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Mountain Passes

This straight forward north/south traverse over a natural neck is 6.4 km long and climbs 193m producing an average gradient of 1:33. It lies on the tarred R36 between Ohrigstad and Lydenburg,  The pass boasts a lofty summit altitude of 1411m but there are no apparent dangers or cautionaries for this pass other than mist at any time of the year and smoke during the fire season. At the time of filming (April 2018) the R36 was in a state of disrepair with patchy tar and many potholes. The pass straddles the border between Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

 

 

The aptly-named Skurweberg (“Rough Mountain”) Pass winds its way down the upper Drakensberg escarpment between Machadodorp and Badplaas in Mpumalanga. The pass is much-loved by motorcyclists due to the curvy nature of the road, but it does have one or two corners which can be dangerous at high speed. It is relatively steep with an average gradient of 1:17 and descends a total of 448 metres, but the tarred road surface is good and free of potholes. Keep an eye out for monkeys and baboons, as well as domestic livestock. The pass can be driven in any vehicle and in all weather conditions.

 

 

The N4 is a national highway which connects Pretoria in the west with Nelspruit and Komatipoort in the east. Soon after passing Machadodorp, the road splits into two and offers travellers a choice of routes, both of which are wonderfully scenic drives. The southern route (designated as the N4) bypasses Waterval Boven then plunges down Elands Pass and on towards Ngodwana; the northern route (designated as the R36/R539) traverses a series of four separate passes, which are, in order from west to east, Crossroads Pass, De Beersnek, Patatanek, and lastly Schoemanskloof Pass. The roads, which are almost exactly of equal length (62 km) and which are both in excellent condition, join up again near Elandshoek and Montrose, about 30 km from Nelspruit.

 

At 17,5 km the Santa Pass is one of the longer passes in South Africa. It is also a high aItitude pass with many sections being above 2000m. It is named after the Santa forestry settlement in the first valley on the western side, through which the pass traverses. It's a tarred pass on the R540 between Dullstroom 15 km to the SW and Lydenberg 45km to the north. The pass descends 396m to produce an average gradient of an easy 1:44 with the steepest parts being at 1:10. There are no warnings or cautionaries for this pass.

 

 

This long tarred pass offers diverse scenery through an area steeped in history and of course, stories of robbers of those who found gold in the area. There is the famous Robbers Grave which can be visited near the pass at Pilgrims Rest - a village inextricably linked to the pioneering days of the discovery of gold. Once a flourishing town, it is today a small village offering tourists a glimpse into a bygone era. Pilgrims Rest and the aptly named Robbers Pass are historically bound like a set of twins.

This is a long pass of 20,6 km which includes a summit height of 1789m ASL and 68 bends, corners and curves to keep drivers honest. The usual cautionaries apply which include heavy mountain mists, high rainfall, logging and mining trucks, potholes and impatient drivers who disobey the barrier lines.

Nelshoogte, also known as Nelsberg Pass, is located on the tarred R38 road between Barberton and Badplaas in Mpumalanga. It was named after Louis Johannes Nel (1821 – 1860), the father of the three Nel brothers that founded Nelspruit, when he procured the farms Doornhoek and Goedehoop at the foot of the mountain.

The road is in a good condition and is suitable for all vehicles. The are very few hazards on this pass, except for occasional logging vehicles and slow-moving trucks. Wonderful views over the Nkomati Valley are presented, particularly when traversing the pass from east to west.

 



 

The Mpageni Pass, together with it's tandem pass, the Bouldersberg Pass forms the bulk of the old Nelspruit-Kaapmuiden road. It is a narrow tarred road [D286] that traverses the Crocodile Poort Nature Reserve. It climbs 472 vertical meters over a distance of 10,2 km to produce an average gradient of 1:22, with some sections as steep as 1:8.

The pass terminates 2,5 km before the western starting point of the Bouldersberg Pass (after the summit plateau). Watch out for wild animals, especially at night and it should also be noted that there are two control booms, where you have to sign in and out. There is no charge for entry into the reserve, but you will be required to produce your drivers licence and it will be scanned as will your vehicle's licence disc. This is an anti-poaching initiative.

The Montrose Pass is a short tarred pass on the N4 approximately midway beween Ngodwana and Nelspruit. The highlight of the pass is a stop at the Montrose Falls where there is a small hotel and where you can see the Crocodile River plunging over a solid rock sill. The pass only rises 61m over a distance of 3,74 km producing an average gradient of an easy 1:61, but there are steeper sections at 1:10 just before and after the summit.

 

 

This big gravel pass traverses the Mokobulaan Nature Reserve and gains 625m over 19 km to produce an average gradient of 1:30. It has some fairly steep sections at 1:8. There are 48 bends, corners and curves crammed into it's 19 km length, so sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery at a leisurely pace. There are a number of cautionaries for this road which include thick mountain mists, heavy rain, slippery and muddy sections, deep ruts and washaways, logging debris on the road and the presence of heavy logging vehicles on weekdays.

The pass connects Lydenburg in the north with the N4 in the south and follows a similar direction as the Long Tom Pass some 20 km to the north. It has a summit height of 1921m ASL producing sweeping views over the valleys and kloofs. This pass should be viewed/read in conjunction with the Wonderkloof Pass which follows it on the southern side on the same road.

This is undoubtedly the most famous pass in Mpumalanga - and with good reason too. It is 26,2 km long (and even longer depending on where one starts measuring), plus it displays an altitude variance of 671 vertical meters through a complex network of curves as it ascends up the Drakensberg escarpment between Sabie in the east and Lydenburg in the west. The pass forms part of the Mpumalanga Panoramic Route and carries appropriately heavy traffic - both tourist and commercial. It is prone to heavy mist and can be dangerous in low visibility conditions. It is named after the famous Long Tom cannon.

With 66 bends, corners and curves and a fairly easy average gradient of 1:39 and no part being steeper than 1:10 this pass is a magnificent spectacle with grand views and rugged frontier and Anglo-Boer War history adding to its allure.

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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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