The N4 is a national highway that stretches across the entire northern section of South Africa, from the Botswana border in the west, through Pretoria, to the Mozambique border in the east. Astonishingly, there are only four official passes on this road, and Magatasnek is the only one located on the western half. The pass lies just to the west of Rustenburg.
The N4 is heavily tolled, and has a reputation as a dangerous road, in particular the section between Brits and Rustenburg, where there is only a single lane in each direction for much of this route. Impatient motorists tend to overtake slow moving traffic without any regard for the road markings and signs, resulting in a number of injuries and fatalities.
This 4,27 km long tarred pass is a northern extension of the fabulous Robinson Pass and sweeps through the Brakpoort about 18 km south-west of Oudtshoorn. The road descends 144 vertical metres, producing an average gradient of 1:30 with the steepest section presenting at 1:14. There is one dangerous corner of 90 degrees where some negative cross-flow has seen several vehicles departing the road for the much rougher ground of the ravine on the right. On the sharpest part of this corner, solid concrete crash barriers have been created and judging by the many metal scrapes and paint marks on the concrete, it has already served its purpose in saving lives.
Sephton’s Nek appears to have been named after Thomas Sephton, a British immigrant that arrived in the Zeerust district in 1860. He worked as a prospector and after finding some traces of gold, was partly responsible for starting a sudden rush on what was to become the Malmani Goldfields, today called Ottoshoop. The pass is situated on the tarred R49 route between Zeerust and Kopfontein, which is the primary border post used by most South Africans when travelling by car to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. Also located along this road is Madikwe, one of the largest game parks in South Africa.
The high altitude, fertile Witzenberg Valley lies hidden in a fold of the Skurweberg mountains, about 20 km north of Ceres. The Witzenberg Pass is the tarred accesss road that starts at the summit of the Gydo Pass and ends at the southern head of this long and attractive valley. The road is well engineered and in good condition. It passes through a neck in the mountains amongst weathered sandstone formations, revealing the starkly contrasting green orchards of the valley. Not many people drive this pass as it is a dead-end, but take 10 minutes and experience this lovely mountain pass in the heart of the Koue Bokkeveld.
This pass is short, steep and dangerous. It forms a fabulous section on the N2 in the Garden Route between Sedgefield and Knysna and brings the N2 lower in altitude by 166 vertical metres to end at the crossing of the Knysna River at 1m ASL. The views are of thickly forested hillsides with excellent views of the Knysna Lagoon once on the road bridge. The pass is named after the railway station of the same name, hidden amongst the trees just to the south of the summit. The pass should be read/viewed in conjunction with the Goukamma Pass which ends where this pass starts.
The Goukamma Pass traverses the lovely green valley fed by the perennial Goukamma River with the Ganzvlei farm taking centre stage in this fertile valley. The railway line overpasses the road at the river and this is followed by a long, steep ascent up the eastern side of the valley with gradients up to 1:11. The scenery is fabulous as this is in the very heart of the Garden Route with forest and heather clad green hills topped off with tall pine forests and onyx coloured rivers.
An easy tarred pass on the N2 between Wilderness in the west and Sedgefield in the east, offering sweeping views over Swartvlei - a large semi-saline lake forming one of the many lakes in this region with the typical transparent onyx colour. The pass is 5,4 km long and descends 115m to cross the estuary via a low level bridge at sea level. The pass has several corners and some steep gradients at 1:10, but the corners are properly banked, making the road safe. Overtaking is difficult and most of the pass is controlled by double barrier lines.
The Gwaing River Pass follows the Maalgate River River pass for east-bound motorists on the N2 bypass south of George. It's a short pass and exhibits a typical river valley vertical profile, dropping 108m in altitude and rising back up to the coastal plateau to virtually the same altitude as the western start. It lies is close proximity to George airport.
This minor 4 km long pass lies close to George Airport and is essentially the drop down into the gorge of the Maalgate River (Whirlpool River) and back up the opposite side. It forms part of the modern George bypass system on the N2. There are only three minor curves on this pass, but the gradients are as steep as 1:15. The road is in good condition and there are two lanes with wide safety shoulders in either direction. There are no appartent dangers and the pass is suitable is suitable for all vehicles. Watch out for accasional cross-winds at the bridge itself and slow moving trucks on the ascents.
This is a minor pass on the N2 between Klein and Groot Brakrivier and follows the coastal hill descending continuously till the termination point at the crossing of the Great Brak River. The pass is named after the small suburb Suiderkruis (Southern Cross) just to the south of the pass. This sector of the N2 offers excellent quality roads through some of the finest Garden Route scenery and includes a number of passes both tar and gravel. For east-bound travellers on the N2, the Hoogte Pass starts where this pass ends, providing one long continuous pass of 14 km of pristine views over sun drenched beaches and Garden Route fynbos.
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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