When approaching Olifantsnek from the south, it is said that part of the mountain overlooking the dam looks like the head and trunk of an elephant, hence the name. Alternatively, it is quite possible that herds of wild elephant would have roamed this area long ago. It is the most westerly point of the “3 Dams” route, which is very popular with the motorcycle set as a breakfast run (the 3 dams being Hartbeespoort, Buffelspoort and Olifantsnek). This little pass is just 1.8 km long and gains only 39 metres in height, but what is lacks in statistics it makes up for in scenic beauty.
This beautiful pass, which is situated midway between Clarens and Fouriesburg in the eastern Free State, is well-known and much-loved by motorists and motorcyclists alike. The road surface is extremely good, the corners are cambered correctly, and the views over the entire length of the pass, in particular near the summit, are breathtaking. This is also the location of one of the most defining moments of the Anglo-Boer War, after which this pass is named.
This beautiful little pass has nothing special about it in terms of length or altitude gain, except for one thing – it is situated inside the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Nestled within the crater of an extinct volcano, Pilanesberg is an area of great scenic splendour and richly diverse wildlife, with a history extending way back prior to the Iron Age. The pass is located in the south of the park on the tarred road which dissects the reserve from north to south, called Kubu Drive. The road surface has deteriorated a little over the past few years, but it is safe and straightforward, and suitable for all vehicles.
Zilkaats Nek is sometimes also spelled as Silkaatsnek. It runs on the NW-SE axis through a low point in the Magaliesberg range and connects Pretoria and its outlying suburbs with Brits. The pass is straightforward with two gentle curves but it is fairly steep near the summit as well as on the south-eastern descent. Although the average gradient presents at a mild 1:36. the steepest gradient is 1:6 which will definitely tax some of the smaller engined cars in the rarified Highveld air.
Located along a natural poort through the Magaliesburg close to Pretoria, it forms part of the R80 highway. The poort is short at just over 2 km, but climbs quickly through 76m of altitude producing gradients of 1:10. The road connects many outlying suburbs to the north of the Magaliesberg with the city of Pretoria.
The low, rocky ridge that separates downtown Johannesburg from the northern suburbs is called Linksfield Ridge. One of the roads that connects these two areas is called Sylvia's Pass. It is on record as being the shortest official pass in South Africa, but is nontheless quite steep along most of its length. The road forms part of the M33 suburban route and conencts the Observatory area with Orange Grove. Many locals prefer this route to the more congested Louis Botha Avenue.
Located in a cleft in the Wiwatersberg - the mountain range that paralells the Magaliesberg to the south, this 4,7 km pass climbs 147 vertical metres offering some fairly steep gradients, gentle curves and sweeping views over the Hartbeespoort Dam and valley. It is however, a very busy road and will continue to carry heavy traffic for the duration of time it takes for the westbound extension of the N4 to be completed.
Located about midway between Bethlehem and Fouriesburg on the R26 tarred road in the southern Free State, this easy 3 km long pass offers sweeping views of mountains and plains when travelling southwards. It has a mild average gradient of 1:30, but the southern descent offers much steeper gradients of 1:12. The road is safe and suitable for all vehicles.
Located on the tarred R563 between Hekpoort in the north and Krugersdorp in the south, this is easily Gauteng's biggest pass in terms of distance, altitude gained as well as steepest gradient. It's well above the national average in terms of length at 9,2 km and offers some steep climbing near the summit at 1:10. It forms one of the most popular routes over the Witwatersberge into the Magaliesberg area for weekend adventure seekers.
This is a short, easy tarred pass on the R563/R400 road between Krugersdorp and Hartbeespoort with an easy average gradient of 1:40, but the southern side has a short sharp section with gradients of 1:14. The pass is close to the Hartebeeshoek Radio Observatory and the John Nash Nature Reserve. The road is often referred to as 'The Satellite Road' by locals due to the large number of radio satellite dishes along the road.
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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