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Mountain Passes

Named after the largest flightless bird in the world, the Volstruispoort (Ostrich Poort) Pass is a minor poort where the road runs between two Karoo "koppies" on the newly tarred R384 between Carnarvon (75km to the SW) and Vosburg (20km to the ENE). It only falls17 vertical meters over 4,5 km to produce a very easy average gradient of 1:264. The maximum gradient of 1:24 is reached between the two peaks.

The Verlatenkloof Pass (translates into 'Desolate Pass') is a substantial altitude gaining tarred pass on the R354/R356 some 30 km south of Sutherland in the Northern Cape. It winds its way laboriously down the Roggeveld Mountains via the Verlatenkloof. It is often still referred to in the original Dutch format of Verlatenkloof Pass, but mostly the "n" has been dropped in favour of the local Afrikaans version - 'Verlatekloof''. Either version will get you to the same pass! You will descend 668 meters in altitude over 14,4 km producing an average gradient of 1:22, with the steeper parts at 1:8. This statistic makes it the 26th longest pass in South Africa as well as 10th biggest altitude gaining pass.

The pass has one or two exceptionally dangerous corners and drivers need to concentrate the whole way down and comply with the speed limits and warning signs. The pass offers wonderful Karoo views, some clever engineering, a guest farm and the geology has been laid bare through the multiple cuttings.

This beautiful tarred pass forms part of the R27 between Vanrhynsdorp and Nieuwoudtville and was originally built and designed by Thomas Bain.  It is just under 9 km in length and climbs 595m to summit at 825m ASL,  producing an average gradient of 1:15 with the steepest sections being at l:12. This is a well engineered pass with a good safety record providing you stick to the speed limits. This is amongst the top 10 passes of the Northern Cape and is a must drive offering grand views, tight chicane style corners and lots of variety. The pass is named after Petrus Benjamin Van Rhyn - a clergyman, politician and member of parliament in the old mission settlement of Troe-Troe. The town's name was changed in 1881 to Vanrhynsdorp.

 

This beautiful and fairly major pass is located right on the border of the Northern and Western Cape between Leeu-Gamka on the N1 in the south and Fraserburg on the R353 in the north. The geology of this pass comprises both the hard weathering sandstone and the much softer mudstone. This latter layer caused many problems on this pass with rockfalls and damage to the road surface. It was completely revamped in 2006 at a cost of R11,2m. The pass is also spelt as Theekloof in the Dutch format as per the official signage. In keeping with the more popular Afrikaans version, the "h" has been dropped.

 

 

Studers Pass is a serious altitude gaining gravel pass located between Garies and the small settlements of Leliesfontein and Paulshoek in Namaqualand. The pass is the gateway to some of the finest wild-flower displays and forms part of a circular tourism route incorporating the best of Namaqualand. It is a pure and backward part of South Africa, mainly untouched by the heavy hand of progress. A place to rejuvenate your spirit.

Although this is a long pass with a big altitude variance, the average gradients are very reasonable and the pass can be driven in most vehicles, providing the weather is fair. As the case with all gravel passes, conditions can change very quickly for the worse during periods of heavy rain.

This remote gravel poort is just under 4 km long and lies in the heart of the Karoo with Sutherland about 50 km to the south and Williston 80 km to the north-east. The road serves to connect the local farming community. It only gains 69 meters in altitude to produce an average gradient of a very easy 1:55 with the steeper sections closer to the summit being at 1:10.

There are two big farms that lie to the north of the road - Snyders Post and Snyders Poort. The pass takes its name from the latter farm.

The geology is stunning as the poort is entered from the south and the cuttings made for the road reveal a natural history of the rock strata. Besides the interesting geology, this is also a very remote road that carries very little traffic, so you will be able to enjoy a sense of solitude, but be well prepared and carry enough fuel, a puncture repair kit and sundry tools in case of a breakdown - you could have a long wait. There is no cellphone reception.

This fairly minor poort is located approximately 30 km north-east of Sutherland and 75 km south-west of Fraserburg in the Northern Cape. In other words, more or less in the middle of nowhere! The 6 km long poort is gravel and is designated as the R356. It is generally maintained to a good standard and summits at 1487m ASL.

 

 

This smallish pass of 2.8 km in length lies a few kilometers south of Sutherland in the Northern Cape on the tarred R356 route. It is named after the only farm in the kloof, which is located on the left hand side (east) of the road towards the northern end of the kloof next to a small stream. This is not a major pass, but it has a fair altitude gain and few gentle turns to compliment the scenery in the kloof. It's a fairly safe road with a good track record. If it is snowing, the usual cautionaries for snow driving apply.

This 4 km poort lies in the Hantam Karoo approximately 40 km north-east of Carnarvon. It functions primarily to link the local farming community and is accessed from the R384 in the south or the R386 in the north. It only rises and falls 22 meters producing an average gradient of 1:178 (easy enough for a child in a pedal car!) with the steepest part being 1:12. There are no apparent dangers in the poort other than animals on the road. Being a poort with several streams feeding it, this poort will be subject to flooding. It is best avoided in those rare circumstances. Once upon a time, rhino's roamed this poort. The rest is sad history.....We've posted a pic on the video cover as a stark reminder of what once was.



Quaggasfontein Poort translates into 'The pass of the fountain of the Quagga'. No doubt the extinct Quagga once roamed here. It is a minor poort of just 2 km in length and only rises 32 meters in altitude to produce an easy average gradient of 1:63. There is a steeper section right at the southern entrance of the poort at 1:11. This is a gravel road in typical 'farm style' condition, but it is driveable in a normal car and there are no apparent dangers other than the usual gravel road issues of corrugations with the resultant loss of traction.

 

 



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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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