Vyfmylpoort translates from Afrikaans into Five Mile Passage or in metric terms 'Eight Kilometre Passage' and that is exactly what it is - an 8 km poort close to the South African-Namibia border at Vioolsdrift. The scenery is mountainous and rugged, barren and cork dry as the N7 winds its way through the rugged poort carved out over the millenia by the Kowiep River, which is a typical desert river - wide and shallow and seldom has any water in it. The pass is on the national route N7 and in excellent condition. The surface is smooth and the corners and curves are wide and comfortable, allowing a steady speed to be maintained throughout. The poort has an altitude variance 172m and displays typical easy average poort type gradients of 1:50. The road is suitable for all vehicles.
Vissershok translates from Afrikaans into Fishermans Cage. This small pass has some serious gradients and connects the north-western suburbs of Blouberg (Cape Town) with Durbanville and forms part of the semi-urban M48 route. It's 4,8 km long and sports an average gradient of 1:28 with the steepest sections on the western side getting as steep as 1:7. This road has a poor safety record with many fatal accidents having occurred. The road is narrow, unevenly surfaced and has no safety shoulders. Despite these dangers, it is a perennial favourite training route for cyclists. Large numbers of heavy trucks utilise the road to access the active quarries in the valley - namely Contermanskloof and Cotswold quarries. Drive with caution.
Malanshoogte is a smallish tarred pass just north of Cape Town that connects Adderley Road in the north with the Contermanskloof Road in the south. The pass is 4,3 km long and presents an altitude variance of 110m producing an average gradient of 1:40 with the steepest sections, being on the northern side at 1:11. This is a fairly safe road with no apparent design dangers, but it should be noted that there are no safety shoulders (danger for cyclists) and some of the corners are quite sharp, so comply with the speed limits. A further hazard are many trucks accessing the quarry near the summit.
This interesting little pass is named after the Plankfontein farm, which it traverses and forms part of the R61 tarred route between Tarkastad and Cradock. It's a mixture of a pass and a poort, with the first section displaying the big pass-like cuttings, whilst the second half after the bridge near the farmstead, displays more poort like characteristics as the road mimics the course of the river down the kloof.
It takes just 4 minutes to drive the pass, which is 3,5 km long and has an altitude variance of 128m, producing a comfortable average gradient of 1:27, but the steepest part, immediately after the start and summit is quite steep at 1:8. The pass lies about 15 km north-east of Cradock and is suitable for all vehicles.
This pass lives up to it's name in every way, as it's long, packed with corners and steep gradients and more importantly it offers spectacular scenery. It connects the capital town of the Northern Cape (Springbok) with the mining town of Kleinzee and carries the road number P0745 which is a clear indicator that this was once a fairly minor road. It now falls under route number R355, which terminates at Kleinzee in the west at the coast. As Kleinzee is an important diamond mining centre, the road has been upgraded to a high quality standard to carry the heavier traffic associated with mining. At 17,5 km it's amongst the longer South African passes and whilst the average gradient pans out at a mild 1:31, there are several steeper sections at 1:8.
The Pelangwe Pass is an obscure, but extremely well engineered, tar pass situated near Ga-Nkoana in the centre of the Limpopo province. To get to the pass from the south involves some complicated routing through a densely populated rural area, so travel is slow and you will need to be extra vigilant, because of traffic, pedestrians and livestock. The approach from the north is on a gravel road which is poorly maintained, but a 4x4 is not required. The landscape surrounding the pass is very unusual, with the predominant colour of the rocks and ground being white. The pass and the small town at the northern end are named after the Pelangwe Mountain, which is in the immediate vicinity.
Dulcie’s Nek is a minor pass located in a forgotten corner of South Africa, in a triangle formed by the borders of the Eastern Cape, Free State and Lesotho. No trace can be found to indicate who the “Dulcie” was that the pass is named after. The road is tarred, is in an excellent condition, and can be driven in any vehicle. The area is the birthplace of Olive Schreiner, one of South Africa’s best-known and beloved authors, and the creator of a classic tale about pastoral life in the Karoo, “The Story of an African Farm”.
Just north of the Outeniqua mountains along the N9 national route lies a pass that very few people know exists, despite the fact the thousands of vehicles commute over the route daily. The Beveraas Kloof is formed by the north flowing Waboomskraal river that descends from the summit area of the Outeniqua Pass and is fed by at least three powerful tributaries. This lovely section of roadway is mostly overlooked compared to the limelight which inevitably goes to the nearby Outeniqua Pass. The Beveraas Kloof Pass is fairly short at 4,6 km and presents an altitude variance of only 60m producing an easy average gradient of 1:115 with the steepest parts being at 1:11. This road is technically much more of a poort than a pass. It's named after the original farm Beveraas Kloof, which is located on the western side of the road and is frequently listed with the slightly different spelling of Beverass, which is typical of how older names get changed over time to suit a local dialect.
Garieshoogte is a substantial altitude gaining pass on the N7 national route, just north of the town of Garies. It has an altitude variance of 284m over 5,7 km producing an average gradient of 1:20 with the steepest parts being at 1:11. This road is relatively new and in excellent condition. There are several deep and near vertical cuttings that provide a showcase of the local geology. The old gravel road, which follows a far more winding road just to the right of the new road can still be seen clearly from the new pass, but it is no longer publicly accessible. The pass is suitable for all traffic and holds no apparent dangers in its design.
Set amongst the brooding cliffs and magnificent mountains of the eastern Limpopo escarpment, this stunning pass comes as an unexpected and welcome surprise when travelling on the R518 between Mokopane and Marken. With 26 corners, one of which is a sharp hairpin of 160 degrees with a long bridge at its apex; a length of almost 10 km and a height gain of 415 metres, this beautiful pass could be counted amongst the top passes in the country. It is also eerily reminiscent of the Oudeberg (ouberg) Pass near Graaff-Reniet in the Eastern Cape.
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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