Just north of the Outeniqua mountains along the N9 national route lies a pass that very few people know exists, despite the fact the thousands of vehicles commute over the route daily. The Beveraas Kloof is formed by the north flowing Waboomskraal river that descends from the summit area of the Outeniqua Pass and is fed by at least three powerful tributaries. This lovely section of roadway is mostly overlooked compared to the limelight which inevitably goes to the nearby Outeniqua Pass. The Beveraas Kloof Pass is fairly short at 4,6 km and presents an altitude variance of only 60m producing an easy average gradient of 1:115 with the steepest parts being at 1:11. This road is technically much more of a poort than a pass. It's named after the original farm Beveraas Kloof, which is located on the western side of the road and is frequently listed with the slightly different spelling of Beverass, which is typical of how older names get changed over time to suit a local dialect.
Garieshoogte is a substantial altitude gaining pass on the N7 national route, just north of the town of Garies. It has an altitude variance of 284m over 5,7 km producing an average gradient of 1:20 with the steepest parts being at 1:11. This road is relatively new and in excellent condition. There are several deep and near vertical cuttings that provide a showcase of the local geology. The old gravel road, which follows a far more winding road just to the right of the new road can still be seen clearly from the new pass, but it is no longer publicly accessible. The pass is suitable for all traffic and holds no apparent dangers in its design.
This steep gravel pass traverses the farm with the unusual name of Bloedsmaak (The taste of blood) and climbs 185m over 2 kms to summit at 695m ASL producing a stiff gradient of 1:5 on the steeper sections. The locals only refer to this pass as the Bloedsmaak Pass (or more peotically in the unique style of the Namaqualanders) - Bloedsmaak se Hoog. Ask them about a Skuinshoogte Pass and you will get a negative response. The condition of the road is generally quite good and it should be noted that there are two farm gates to open and close. This pass will need to be traversed by anyone intending to drive the Langkloof Pass, which starts very close to where this pass ends. The pass is located about 12 km east of Garies on a minor gravel road - the P2943. It is suitable for all vehicles, although in very wet weather it could be problematic for non 4WD vehciles near the summit.
Set amongst the brooding cliffs and magnificent mountains of the eastern Limpopo escarpment, this stunning pass comes as an unexpected and welcome surprise when travelling on the R518 between Mokopane and Marken. With 26 corners, one of which is a sharp hairpin of 160 degrees with a long bridge at its apex; a length of almost 10 km and a height gain of 415 metres, this beautiful pass could be counted amongst the top passes in the country. It is also eerily reminiscent of the Oudeberg (ouberg) Pass near Graaff-Reniet in the Eastern Cape.
Sefateng Sa Mokgoba, which means “Place of Mokgoba” or more literally “Tree of Mokgoba”, is a long gravel road poort near Marken on the Limpopo plateau. It is one of the very few official passes in South Africa which does not have an English or an Afrikaans name. The pass bisects the eastern part of the Masebe Nature Reserve in a north-south direction, but access is not restricted as this is a public thoroughfare. The road is in a reasonable condition, but is plagued by washboard corrugations, soft sand sections and a loose surface, which would make this a nightmare for adventure motorcyclists.
The Matroosberg 4x4 is arguably one of the most popular off-road routes in the Western Cape and is without question the most popular route to access snow in winter. Matroosberg originally received its name due to a rock formation visible from the Hex River Valley and N1 highway. This rock formation, about three quarter of the way up the mountain, shows a very distinct pinnacle, which is the “Matroos” (the Afrikaans for ‘sailor’) alongside his ship. “Berg” is the Afrikaans for ‘mountain’. Therefore “Matroosberg” roughly translated means ‘sailor mountain’. The road climbs 993m over 8,8 km to summit at 2230m ASL. For those wanting to reach the true summit, it involves a short walk to the beacon (2250m). The average gradient is a very stiff 1:9 with some sections being at 1:3. This route is currently rated as a Grade 4 in terms of difficulty, with the final few kilometres above the Groothoekkloof Canyon viewsite being a Grade 5. This route is not recommended for novice off-road drivers.
The village situated near this pass is called Skrikfontein (“Fright Fountain”), so it is quite possible that the name of the pass has been misspelt, and should be in fact be “Skrikfontein Se Nek”, but all official sources use the given name. “Strik” translates as “snare”, and given the high wildlife population in the area, this could just as easily be correct. The road, which bisects the Masebe Nature Reserve, is in a fairly good condition, but there are one or two sections near the summit which have been heavily eroded, therefore necessitating the use of a high clearance vehicle.
This is an easy tarred pass on the R357 main route between Nieuwoudtville in the south and Loeriesfontein in the north. The pass is fairly short at 2,8 km and has an altitude variance of 118m, producing a moderate average gradient of 1:24 with the steepest section near the summit as steep as 1:10. The road surface was good at the time of production in June 2016 and the pass holds no obvious dangers. It is suitable for all vehicles, subject to fine weather and speed limits and barrier lines being adhered to.
When you're on your way to Rhodes and heading for the major gravel passes in this mountainous part of the Eastern Cape, this is the first little pass that gets you off the R58 main route and into the remoter part of the southern Drakensberg. From here you won't see tar again for a long time.
At 5,7 km the pass is of moderate length, and it has an equally moderate altitude variance of 156m. The steepest parts are at 1:9 and should present no problems for any type of vehicle in fair weather. However, with a summit altitude of 2088m ASL this pass is regularly smothered under a thick blanket of snow. It's best avoided under those circumstances. On the day of filming, after heavy rain, the road was slippery requiring 4WD.
Jakkalskuilnek (“Jackal Den Pass”) is a rough and tough 4x4 pass located on the eastern Limpopo escarpment. The official guide to points of interest in this area, the Waterberg Meander, lists the name as Elandskuiling Pass, but all other references use the given name. Although the pass appears to be fairly innocuous based on its statistics, it is definitely worth your while to make the effort to seek it out, provided that you are driving an appropriate vehicle.
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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