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The Eastern Cape

Fincham’s Neck is a minor gravel road pass located just to the south of Queenstown in the Eastern Cape. Getting to the pass from the northern side is relatively easy, but the approach from the south involves a number of twists and turns on corrugated gravel roads. The pass is named after George Thornton Zacharias Charles Fincham, who was born in Roydon, Norfolk in 1814. George emigrated to South Africa and acquired a farm in the Queenstown district in 1858, which he named after his birthplace. The farm is located on the eastern side of the pass. George died in 1889 at the age of 74, and is buried in a private cemetery on the farm itself.

 

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.



This beautiful, modern and well designed pass is situated just north of the small town of Stutterheim on the national N6 highway. The pass derives its name from the small fort and telegraph office built in 1878 towards the end of the 9th (and last) Frontier War, and which was named after General Sir Arthur Cunynghame, commander of the British forces in South Africa from 1874 to 1879. The pass presents magnificent views over the forests which abound in the area, holds no apparent dangers, and can be driven in any vehicle.

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.

This easy gravel pass can be driven in any vehicle, although like any gravel pass, things get quite slippery during and after rain. It boasts an impressive hight gain of 730m, which places it in position 20 in the biggest altitude gaining statistics. The 48 bends, corners and curves will keep you busy as each bend reveals new vistas over the citrus farms of the Gamtoos Valley and the densely wooded mountains to the east.

The road services a number of farms and provides an alternative and much more attractive route to Uitenhage. It also is the access road to the 4x4 only Antoniesberg Pass and Steytlerville and forms part of the T3 baviaanskloof Tourism Route system.

The road holds no apprarent dangers if speed limits are adhered to, but normal farming vehicles use the road frequently, so be aware of them.

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.

This fairly staight forward pass is located on the tarred N9 route between Middelburg and Graaff-Reinet in Great Karoo (Eastern Cape). It is amongst the shorter passes in South Africa at just under 2 km and it only rises and falls 80 meters. The pass was originally built by Andrew Geddes Bain in 1858.

The Baviaanskloof has 8 magnificent passes and poorts of which the Grasnek Pass is probably the best in terms of scenic beauty. It’s fairly long at 8,3 km and includes in that length an astonishing 83 bends, corners and curves which equates to one bend every 100 metres. The pass is well designed (especially considering its age) and offers a fairly reasonable average gradient of 1:11 both ascending and descending. It rises from 247m to 447m ASL on it's western ascent of 3,7 km giving rise to some stiff gradients as steep as 1:6. Views from the ridge and summit zone are beyond description. We recommend a 4DW vehicle for this pass.

If you are new to the Baviaanskloof, we recommend first watching the Orientation & Overview video

This major pass is located on the N2 national route between Grahamstown and King William's Town. It's 21 km long and has an altitude variance of 528m. The road is beautifully engineered to the point that at times drivers don't even realize they are on a major pass. There are surprisingly few bends on this pass and none of them exceed a radius of 80 degrees. One can maintain a steady speed throughout.

That said, there is time to enjoy the scenery and please note that the speed limit changes between 80 and 100 kph along several sections. As the case with all passes on national routes, increased traffic volumes create their own hazards and this pass carries plenty of heavy duty trucks, so be aware that if you end up behind one of these slow moving vehicles on the uphill sections, that you need to exercise patience and wait for a break in the barrier lines. 

Cautionary: The road has no overtaking lanes on the ascents. Be aware of minibus taxis and courier delivery vehicles who regularly flaunt the regulations.

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. 


 

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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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