Mountain Passes

This is one of the shortest passes on our database at just under 1 km - (881 metres to be exact), but it offers magnificent and rugged scenery, despite being so short. It's name is something of a misnomer, as the topography and statistics are those of a poort and not a pass. Judging by it's name, lions no doubt once roamed this path.

What makes this drive even more dramatic is the obvious path of the substantial river which charges through this kloof after good rain, making this road a potential death trap as can be clearly seen in the video footage. The final river crossing on the northern side is the most dangerous spot. For the vast majority of the year, the river is nothing more than a dry, stony path as this is after all, the Karoo, but every adventure traveller should know and understand that the Karoo rivers are prone to flash floods, so if the weather is looking ominous, drive with your wits about you and dont take unneccesary risks.

The Mpate Mountain looms above Dundee on the northern side of the town, and the pass is basically an access road to the host of telecommunication towers erected on its summit. Spectacular views over the town and the surrounding river valleys make this a very worthwhile traverse, as does the scenery all along the access route as the road winds its way up the side of the mountain. The gravelled section of the road is in a fairly good condition for the most part, and can be driven in any normal vehicle that has a reasonable ground clearance. This pass should be avoided in bad weather. It should not be confused with the nearby Mpate Heights Pass.

 

Venterspoort is located near Philipstown, a small town which lies about 50 kilometres north-east of De Aar in the Northern Cape. It is difficult to establish exactly which Venter the poort is named after, as this was a very common surname in the area around about the middle to latter part of the 19th century, which is when the town was established. The actual poort is almost indistinguishable from the surrounding landscape, and unless you know precisely where it is, you would probably miss it altogether when driving on the R48. The tarred road is in a good condition, and should not present any problems other than the normal hazards associated with rural South Africa.

 

Neuspoort is unusual in that it consists of two distinct sections, separated by a flat plateau in the middle. It is named after the small range of mountains through which it traverses, called the Neusberge. It is located on the N14, the national road which connects Johannesburg in the east with Springbok in the west. The road is in an excellent condition and should not present any problems, provided that the speed limits are adhered to. The route between Keimoes and Kakamas is incredibly scenic, with spectacular contrasts between the Kalahari Desert on the northern side of the road and the hundreds of green vineyards located all along the Orange River on the southern side. The western portion of this road is also locally known as Bobbejaankrans or Baviaanskrans, which both mean the same thing.

 

Duiwelsnek is located just on the outskirts of the lovely Northern Cape town of Kakamas, very close to the banks of the mighty Orange River. There is no indication on the official topographical maps as to how this pass was named, but there is a good chance that the rocky hill on the northern side of the summit is called Duiwelskop, or something similar. The road is in a good condition and should not present problems for any type of vehicle, except perhaps in wet weather. There are few hazards on the pass other than the usual livestock and farm vehicles, but beware of the local farmers that seem to drive a little faster than they should!

 

This easy gravel poort is located roughly midway between Steytlerville and Willowmore. It is the first pass or poort on this pleasant gravel road (the P1861) which is followed by a number of poorts of various lengths. The gradients are very easy through this poort, which average out at 1:178 which is about as close to flat as you can get. The road carries minimal traffic (mainly local farmers) and you will immediately experience a sense of solitude. Watch out for animals on the road - both domestic and wild animals.

The road is in reasonable condition, but like all gravel roads, it is subject to corrugations, washaways, loose gravel and flash floods. We recommend tyre deflation to 1.4 bar for improved traction, a softer ride and a reduction in the chance of getting a puncture.

This fairly easy gravel pass is well off the beaten track about midway between Kleinpoort in the east and Steytlerville in the west and bears the oddly out of character name of Seekoeinek (Hippopotamus Neck). This is in a very dry part of the Karoo and it's hard to believe that there were ever hippos in this part of South Africa. The pass is located on a secondary farm link road, the P1852, and can be used as an alternative route to get to Steytlerville via the tarred R329. The road is signposted as Haaspoort (Rabbit or Hare Ravine), which is a much more likely animal to find in these parts.

The road condition is reasonable and can be driven in any vehicle. As is the case with all gravel roads, beware of corrugations and washaways and we recommend you lower tyre pressures to 1,4 bar to improve traction and to provide a softer ride, as well as reduce the risk of punctures.

Biesiepoort is located just to the south of the N10, the national road which connects Upington with the Namibian border post at Nakop. The word “biesie” translates from Afrikaans to English as “bulrush”, but it could also refer to any of the family of reeds which are used to weave indigenous household items such as sleeping mats or wicker furniture. The poort itself, although very pretty, is quite insignificant, but the area in which it is located typifies the Kalahari landscape and is an unforgettable drive.

The road is in a good condition and can be traversed in any vehicle, although there are large patches of soft sand. Watch out for small animals such as mongooses, and be particularly careful not to run over the large monitor lizards (leguaans) which are commonly found moving slowly across the road.

 

This easy tarred pass is located on the tarred R75 route about midway between Kirkwood in the east and Jansenville in the west. It's of average length at 4,7 km and displays an altitude variance of 135m and an average gradient of 1:35 with the steepest section being near the summit at 1:9.

Strangely there are two Soutpansnek Passes on the R75 just 43 km apart. This was always going to cause confusion, so we have labelled the two passes with a suffix to separate them distinctly. This one is the Soutpansnek Pass (Wolwefontein) and the more northern one is the Soutpansnek Pass (Ravelskloof).

A long mountain curves to the south at right angles to the N2, forcing the Gamtoos River towards the Indian Ocean. To the east is a substantial kloof along which the Remkloof Pass has been built. As far as dramatic passes with multiple curves and steep gradients go, this pass is fairly docile and only hosts three very gentle corners, but the it does rise from 3m above sea level at the crossing of the Gamtoos River in the west, via a substantial climb of 206m over 5 km to summit at 209m ASL producing a mild average gradient of 1:24.

This is the N2 and the road is in good condition with triple lanes and adequate safety shoulders. It's suitable for all vehicles in all weather, but it's a busy road, so drive with that in mind.

The Gamtoos River winds its way through the Eastern Cape bushveld, providing warm, calm waters in which to swim, frolic and fish. It is a fabulous base for those exploring Port Elizabeth, Jeffrey’s Bay, Humansdorp and St Francis Bay. The vistas from the river are magnificent, and include the local farmlands, mountain ranges and coastal dunes.

 

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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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