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Mountain Passes

Over a distance of 7.6 km, the tarred Rooihoogte Pass displays 370m of altitude variance, with a comfortable average gradient of 1/20. Literally a stone's throw along the same road is Burgers Pass, formerly known as Koo Pass. Both of these passes were first designed by master road engineer, Thomas Bain in 1877.

The Rooihoogte Pass was originally known as Thomson's Pass and together with the Koo pass, both received name changes in the 1940's. This is reputed to be the pass with the highest summit altitude in the Western Cape. The pass is more enjoyable driving it in the descending mode with huge views over the rugged Langeberg mountains.

Originally known as the Koo Pass (serving the fruit-growing region known as the Koo Valley), it was renamed after a local town councillor, Mr. Burger, who expended a lot of energy to influence the authorities to upgrade the road. 'KOO' products have stocked the cupboards of South African families for over 80 years'! 

The pass was originally plotted byThomas Bain and constructed by the Divisional Council in 1876, when construction stopped due to a lack of funds and was finally completed in 1887 at a cost of 1000 Pounds Sterling.

Despite the modern engineering this pass has a combination of dangers - from long momentum gathering straights, to very sharp corners. Drive this one with a sense of vigilance. 
 

Clarence Drive is a magnificent scenic coastal drive between the windswept hamlet of Rooi-Els and the naval town of Gordons Bay, which nestles in the north-eastern crook of False Bay in the shadow of the Hottentots Hollands mountains. This beautiful, coastal drive stretches between the two towns over 21 km, hugging the wild turquoise Cape coastline all the way. If you like passes with lots of corners, then this one is for you, as it contains 77 bends, curves and corners of which four are in excess of 150 degrees. The road is in a beautiful condition and attracts tourists, locals, bikers and cyclists in their droves. Overtaking is fairly limited and in general one can expect to average well below 60 kph.

  

The rough gravel surfaced Wildeperdehoek Pass forms part of the Caracal Eco Route in the Namaqua National Park, with the the grassy flats of Namaqualand lying to the west and glimpses of the coast beyond. The 4,8 km pass is around 120 years old and has reasonable average gradients of 1:20

('Wildeperdehoek' roughly translates as 'wild horses corner'.) This pass is not suitable for vehicles lacking ground clearance. The pass was originally named Wildepaardehoek in the old Dutch style, but is today more commonly referred to in the Afrikaans version. This pass should be viewed in tandem with the Messelpad Pass as they are inseparably linked, both geographically and historically.

Some locals also refer to this pass as the Bandietpas, which translates into Convict's Pass.

Houw Hoek Pass was built shortly after Sir Lowry's Pass was completed in 1833. The distance between the two passes is approximately 25km and covers some beautiful mountainous terrain. This middle section was known as Coles Pass - so named after the very same Sir Lowry Cole. The name Houw Hoek translates into 'Hold Corner' and is derived from the need to hold back, or slow down the ox-wagons whilst negotiating the steep descent down the pass.

This major 10 km long tarred pass lies on the R58 between Elliot and Barkly East in the high mountains of the Eastern Cape at an altitude of 2018m at the summit. The pass displays an altitude variance of 572m which converts into an average gradient of 1:17 which is moderately steep. This pass is subject to winter snow closures. Look out for the country style hotel (Mountain Shadows) at the top of the pass where you can catch up with some of the local history and experience true country style hospitality.



 

All Saints Neck is located on the outskirts of Engcobo (also sometimes spelled as Ngcobo), a small town in the Eastern Cape between Queenstown and Mthatha on the R61. The pass is named after the All Saints mission station, which was founded in 1860 and which is located to the north of the pass, about 8 km from the town. The road has been refurbished and upgraded and is in an excellent condition, but as always in the Eastern Cape, care must be exercised when driving this pass due to the abundance of traffic, pedestrians and animals in the roadway.

The Sudwala Pass is located in Mpumalanga province on the tarred R539 between Sudwala Caves and Lydenburg.  It starts at its northern side at 1072m ASL and rises to 1223m, descending again to 996m. The total length of the pass is 8,93 kms producing an easy gradient of 1/39 with the steepest sections presenting at 1:14. The road is suitable for all vehicles and offers easy sweeping curves with perfect Lowveld scenery. It also gives access to the Sudwala Caves and Resort a further 7,3 kms south of the pass.

 

This gravel pass traverses the Drakensberg and is strictly a 4x4 track, which connects surrounding farms to the east of Harrismith in the Free State with farms in the KZN Highlands near Dundee and Newcastle. The route traverses private land and requires the consent of the land owners. Together with Rogers Pass and Keays Pass the three passes ascend and descend the Drakensberg over some tough tracks making for a challenging 4x4 circuit. Not much information is known about Brandons pass and very few people have driven it.


 

Chunie's Poort is located on the tarred R37 road, about 40 km south of Polokwane (formerly known as Pietersburg). There are various spellings of the name, including Chuene and Tshwene, which translates as “Baboon”, but most sources and the signboards use the spelling as shown above. The pass follows the course of the Tudumo River, which flows southwards out of the Chuniespoort Dam. At the northern end, the river has cut its way through a narrow gorge, and an unusual feature of this pass is that the bridge over which the road is built does not cross the river, but parallels its path through this gorge, directly above the water.

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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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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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