Vlieepoort, also commonly referred to as Vliegepoort, is located in the Crocodile River valley to the west of Thabazimbi. The Crocodile River originates in the Witwatersrand area and flows in a northerly direction, via the Hartbeespoort Dam, until it joins up with the Marico River on the Botswana border. Here it forms the Limpopo, which was popularized by Rudyard Kipling as “the great grey-green greasy Limpopo River” in his short story The Elephant’s Child. Like most other poorts, Vlieepoort is fairly flat and has a height gain of just 42 metres, but it is much longer than the national average at over 12 kms. The road surface is gravel, but it is generally in a good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, weather dependant.
With a height gain/loss of just 14 metres, Sandrivierspoort is one of the flattest passes in our database. Located near Thabazimbi, in the north-western region of the Limpopo province, the poort is situated in a wide valley at the confluence of the Sondagsrivier and the Sandrivier. Once referred to as a “remote and pestilent corner of Africa”, the region went through a boom period after the disappearance of the Tsetse and the discovery of iron ore deposits. This gravel poort is just 3.8 kilometres long, and can be driven in any vehicle, weather dependent.
Although this pass appears to have been named after the now extinct Quagga, which died out in South Africa at the end of the 19th century, it is far more likely that it was named after Burchell’s Zebra, a plains zebra which is often colloquially called the Kwagga. The Quaggas habitat never extended north of the Vaal River, whereas the zebra was, and still is, common in this area. This gravel pass is just 3.3 kms long, and has a mild average gradient of 1:25. The pass and the approach roads are generally in a good condition, and should present no problems for any type of vehicle, weather dependant.
“Die Noute” translates directly into English as “The Narrows”, and this pass is probably named as such because it climbs up the mountains through a narrow kloof. But the term is often used idiomatically in Afrikaans, as in “as jy in die noute beland” which loosely translates to “if you have to tighten your belt”, so it could also refer to hardship and trouble. The pass is just 1.1 kms long and has a height difference of only 36 metres, but it traverses neatly through dense riverine forest, and in some ways is briefly reminiscent of the 7 Passes road between Knysna and George.
This well hidden gravel pass lies in the southern sector of the Northern Cape in an area knows as "Die Hantam" about 40 km north-east of Nieuwoudtville. It is primarily a farm road and offers not only unusual and rugged scenery, but provides a sense of peace and timelessness in this sparesely populated region of South Africa. The biggest attraction to drive this pass is that it descends through an astonishing Quiver Tree (Kokerboom) forest - probably the densest population of Kokerbome anywhere in South Africa. The best time to visit is in late winter and spring when the landscape is a riot of colour as far as the eye can see.
This easy gravel pass of 5 km descends towards the N7 at Trawal on the western side of a long ridge like mountain known as Fonteintjiesberg with a substantial altitude gain/loss of 323m, offering lovely views over the Tierpoort with the Gifberg Mountain in the far distance. This is a quiet farm road with low traffic volumes. The road is suitable for most vehicles, but it can get quite sandy during the long, hot summer months, which will affect traction. This road provides a wonderful alternative to the N7 for the less hurried traveller who enjoys gravel road driving.
This is an easy gravel poort in the heart of the Sandveld potato growing region that connects a range of local farms. It has a minor change in altitude and a single S-bend in the middle of the poort. Typical of a poort, it sports an easy average gradient of only 1:30 and the steepest section is a mild 1:16. The road is suitable for all cars, bearing in mind that gravel roads can change quickly in wet weather. In the dry season, the road is subject to corrugations, so adjust your speed accordingly. The road runs through a gap on the southern side of the Heerenlogement mountain, which plays host to the famous 18th century traveller's cave of the same name.
A steep and winding gravel pass over the Kraaiberg mountain which forms the southern barrier to the Biedouw Valley. The road connects the Biedouw Valley with the higher altitude farms to the south and east. Some of the gradients are steep and there are three hairpin bends to contend with. We would not recommend driving this pass in a normal car, but a high clearance 'bakkie' will manage, except in very wet weather. There are long sections on this pass which are very stony, which will present problems for low clearance cars.
This pass also marks the western end or start of the Old Postal Route, which is covered fully as a separate entry on this website. Anyone wanting to drive the Old Postal Route should take the hyperlink to get all the information necessary to safely complete the route.
This fairly long gravel road pass connects the Moravian village of Goedverwacht with Bo-Piketberg and is a delight to drive for its exquisite scenery and remote feeling. It lies on the western flank of a big valley formed between two mountain ranges to the west of Piketberg. At the foot of the pass lies the pretty missionary village of Goedverwacht which offers a fascinating look into the region's history. The pass is 8,6 km long and sports an average gradient of 1:16 with a few short sections as steep as 1:5. The pass is not suited to normal cars. We recommend a vehicle with decent ground clearance, especially over the first 2 km near the northern summit. Several internet references quote this pass as being called "Klok se Poort". This is incorrect as Klok se Poort is a hiking trail that ascends the eastern flank of the valley and is not doable in a vehicle.
This scenic pass of 4,16 km descends through the attractive Diepkloof - a hidden kloof in the Swartberg and Skimmelberg mountains a few kilometres due west of the N7 and the Olifants River Valley approximately halfway between Citrusdal and Clanwiliam. The pass has some very steep gradients of 1;5 but these only last for short distances and will not present many problems for normal cars. The road does have some very sharp corners though, where caution needs to be exercised. This is a connecting farm road with low traffic volumes and offers a sublime drive for the less hurried traveller who enjoys gravel road driving. Best time to visit is June through to October.
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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