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Mountain Passes

The Helspoort Pass is located on the tarred R350 and connects the towns of Grahamstown and Bedford. Both towns have plentiful history dating back to 1820 settler days and it is here that the British forces entreched themselves initially. There were several forts built which are still standing today. The pass has plenty of bends, corners and curves - 21 of them in total - and hardly any straight sections. It only has a small altitude variance of 67 metres and has a very comfortable avrage gradient of 1:94 with the steepest parts being at 1:28. The pass is suitable for all vehicles, but note that overtaking is difficult due to the many corners. Comply with the speed limits and obey the barrier lines and all will be well.

The Hankey Pass is a tarred road of fair quality. It connects the farming town of Hankey with the N2 Highway and Humansdorp . The Gamtoos Valley is the epicentre of the citrus farming industry in the Eastern Cape. The point where the pass starts is at the low level bridge over the Gamtoos River.

The pass is of above average length at 7,1 km and has an easy average gradient with the steepest sections being near the summit at 1:12. The road is suitable for all vehicles in any weather and although showing signs of ageing, is still in a fair condition. (2018) The road is scheduled for resurfacing and upgrading later in 2018.

Set some time aside to explore some of the historical points of interest in and around Hankey.

This gravel road pass connects the Eastern Cape towns of Hofmeyr and Burgersdorp on the R391 route. With a summit altitude above 1600m ASL and being well above the snow line, it experiences bitterly cold winters with sporadic snowfalls. The pass comprises two distinctly different sections. The first 4 km follows the banks of the Doringrivier and is much more of a poort than a pass, but things change abruptly after 4 km where the road climbs steeply along the eastern side of the ravine carved out by the Doringhoekspruit - a tributary of the Doringrivier. Here there are old stone walls protecting the drop-side of the road as the road winds steeply up the short kloof, to summit after 7,2 km at an altitude of 1640m ASL.

The road is suitable for all vehicles in fair weather, although ground clearance could be an issue. In wet weather or snow, a 4WD vehicle would be a better option. The pass is well off the beaten track and offers a sense of timelessness and isolation.

Greylings Pass is a 10 km long high altitude, gravel pass between the towns of Dordrecht in the south west and Barkly East in the north east and also serves as the main access road to the hamlet of Rossouw which lies at the foot of the pass in the south. The pass displays an altitude variance of 431m of altitude with a summit height of 1956m ASL, which is well above the snow line. It's frequently covered in snow during the winter months. In snow or very wet weather, we recommend a 4WD vehicle to drive this pass. In fair weather it is suitable for all vehicles. Although the pass has a big altitude variance, the average gradient of 1:23 is fairly easy going. 


 

The Ghwarrie Poort is located on the tarred N9 between the Karoo towns of Uniondale in the south and Willowmore in the north. The poort is 14 kms long and falls 286 meters starting from a summit height of 1024m ASL.

The Fullers Hoek Pass is a well designed gravel road pass within the Fort Fordyce Nature Reserve, starting at 556m and summiting at 1173m ASL. This produces a gradient of 1:13 with some sections being a fairly steep 1:8. The pass is surpsingly well designed and maintained to a reasonably high standard. This allows it to be driven in normal sedan vehicles in reasonable weather conditions. In heavy rain or snow conditions, a 4WD vehicle will be necessary, especially near the summit area with its sharp switchbacks and steeper gradients.

As per the official 1:50000 topographical maps, the name of this pass is usually spelled with an “s”, as opposed to the more grammatically correct “Fonteinkloof”. It is a located on the tarred R72, a coastal road which starts off on its eastern side near East London and then stretches via Port Alfred, Kenton-On-Sea and Alexandria to end on the western side at the confluence of the N2 and the N10 near Nanaga, about 50 km from Port Elizabeth. The road surface is in an excellent condition, and can be traversed in any vehicle and in all weather conditions. The pass takes its name from a farm located on the eastern side of the summit.



The Ecca Pass is located 15 kilometers north of Grahamstown on the tarred R67. The road links Grahamstown in the south with Fort Beaufort in the north. The pass has great geological and historical value. The name Ecca is of Khoi origin and means "salty or brackish river"

The pass is named after the Ecca River, which is a tributary of the Great Fish River. Andrew Geddes Bain built the road (the Queens Road as it was known) northwards towards Fort Beaufort in the early 1800's. There is a plaque in his honour at the head of the pass. Bain was also a renowned geologist and named the rock type at the foot of the pass the 'Ecca Group' - comprising 250 million old sedimentary blue shales and mudstones.

The gravel Doringnek Pass is the sequel to the Suurberg/Zuurberg Pass on the same road (R335) when travelling towards the south. It is 9,2 km long and displays an altitude variance of 387 meters to summit at 598m ASL near the Zuurberg Mountain Village. The pass has a history dating back as far as 1850. It connects Somerset East in the north with Addo / Kirkwood in the south. The road is maintained to a good standard and can be driven in any vehicle. Be careful of mountain mists and wild animals. If you intend driving the entire route, please make sure that you read up the page on the Suurberg/Zuurberg Pass, which is much more difficult and requires a 4WD vehicle with high clearance. 

The Doringnek Pass is a big gravel pass and offers 63 bends, corners and curves to keep drivers busy, plus it has magnificent scenery; a spectacular double sided cutting and an historic hotel near the summit. It can be driven in any vehicle in fair weather, but beyond the Zuurberg Mountain Inn, a high clearance vehicle is necessary. This road existed long before the Suurberg Pass was built and construction of the latter was accessed and commenced from the summit of the Doringnek Pass.

The Dontsa Pass is a 5,9 km long gravel road pass forming part of the R352 route on a western loop from the R63 in the south to the R30 in the north near Stutterheim. The pass is close to the Sandile Dam, the Hogsback mountains as well as the Gubu dam further to the east. The pass was originally built in 1857. Besides some very sharp corners and steep, unguarded drop-offs, motorists should be aware of large timber trucks which ply this pass at sometimes alarming speeds. Be ready to move out of the way at any time as this is a heavily used used road for forestry purposes.

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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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