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Brakkloof Pass (P1882)

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The Kouga River flows through it The Kouga River flows through it - Photo: Trygve Roberts / MPSA

The Brakkloof Pass is a mixture of a poort and a mountain pass. It's a fairly long one at just under 13 km and despite the easy average gradient of 1:65, there are some very steep sections at 1:5, especially near the southern end on the approach and descent to the Kouga River valley, which will probably create traction issues for non 4WD vehicles in wet weather. The pass has to be driven in tandem with the Kouga-Kleinrivier Pass which lies further to the west. The two passes together form a wide loop with Joubertina as a start and end point. Allow two hours to do the loop excluding stops.

The kloof is extensively farmed so the usual cautionaries apply of expecting livestock, pedestrians and slow moving farming vehicles on the road. Visually this is a lovely road to explore and note that there are many cattle grids, which are best crossed at 30 kph. The pass is located about 33 km to the ENE of the farming town of Joubertina off the R62 route through the fruit farming region known as Die Langkloof.

Scroll down to view the map & video. It is recommended to watch this video in HD. (Click on the "quality" button on the lower taskbar of the video screen and select 720HD.) Wait a few seconds for the video to display.....

 

[Video cover photo - Trygve Roberts]

FULL-SCREEN MODE: Click PLAY, then pass your mouse over the bottom right corner of the video screen. The outline of a square will appear. Clicking on it will toggle Full Screen Mode. Press ESC to return to the original format.

Note: Google Earth software reads the actual topography and ignores roads, cuttings, tunnels, bridges and excavations. The Google Earth vertical-profile animation generates a number of parallax errors, so the profile is only a general guide of what to expect in terms of gradients, distance and elevation. The graph may present some impossible and improbably sharp spikes, which should be ignored.

 

Digging into the details:

Getting there: To approach from the north (the direction which we have produced it), take the turnoff to the north 2 km east of Joubertina at GPS S33.817972 E23.841150. Remain on this road for 35 km traversing the Kouga-Kleinrivier Pass and Brandhoek to arrive at the northern start.

To approach from the south, head east on the R62 from Joubertina for 10 km and turn north onto a gravel road at GPS S33.854464 E23.985277. Remain on this road for 11 km to arrive at the southern end of the pass.

The pass starts at the Braamrivier farm / Photo: Trygve Roberts/ MPSA

From the northern start the road begins descending gently into the south east at the Braamrivier farm. To the left there is a deep gorge visible in the mountainside, which bears the attractive name of Skilderkranskloof. This wider section of the Brakkloof is intensively farmed for the first 4,5 km passing through the farms of Twannie, Aangenaam and Rooidam. Most of the agricultural activity here is fruit farming. Dust on the farmers crops is an ongoing problem, so please be mindful of this and drive at a speed that will create minimum dust levels. Towards the end of this wider section two deep gorges are visible on the left (north). The first one is Brakkloof (after which the pass is named) and the second one is named Ghwarriekloof, after the ghwarrie bush which is endemic to the region.

 

[Video cover photo - Trygve Roberts]

From the 4,5 km mark, the mountains start closing in as the narrower part of the kloof is reached. The road follows the shape of the kloof via a big S-bend, then changes heading directly into the east for the next 3,5 km, all the while still descending at a gentle gradient. The scenery becomes more natural and rugged as the road crosses and recrosses the Braamrivier four times.

Old farmhouse in the BrakkloofEnjoy the isolation inside the kloof / Photo: Ralph Pina

At the 8,2 km point, as the road curves through a big right hand curve, there is a Y-junction. The road joining in from the north is a dead-end and is a feeder road serving four farms, of which the major one is called Opkoms. With the direction into the south, the road remains in the kloof, faithfully following the course of the river. Another stream, the Opkomsrivier, flows along the next valley to the north-east to form a confluence with the Kouga River about 5 km further to the south-east.

From this point the road begins climbing steeply up the northern side of the mountain ahead. The gradients get steep on both sides of this mountain and in wet weather it might prove tricky in a non 4WD vehicle.

At the 11,4 km point, the summit is reached at 480m ASL where you can enjoy spectacular views over the Kouga Valley. Just after commencing the descent, at the 11,8 km point, there is yet another Y-junction. This road leads for many kilometres over the mountains to terminate at the Baviaans Lodge which is the starting point of the Baviaans-Kouga 4x4 Route. Our research has revealed that the owner of the farm to the west of Baviaans Lodge has locked all the gates on his property, so if you decide to venture east and explore this side track, you will have to backtrack all the way to this Y-junction, unless you can sweet-talk the farm owner into unlocking the gates for you.

On the far side of the river, another two clefts are visible. the one to the right (west) is also called Brakkloof (as if in confirmation that this is the most appropriate name for this pass) and the one to the left (east) is called Diepkloof.

If you get out of your vehicle a few hundred metres and peer down the steep drop-offs, you'll get a birds-eye view of the Kouga River and directly below you is a weir. If the weather is warm and you're looking for a place to take a dip, any point where you can get access to the river will provide welcome relief from the heat. Even the final bridge makes for easy access to the water.

 

[Video cover photo - Trygve Roberts]

With the road heading west for the first time, the road drops steeply down the southern flank of the mountain via 7 sharp bends, corners and curves, including one very tight hairpin bend near the bottom, which lines the road up to cross the Kouga River at right angles. 

You are now faced with a stiff climb up the southern side of the river valley via a single switchback with a wide 180 bend. The road gradually straightens out where the pass ends at the top of the next hill.

Continue heading south for a further 11 km to intersect with the tarred R62 to the east of Joubertina.

Expect livestock on this pass / Photo: Philip Wantling

Joubertina is a small town on the Wabooms River in the Langkloof, some 50 km north-west of Assegaaibos, 70 km south-east of Avontuur and 213 km from Port Elizabeth. Joubertina was founded and introduced into the Langkloof community in 1907. Having secured a portion of the farm Onzer, in between the villages of Krakeel and Twee Riviere (both founded in 1765), a property development was launched there under the initiative of the Dutch Reformed Church. As the sale of erven around a newly erected church building gradually got underway in 1907, the future town was named in honour of W A Joubert, minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in Uniondale between 1878 and 1893.

The town has a station on the narrow gauge Avontuur railway.


Fact File:

GPS START 

S33.739431 E23.961529 

GPS BRIDGE S33.788606 E24.025415
GPS END  S33.801973 E24.011589
AVE GRADIENT 1:65
MAX GRADIENT 1:5
ELEVATION START 503m
ELEVATION BRIDGE 330m
ELEVATION END 528m
HEIGHT GAIN/LOSS 198m
DISTANCE 12,9 km 
DIRECTION - TRAVEL South-East
TIME REQUIRED 25 minutes
SPEED LIMIT 60 kph
SURFACE Gravel
DATE FILMED 01.02.2020
TEMPERATURE 25C
NEAREST TOWN Joubertina (33 km)

Route Map:

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Route files:

||Click to download: Brakkloof Pass - (Note - this is a .kmz file, which can be opened in Google earth and  most GPS models)   

 

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