads. Add it to your bucket list!
An easy gravel pass with gentle gradients and rugged scenery in the heart of the Karoo on the R381, which together with the historic Molteno Pass and the small Blounek Pass, forms a trio of passes on the R381/P0058 which connects Beaufort West in the south with Loxton and the Northern Cape to the north. Two river crossings and a narrow ravine make this an interesting drive. Cautionary: The second set of bends to the left are very dangerous, with no barriers and steep drop-offs. Add very tight corners, negative banking and loose gravel and this is a receipe for a rollover down into the ravine. We recommend a speed of 30 kph through this section.
This short poort is just over 1 km in length and rises just 24 metres. It forms part of the R358 route between Bitterfontein and Loeriesfontein in Namaqualand. If you want to get away from it all - this is a good place to escape to. You might find a few cars here during the flower season of August and September, but for the rest of the year, you will probably be the only vehicle on the road. The poort is so-named after the red rocks found in the walls of the poort. It's best to add the GPS coordinates of this poort into your GPS, otherwise you will probably not be aware of it. In terms of technical complexity, this little poort is insignificant with only one minor bend and a tiny altitude variance.
The Rooinek Pass is located approximately 17 km due South of Laingsburg in the Western Cape. The pass is fairly short at 3,15 km. and only gains/loses 73 meters of altitude, giving rise to an average gradient of 1:43. It is statistically a safe pass and has it's steepest gradient at 1:9.
This very steep, high altitude, gravel pass will be remembered a long time after you have travelled it. It is located on a reasonable gravel road between Merweville (40km) to the east and Sutherland (50km) to the west. It climbs 263 meters in altitude over just 2,6 km producing an average gradient of 1:10 with the steepest sections (which are concreted) ramping up to under 1:5. Whilst a 4WD in dry conditions is not mandatory, it could be a life saver in the wet. The pass is subject to heavy winter snowfalls and offers spectacular views with steep drop-offs down cliffs of some 300 meters in height. There are some sections on this pass which have negative cross-flow. If it's snowing, this could result in a rollover. We recommend not driving this pass under snow conditions, as things get considerably worse higher up the mountain. The chances of getting help in this remote part of the Karoo are slim.
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.
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.