fbpx

The Free State

A 5 km long long climb through a nek with fairly easy gradients along the tarred R76 road between Steynsrus and Lindley in the Eastern Free State - Lindley was a significant historical Anglo-Boer war battle site where the British 47th Imperial Yeomanry were routed and captured by the Boer forces. Lindley was once the seat of power of the Free State. It was also the birthplace of South-Africa's most famous rugby player - Dr. Danie Craven.

This short, easy pass is located close to the junction of the N1 and the R70, near Winburg in the Free State. The official route designation is the R70. This tarred road was in poor condition at the time of filming in February, 2016. It presents moderate gradients and only four very gentle curves. It lies to the east of the large irrigation dam - the Erfenis Dam, which is a popular weekend destination for locals offering fresh water angling, camping as well as a nature reserve at its north-western end near the dam wall.

 

This is a short, steep climb over a big hill, about 6km to the north-west of the summit of Mullers Pass on the Free State side of the  Drakensberg. The pass is only 1,5km long but has steep gradients with a maximum of 1:5. In wet weather, this will cause some traction issues for non 4WD vehicles. The pass gives access to several 4x4 routes as well as to the Kranskop area and is a prequel to the Lafrashoogte Pass on the way north to Memel in the Free State.

Although its is only 1.8 km long, the beautiful little poort packs 10 corners into its short length as it sinuously tracks the course of the Little Caledon River through a deep canyon. The poort terminates at the Caledonspoort Border Control Post, which manages access in to and out of Lesotho. This route can get very busy, particularly on Friday and Sunday afternoons, so avoid it during these times if you can.

The road surface is good for the most part, but there are a couple of sections where the tar has broken up. It is a real pity that the poort is so close to the border post, as the sheer stunning beauty of the surrounding area is not really noticed by most people as they rush through it in preparation for the border crossing.

Whoever was naming passes in this area obviously ran out of ideas, as this pass is simply known as Die Nek (The Neck). It skirts a prominent mountain on the north-eastern side of the tiny town of Excelsior in the central Free State, and essentially consists of just one long gravel road curve from the north-east into the south-west. The road, although fairly rough in places, is in a reasonable condition, and can be driven in any vehicle except possibly in wet weather. The area has great scenic beauty if you take the time to look beyond the seemingly endless flat plains which dominate the region.

East of Harrismith a tall sandstone mountain called Platberg, blocks the view to the east, which plays host to the fabled Donkey Pass. This pass should not be confused with Donkies Pass not too far away in KZN.  In the middle of this mountain is a deep cleft and it is up this gorge that the Donkey Pass climbs very steeply to the summit, making it the 6th highest and second steepest pass in South Africa. The road traverses a nature reserve and permits need to be obtained. Whilst the entire route with sections as steep as 1:3 are concrete stripped to aid traction, this route is not suitable for normal cars. Low range is essential. For those that do get to drive this amazing pass, you will be one of a select few to have done so.

A fairly steep gravel pass on a minor farm road between Verkykerskop in the south and Vrede in the north. The pass has an altitude variance of 175 vertical metres over 2,4 km to summit at 1949m, producing an average gradient of a stiff 1:13. This one will be slippery when wet and lethal when it snows.

Generaalsnek is a very minor pass located on the tarred R26 road between Fouriesburg and Ficksburg in the Eastern Free State highlands, close to the border with Lesotho. The entire length of the R26 is generally in a very bad condition, with potholes and patches everywhere, but this route can be driven in any vehicle and in any weather.

There is nothing to distinguish this little rise of just 49 metres with any of the other rises and falls along this road, except that it has been officially marked on the 1:50000 maps. The name of the pass was no doubt derived during the 2nd Anglo-Boer War, when this area was a hotspot of action, and there are many other passes in the vicinity that also have war connections. Perhaps it was named after that wily old fox very active in this region, General Christiaan De Wet?

This is straightforward pass over a low point in the mountains known as Grootnek - about midway between Rosendal and Ficksburg in the Free State. There is only one minor bend in the road and a small altitude gain of 85m producing a very easy average gradient of only 1:73. The steeper sections are on the southern descent which present at 1:14. The only danger on this pass is when snow occurs, when it should be avoided altogether unless you are in a 4WD vehicle equipped with appropriate equipment. The pass offers grand scenery over the mountains of the southern Free State.

This short but difficult little pass is located to the south of the town of Memel in the eastern Free State, on top of the Drakensberg escarpment close to the KwaZulu-Natal border. Named after a scenic farm situated along the banks of the Klip River, it is also sometimes referred to by the locals as Roodepoort. With a summit altitude of just under 2000 metres, the pass is subject to frequent snowfalls in winter and violent thunderstorms in summer, so careful planning is required if you intend to drive this pass. Even in good weather, a 4x4 vehicle is recommended.

 

 

Page 1 of 5

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter with News and Updates from Mountain Passes South Africa

Subscribe to our Site

Subscribe for only R300 a year (or R210 for 6 months), and get full access to our website including the videos, the full text of all mountain passes articles, fact-file, interactive map, directions and route files.

Register

 

Mountain Passes South Africa

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.
 

Master Orientation Map

Master Orientation Map We are as passionate about maps as we are about mountain passes. A good map is a thing of beauty that can transport you into the mists of time or get your sense of adventure churning. It is a place to make discoveries about deserts and seas, mountains and lakes; of roads leading into places you have not been before; a place to pore over holiday destinations or weekend camping trips. A map is your window to the world.

View Master Orientation Map...