This substantial suburban pass is 5,2 km long and descends 435m producing an average gradient of 1:12 with the steepest parts registering in at 1:5. The road connects a wide range of suburbs, both residential and commercial with Inanda Dam and environs. Its located approximately 23 km north-west of the Durban. The pass offers some fabulous bends and even better views over the Inanda Dam.
The traverse includes 32 bends corners and curves of which 2 sections are chicane style bends which include tight hairpins of 180 degrees and another horseshoe bend of the same arc. The road is tarred and is also sometimes confusingly known as the Inanda Pass. Inanda Road traverses a different valley near this pass a little further south, so calling it Inanda Pass can only cause confusion.
This is a high crime zone, so be fully aware of your personal safety at all times and preferably drive in a group.
Here is a mountain pass at the outer edge of the scale. Most people would take one look at the state of the road surface and back off completely, but for the few hardy souls with a sense of adventure percolating in their veins, this is one of those extreme passes that need to be ticked off the list.
This is a brutally tough dead-end road, packed with large rocks and very steep gradients and provides access to a sandy bend in the Orange River about 36 km ESE (as the crow flies) from Vioolsdrif. You need to be experienced for this one and preferably drive in a group with full recovery equipment on hand.
Expect soft sand, sharp rocks and corrugations and don't be in a hurry. The road is a dead end and you have to retrace your route back to the start, when youre done enjoying the solitude of the river and the desert. This one is beyond a road less travelled.
Pella Pass does not have the same magical attraction as its sister pass, Charles’ Pass, which is just a few kilometres away to the east. It is much easier to traverse, in that a wide gravel road has been constructed, but the surface is riddled with severe corrugations which makes for an extremely uncomfortable ride. The route connects the little settlement of Pella with the water purification works on the banks of the Orange River, and, for the entire length of the pass, follows a pipeline which carries water from this plant to Pella and beyond. If you intend to traverse the circular route as described in the directions below, then a 4-wheel drive vehicle is essential, but if you do an out-and-back drive of just Pella Pass itself, then any high-clearance vehicle should be sufficient.
This is a typical pass through a low point or neck. It climbs quickly from 493m in the east to reach the 545m high summit point after 0,8 km, then follows a longer descent into the west losing 122m of altitude. The road runs along the east-west axis and be very rough due to lack of maintenance and rainfall. This is also the last pass you will traverse before reaching the Baviaans Lodge and the southern start of the Baviaans-Kouga 4x4 Trail.
The term 'meide' is Afrikaans and refers to a female servant. In this context in the previous century, the term would not have been in the slightest way derogatory, but in modern South Africa the word is seldom used and is considered offensive.
This is quite a unique pass as it holds a number of extreme statistics under its rutted gravel surface. It's a short pass at only 3.7 km but packs a staggering 55 bends, corners and curves into that length, which works out at one bend every 67 metres! There is no other pass in South Africa to equal this!
Besides the large number of corners, this pass is also steep with an average gradient of 1:14 and some very steep sections at 1:5. The scenery is fantastic as the pass follows the course of a tributary of the Nooitgedacht River, but the cherry on top of all these impressive figures is the ghoulish history of this pass, where a murder took place about 200 years ago - and it's how the kloof got it's name. There are other passes in South Africa with similar names, like Moordenaarsnek (EC) and Moordenaarspoort (NC) and Moordenaarshoogte (WC).
This interesting gravel pass is well above the national average in terms of length at 7,2 km and ascends 352 metres up the southern side of the Suuranysberg mountain to summit at 562m ASL. The pass offers excellent vistas over the Krommerivier valley, which it follows for most of it's length, and the town of Kareedouw is also visible from the pass.
The pass is peppered with 54 bends, corners and curves of which three are semi-hairpins and a further four exceed 90 degrees radius. The condition of this road can vary greatly depending on when the last maintenance was done, as well as recent rainfall. Mostly it can be driven in any vehicle in fair weather conditions.
The Suuranysberg range is about 16 km in length and runs along the east-west axis, forming the southern watershed into the Krommerivier as well as the northern watershed of the Kouga River. The range has peaks which reach a maximum height of 750m. The pass is obviously named after the mountain which it traverses.
This lovely pass decends and ascends the beautiful Kouga River valley. It of average length at 4,6 km and has a substantial altitude drop of 181m producing an average gradient of 1:25, with the steepest sections measuring in at 1:8. The pass connects the farming areas to the north of Kareedouw with the R62 and offers exceptional views over the Kouga River gorge, regardless of which direction you drive it.
At the lowest point, where the river is crossed via a low level concrete causeway, there is a beautifully sited timber chalet right on the banks of the river (built on raised pylons) which is for hire and makes for an idyllic and quiet overnight spot.
The road carries very little traffic and is also the access road to both Moodenaarskloof Pass to the east as well as Meidenek to the west and after that the start of the Baviaans-Kouga 4x4 Trail. The road is suitable for all cars, but the condition can vary considerably depending on when last maintenance was performed as well as recent rainfall.
When travelling from Sutherland to Ceres via the Tankwa Karoo, this is the first of three small passes that have to be negotiated, with the other two being Thyshoogte and Jukhoogte. The pass is moderate in all respects with an altitude variance of 172m over 3,7 km producing an average gradient of 1:22, with the steepest sections being on the eastern side near the summit where things ramp up to 1:8.
Despite the moderate statistics, there are a few dangers on this pass. There is one sharp right hand bend leading into the ravine section which has some negative cross-flow and there are also some unguarded drop-offs on the left, which would cause serious damage if your vehicle left the road. During the week you are unlikely to come across any other vehicles on this road, but over weekends it could be a little busier, when dust and overtaking suddenly become major issues. It's best not to be in a hurry on this road and take the time to stop frequently and savour the timeless beauty of the Tankwa Karoo.
This record breaking pass has rocketed into the No.1 position as the steepest pass in South Africa with an average gradient of 1:5,567 and to add to this impressive statistic is that it is gravel all the way. It's a short pass at just 2,6 km but it packs no less than 9 hairpin bends into that short distance. We recommend a high clearance 4x4 for this pass.
It's named after the peak that forms the horseshoe bend near the confluence of the Tsitsa and Tina Rivers, called Mpindweni which has a summit height of 408m. The pass presents dense indigenous bush along the first half, wherafter it breaks out into open grassland where magnificent views of the three main rivers can be seen.
This is a road that ends at the last village at the north-western end of the horseshoe bend in the Tsitsa River. Only the most dedicated pass hunters will seek this one out as it involves a long and complex route to get here - and then you have to retrace your path all the way back to Libode. But for those who dare, the rewards will be immeasurable.
This steep pass is 5,9 km long and lies just a few kilometres east of it's twin pass, the Buwani Pass. The Dungu pass is longer and has a bigger altitude variance, but both join up in a common road along the northern bank of a big loop in the Umzimvubu River, about 57 kms SSE of Mount Frere in the heart of the old Transkei region.
It forms a perfect circular loop where both these passes can be driven in tandem. The Dungu Pass has an exceptionally steep average gradient of 1:10, but some sections get very steep at 1:5. In wet weather this pass should only be tackled in a 4WD vehicle.
Panoramic scenery, steep cliffs, deeply wooded mountain slopes and birds eye views of the Umzimvubu River valley are all on the menu. There are 59 bends, corners and curves which include 2 tight hairpins and 4 corners greater than 90 degrees.
We issue our standard cautionary for all Eastern Cape rural roads, and especially those in the old Transkei area: We recommend driving this road in a small convoy of two to three vehicles in case of emergency. Be aware of personal safety at all times and make sure you leave the nearest town with full fuel tanks and that your vehicle is serviced and reliable.
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.
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.