Mountain Passes

Kruippoort, which translates as 'Crawling Passage' and probably relates to the slow speed of the original road,  is an easy tarred drive traversing the Vyversrus guest farm and game reserve off the R62 to the south-west of Ladismith in the Western Cape and forms part of the R323. The road is wide and safe and only has two gentle bends and a single small cutting near the summit, but the views of the Klein Swartberg to the north are excellent.

The poort has gentle gradients of 1:33 and follows a typical mid-summit profile. At 6,7 km it is above the national average in terms of length, and holds no apparent dangers and is suitable for all vehicles.

This scenic gravel poort is located about 10 km to the south-east of Springbok on the gravel R355 road to Loeriesfontein. It's named after the Eendoring farm near the western end of the poort. The R355 is a wide, gravel road which is generally maintained to a good standard, but it is prone to corrugations. The poort lies just south of the well known Goegap Nature Reserve and is 5,5 km long with an easy average gradient of 1:51, but there are one or two short sections where things get as steep as 1:11. The scenery is excellent, regardless of what time of year you drive along this road. The wide, sandy plains, interspered with jumbled granite peaks and ridges, perfect northern sunshine and the ubiquitous kokerbome, provides photographers with ample opportunities for great photography and for the rest - simply a place to enjoy the peace and tranquility.

This easy gravel poort meanders through a cluster of low granite hills on the R355 between Springbok to the west and Loeriesfontein which is 200 km to the south. The gradients are easy and the corners are wide, making this poort relatively safe. The only cautionaries worth noting are those of corrugations - the severity which depends on when last the road was graded - and dust. This part of the Northern Cape is seldom windy, so dust trails tend to 'hang' over the road for quite a while, which can severely reduce visibility.

At 10,3 km the poort is well above the national average and it only displays an altitude variance of 116m, resulting in a very mild average gradient of 1:89, with the steepest parts being at 1:20.

This short poort offers surprisingly beautiful scenery after the flat approaches on either side over the vast Karoo plains. The 3,2 km long poort has 8 bends, corners and curves, several of which exceed 140 degrees radius and two are very sharp, requiring a reduction in speed. The poort offers wonderful scenery of contorted and twisted rocks set amongst steep sided mountains. With an average gradient of 1:50 these are typical poort style statistics and the steepest section is a very easy 1:17. The poort is on the tarred R329 and connects Steytlerville in the south with Jansenville, Klipplaat and Wolwefontein to the north-east. 

Vyfmylpoort translates from Afrikaans into Five Mile Passage or in metric terms 'Eight Kilometre Passage' and that is exactly what it is - an 8 km poort close to the South African-Namibia border at Vioolsdrift. The scenery is mountainous and rugged, barren and cork dry as the N7 winds its way through the rugged poort carved out over the millenia by the Kowiep River, which is a typical desert river - wide and shallow and seldom has any water in it. The pass is on the national route N7 and in excellent condition. The surface is smooth and the corners and curves are wide and comfortable, allowing a steady speed to be maintained throughout. The poort has an altitude variance 172m and displays typical easy average poort type gradients of 1:50. The road is suitable for all vehicles.

Vissershok translates from Afrikaans into Fishermans Cage. This small pass has some serious gradients and connects the north-western suburbs of Blouberg (Cape Town) with Durbanville and forms part of the semi-urban M48 route. It's 4,8 km long and sports an average gradient of 1:28 with the steepest sections on the western side getting as steep as 1:7. This road has a poor safety record with many fatal accidents having occurred. The road is narrow, unevenly surfaced and has no safety shoulders. Despite these dangers, it is a perennial favourite training route for cyclists. Large numbers of heavy trucks utilise the road to access the active quarries in the valley - namely Contermanskloof and Cotswold quarries. Drive with caution.

Malanshoogte is a smallish tarred pass just north of Cape Town that connects Adderley Road in the north with the Contermanskloof Road in the south. The pass is 4,3 km long and presents an altitude variance of 110m producing an average gradient of 1:40 with the steepest sections, being on the northern side at 1:11. This is a fairly safe road with no apparent design dangers, but it should be noted that there are no safety shoulders (danger for cyclists) and some of the corners are quite sharp, so comply with the speed limits. A further hazard are many trucks accessing the quarry near the summit.

The Perdenek Pass is a moderate length pass on the winding R396 gravel route between Barkly East and Indwe. It is one of several passes along this road and the first one when approaching from the north. The others (listed from N - S) are: Greylings Pass, Killians Pass and Barkers Nek Pass. The Perdenek is named after the farm on the southern side of the summit, originally carrying the Dutch version of Paardenek. The pass is 3,9 km long and has an altitude variance of 130m, with the steepest sections reaching a gradient of 1:7.

This amazing and very different pass has a surreal feel about it and it's easy to see how it earned its name. It's barren and virtually devoid of plant life or water leaving one with a distinctly vulnerable feeling. The striking feature of this pass is the narrow valley where passing travellers have built hundreds of thousand of stone cairns along the sides of the track - a modern day ritual to ensure you have a touble-free journey over the pass.

Confusingly, there is another Helskloof Pass just 70 km to the north-west of this one on the western side of the Richtersveld National Park most famous for its endemic Helskloof aloe. We distinguish the two passes as Helskloof (Cairns) and Helskloof (Aloes) for ease of reference.

This pass is quite long at 14,4 km and has an altitude variance of 360m, producing an average gradient of 1:40. Due to the isolated nature of this pass, we recommend travelling in a small convoy of at least 2 vehicles. The pass connects Eksteenfontein in the south with Noordoewer and Vioolsdrif in the north. We recommend a high clearance 4x4 and two spare wheels. Please carry emergency drinking water with you.

This interesting little pass is named after the Plankfontein farm, which it traverses and forms part of the R61 tarred route between Tarkastad and Cradock. It's a mixture of a pass and a poort, with the first section displaying the big pass-like cuttings, whilst the second half after the bridge near the farmstead, displays more poort like characteristics as the road mimics the course of the river down the kloof.

It takes just 4 minutes to drive the pass, which is 3,5 km long and has an altitude variance of 128m, producing a comfortable average gradient of 1:27, but the steepest part, immediately after the start and summit is quite steep at 1:8. The pass lies about 15 km north-east of Cradock and is suitable for all vehicles.

Mountain Passes South Africa

Our website is 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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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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