The Studtis Poort is exceptionally scenic and typical of all poorts, the gradients are very easy as the road essentially remains next to the river for most of it's length. You will be treated to towering mountains with near vertical cliffs and dense riverine vegetation. If you are able to comfortably clear the first river crossing, all of the other 8 crossings should be OK, as it is the same river and will have roughly the same amount of depth and current.
This lovely and spectacular poort on the R332 between Willowmore and Patensie links the two halves of the western section of the Baviaanskloof, covering 6,4 km and crossing over the Baviaans River nine times. In fair weather most of the main roads in the western Baviaanskloof can be driven in a normal car. Poorts are different to passes in that they usually have very gentle gradients. One of the downsides of this fact, is that water tends to remain in a poort much longer than on a pass and as a consequence, Studtis Poort is often prone to some deep-water crossings after periods of rainfall. We have two videos on offer. A completely dry traverse filmed in December 2017 and a much wetter version filmed in August 2012.
If you are new to the Baviaanskloof, we recommend that you first watch the Baviaanskloof Overview and Orientation video clip.
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 long and sometimes extreme gravel pass is located on a secondary road (the R335) in the Eastern Cape approximately 35 km north of Addo and 75 km south of Somerset East. At 27,5 km it is one of the longer passes in South Africa and traverses all four tiers of the dominant Zuurberg Mountain range. It was originally constructed by Henry Fancourt White in 1849, but White resigned during the construction phase to take up a post in parliament, leaving the project in the capable hands of the assistant roads engineer, Mr. Matthew Woodifield, whose name appears carved into a rock slab near the southern end of the pass.
The pass contains within its length 158 bends, corners and curves. As progress is made northwards, the road surface deteriorates to the point where low range and high clearance is required. Allow two hours (excluding stops) to complete the pass and be patient and careful as this is true puncture country. Changing a spare wheel on a steep incline is a risky affair, so it's better to drive slower and choose your driving lines with care.
Note ~ Due to technical reasons we were only able to film the middle section of the pass from the 10th to the 20th km.
The Swaershoek Pass (translated as Brother-in-laws Pass) is a major gravel pass located about 20 km south-west of Cradock. The pass is quite long at 8,1 km and has an altitude variance of 468m which produces an average gradient of 1:17, but there are many sections which are considerably steeper at 1:11. Despite the steep gradients and unpaved surface, the pass is well designed and is suitable for all vehicles in fair weather. The pass connects Cradock with Pearston 70 km further south.
This pass and its approach roads offer some of the best Eastern Cape scenery imaginable. Anyone willing to get a bit of dust on their vehicle will be richly rewarded travelling this route on the R337 which includes another great gravel pass much further south, called the Buffelshoek Pass.
This small 2,7 km long poort drives through the natural gap in the northern-most of the four ridges comprising the Grootrivierberge between Willowmore and Jansenville in the Karoo. Typical of a poort, the road follows the path of the Plessisrivier and there is not much gain or loss in altitude. Both start and end points are at crossings of the same river. The road is generally maintained to a reasonable condition and is suitable for all vehicles.
This steep gravel road pass is located approximately 15 km South west of Matatiele in the Eastern Cape and rises 188 vertical meters over a distance of 4,8 km through rugged mountainous scenery. The average gradient is 1:12, with some of the steeper sections at 1:4. The pass is well designed and presents few dangers, except in wet or snow conditions.
This 15,6 km gravel pass runs on the North/South axis approximately paralell (and to the West) of the tarred N10. The road mainly serves the local farming communities. Despite it's ascent/descent range of 353 vertical meters, the average gradient is a leisurely 1:44 with the steeper sections being 1:20. The pass is not a tarred pass, nor is it on the N10 as indicated by several well respected websites.
This gravel road passes is fairly long at 20,8 km. It is (as the name suggests), virtually an extension of the Tarka Pass which ends where this pass starts. The road meanders on an East-West axis, through the mountains starting at an altitude of823m and traces the course of a small river past several isolated farms, before summiting at 1343m.
Telemachus Poort (also known as Modderpoort) is located near the tiny Eastern Cape town of Jamestown, about 60 km from Aliwal North. It is named after the Telemachusspruit which tracks the pass on the western side along its southern half. The poort is quite unusual in that it consists of two distinct sections; a “poort” section which follows the stream, and a “neck” section which climbs up a hill towards its summit on the northern side.
The road is in a good condition, and should present no problems for any vehicle in all weather conditions. There are only four corners on the pass, one of which is a big loop of 120 degrees, but this curve has a very wide radius and is easily negotiated.
This beautiful pass is cut into the side of a mountain, and angles down from a high plateau in the New England area to terminate at the historic Loch Bridge over the Kraai River. This part of the world is famous for its wonderful scenery, and in this case the pass also offers up spectacular views of the reverses and the rail bridge belonging to the now-defunct railway that was built through this gorge.
The road is in a mostly good condition and is suitable for all vehicles, except perhaps in very wet weather. The pass itself is fairly substantial, with a length of 3.6 km and a height difference of 172 metres. “Tier” translated from Afrikaans means “Tiger”, but, as everyone knows, there are no tigers in Africa. The word was often used in days gone by as a name for a leopard, so a correct translation of the pass name would be “Leopard Cliff Pass”.
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.