Mountain Passes

This short pass of 1,7 km descends 99m in altitude producing an average gradient of 1:17 but it never gets steeper than 1:14. The pass falls under the category of a suburban pass and offers excellent views of the eastern side of Plettenberg Bay as well as the Keurbooms River estuary and beach zone, known as Lookout Beach.

It carries heavy traffic being on the N2 and there a number of cautionaries on offer. Be on the lookout for minibus taxis, jaywalkers, livestock, road blocks and speed traps as well as slow moving heavy trucks. This is a high accident zone, so stay sharp!

This short, minor poort is located in the southern ridges of Grootrivierberge, near Steytlerville. The poort is named after the farm over which is traverses. It's a very short poort of only 1,8 km and displays an altitude variance of 46m producing an easy average gradient of  1:39.

There are many poorts along these east-west running ridges and this is a good example of one of the smaller ones. Many of these poorts look similar due to the consistent nature of the topography, yet each one has it's own unique character. The roads here are quiet and dusty, so you will always find the time and space element, despite the relatively minor nature of the statistics.

Both the nearby towns of Willowmore and Steytlerville have fascinating histories and worth spending time in.

This substantial suburban pass is 5,2 km long and descends 435m producing an average gradient of 1:12 with the steepest parts registering in at 1:5. The road connects a wide range of suburbs, both residential and commercial with Inanda Dam and environs. Its located approximately 23 km north-west of the Durban. The pass offers some fabulous bends and even better views over the Inanda Dam.

The traverse includes 32 bends corners and curves of which 2 sections are chicane style bends which include tight hairpins of 180 degrees and another horseshoe bend of the same arc. The road is tarred and is also sometimes confusingly known as the Inanda Pass. Inanda Road traverses a different valley near this pass a little further south, so calling it Inanda Pass can only cause confusion.

This is a high crime zone, so be fully aware of your personal safety at all times and preferably drive in a group.

Here is a mountain pass at the outer edge of the scale. Most people would take one look at the state of the road surface and back off completely, but for the few hardy souls with a sense of adventure percolating in their veins, this is one of those extreme passes that need to be ticked off the list.

This is a brutally tough dead-end road, packed with large rocks and very steep gradients and provides access to a sandy bend in the Orange River about 36 km ESE (as the crow flies) from Vioolsdrif. You need to be experienced for this one and preferably drive in a group with full recovery equipment on hand.

Expect soft sand, sharp rocks and corrugations and don't be in a hurry. The road is a dead end and you have to retrace your route back to the start, when youre done enjoying the solitude of the river and the desert. This one is beyond a road less travelled.

This is a rough gravel pass so typical of this part of the Northern Cape, where the road follows a dry river bed, either in it or next to it, with fairly easy gradients through a rugged landscape of blackened rocks through a true mountain desert. The road connects the little settlement of Pella with the water purification works on the banks of the Orange/Gariep River 4,2 km to the north.

The pass displays a modest altitude variance of 86m with an easy average gradient of 1:49 with the steepest parts reaching 1:12. It might have been more appropriate naming this road Pellapoort, as the geographical layout is far closer to a poort than a pass.

The biggest issues on these roads are corrugations, soft sand and punctures. We recommend a 4WD vehicle for this one with adequate ground clearance. Travelling in these parts is best done with two spare wheels, a good puncture repair kit and the knowledge to use it (and a decent GPS loaded with T4A).

This is a typical pass through a low point or neck. It climbs quickly from 493m in the east to reach the 545m high summit point after 0,8 km, then follows a longer descent into the west losing 122m of altitude. The road runs along the east-west axis and be very rough due to lack of maintenance and rainfall. This is also the last pass you will traverse before reaching the Baviaans Lodge and the southern start of the Baviaans-Kouga 4x4 Trail.

The term 'meide' is Afrikaans and refers to a female servant. In this context in the previous century, the term would not have been in the slightest way derogatory, but in modern South Africa the word is seldom used and is considered offensive.

This is quite a unique pass as it holds a number of extreme statistics under its rutted gravel surface. It's a short pass at only 2,5 km but packs a staggering 47 bends, corners and curves into that length, which works out at one bend every 53 metres! There is no other pass in South Africa to equal this!

Besides the large number of corners, this pass is also steep with an average gradient of 1:14 and some very steep sections at 1:5. The scenery is fantastic as the pass follows the path of a tributary of the Nooitgedacht River, but the cherry on top of all these impressive figures is the ghoulish history of this pass, where a murder took place about 200 years ago - and it's how the kloof got it's name. There are other passes in South Africa with similar names, like Moordenaarsnek (EC) and Moordenaarspoort (NC).

This interesting gravel pass if well above the national average in terms of length at 7,2 km and ascends 352 metres up the southern side of the Suuranysberg mountain to summit at 562m ASL. The pass offers excellent vistas over the Kromrivier valley, which it follows for most of it's length and the town of Kareedouw is also visible from the pass.

The pass is peppered with 54 bends, corners and curves of which three are semi-hairpins and a further four exceed 90 degrees radius. The condition of this road can vary greatly depending on when the last maintenance was done, as well as recent rainfall. Mostly it can be driven in any vehicle in fair weather conditions.

The Suuranysberg range is about 16 km in length and runs along the east-west axis, forming the southern watershed into the Kromrivier as well as the northern watershed into the Kouga River. The range has peaks which reach a maximum height in the 750m range. The pass is obviously named after the mountain which it ascends.

This lovely pass decends and ascends the beautiful Kouga River valley. It of average length at 4,6 km and has a substantial altitude drop of 181m producing an average gradient of 1:25, with the steepest sections measuring in at 1:8. The pass connects the farming areas to the north of Kareedouw with the R62 and offers exceptional views over the Kouga River gorge, regardless of which direction you drive it.

At the lowest point, where the river is crossed via a low level concrete causeway, there is a beautifully sited timber chalet right on the banks of the river (built on raised pylons) which is for hire and makes for an idyllic and quiet overnight spot.

The road carries very little traffic and is also the access road to both Moodenaarskloof Pass to the east as well as Meidenek to the west and after that the start of the Baviaans-Kouga 4x4 Trail. The road is suitable for all cars, but the condition can vary considerably depending on when last maintenance was performed as well as recent rainfall.

When travelling from Sutherland to Ceres via the Tankwa Karoo, this is the first of three small passes that have to be negotiated, with the other two being Thyshoogte and Jukhoogte. The pass is moderate in all respects with an altitude variance of 172m over 3,7 km producing an average gradient of 1:22, with the steepest sections being on the eastern side near the summit where things ramp up to 1:8.

Despite the moderate statistics, there are a few dangers on this pass. There is one sharp right hand bend leading into the ravine section which has some negative cross-flow and there are also some unguarded drop-offs on the left, which would cause serious damage if your vehicle left the road. During the week you are unlikely to come across any other vehicles on this road, but over weekends it could be a little busier, when dust and overtaking suddenly become major issues. It's best not to be in a hurry on this road and take the time to stop frequently and savour the timeless beauty of the Tankwa Karoo.

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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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