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.
Gravel passes hold a strange and fascinating attraction to a certain group of adventure travellers and this pass will become one of those that the glitterati will want to add to their bucket list. The reason is that it is absurdly out of the way and is a dead-end for anyone except those travelling to Lesotho. For the enthusiasts, you will be rewarded with glorious mountain scenery, fresh air aplenty and some challenging driving/riding. The pass has steep gradients of under 1:5 and is very stony, which adds to the drama with frequent loss of traction for non 4WD vehicles. It's a long, dusty, high altitude drive with a high probability of experiencing bad weather at any time of year.
This 28.6km long offroad route is located between Fouriesburg and Clarens in the Free State and follows the northern bank of the Caledon River in an easterly direction, before changing direction to ascend the mountain. This route is only suitable for the more serious and experienced offroad enthusiast and will require a 4WD vehicle with low range and good ground clearance. Some of the gradients are as steep as 1:4. This route was driven recently (Dec 2014) by one of our readers in a Suzuki Jimny and although he says it was rough, slow and tough, he completed the route successfully.
STOP PRESS: June, 2016: The big rock that had blocked the pass has now been removed and the pass is open!
This poort lies immediately to the North of the Free State town of Clarens. It is on the tarred R712 route between Clarens and Bethlehem. Other than snow from time to time, the pass presents few dangers, but offers lovely scenery of towering sandstone cliffs and tall poplar trees that line the road as you descend into Clarens.
The Golden Gate Highlands National Park is very unusual, in that it has a public road (the R712) which runs right through the middle of it. Starting from the western entrance gate, there is an official pass called Lichens Pass (also sometimes referred to as the Golden Gate Pass) which winds through some of the most spectacular scenery that South Africa has to offer.
Located just 3½ hours from Johannesburg and Pretoria, it is within reach even as a day trip destination, but most people prefer to spend more time taking in the many additional attractions whilst they are in the area. There are a host of excellent and varied accommodation options, ranging from hotels and chalets to guest farms and mountain retreats, as well as activities such as golf, horse riding, hiking, 4x4 trails and white-water rafting.
We have produced the video in two formats. The first video is the unedited full version of the entire pass in real time. The narration corresponds exactly to the points of interests described below. There are another two videos, which are the same format as all our other videos (ie. with Google Earth animations and shortened/edited for quicker viewing. These are displayed at the bottom of the page above the Fact File.
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.
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.