This relatively new pass was constructed between 1984 and 1988 at the then staggering cost of R125,000,000. Leading up to the Huguenot Tunnel from its western side, is the awe-inspiringly beautiful, high-altitude Hugosrivier Viaduct (the first of its kind to be built in South Africa!) The bridge is simultaneously curved, rising and cambered - constructed by the incremental method. It soars high above the farm-patchworked Hugosrivier Valley. The 4 km-long tunnel reduced the distance of the old pass by 11 km.
The scenery along the pass is amongst the best in the Western Cape and it's arguably the finest pass mountain pass along the entire N1. During the winter rainfall season there are several waterfalls to be seen, some of them falling from such great heights that they disintegrate into mist before reaching the bottom. For most of the eastern section of the pass, the road follows the course of the Molenaars River, making it more of a poort than a pass, but once the Huguenot Tunnel is reached, the road burrows straight through the mountain and then descends rapidly towards the Paarl Valley.
Despite the fabulous scenery, the road carries heavy traffic and trucking accidents are a regular occurence. Most accidents occur on either side of the tunnel, rather than inside it. Drivers need to remain very alert on the pass and note that the maximum speed limit is 100 kph and at other times as low as 60 kph. Speed limits inside the tunnel may vary based on current traffic conditions. At the time of writing (2022) there is a new project to open up the second tunnel to traffic, which will allow double lanes of traffic in each of the dedicated directional tunnels. This new project should take about 3 years to complete.
This gently meandering tar road along the valley between the impressive Slanghoek Mountains and the smaller Badsberg mountain showcases a restfully pastoral landscape of vineyards and fruit farms. A wine-tasting tour at the popular wine farms is a must for wine connoisseurs - locals and tourists alike! The drive through the valley is a visual feast, but watch out for pedestrians, animals, cyclists and slow moving farm vehicles.
The Bain's Kloof Pass (R301) provided a more direct route from the town of Wellington to the more northern towns of Ceres and Worcester, in the Western Cape.
It is 26,8 km in length from the bridge over the Breede River to the outskirts of Wellington. Built circa 1849 by Andrew Geddes Bain, this pass was a tough nut to crack, working with convicts and raw, rough materials and methods. As always seemed to be the case with Bain, he oversaw a marvellous job of the pass which, having stood the test of time, is now a national monument.
The more dramatic, northern section of the pass roughly follows the course of the Witte River, a raging torrent during the wet winter season.
The old Du Toits Kloof Pass (officially designated as the R101) is 11km longer than the newer N1 route, and is certainly worth choosing over the new route if you're not in a hurry! Its grand, dramatic mountain views and elegantly constructed, tunnel whisks one back in time to an older, almost forgotten era -- when World War 2 impactfully changed the world with its bombs, genocide and bittersweet victories.
Cogmanskloof connects the towns of Ashton and Montagu. Its entire 6.5 km stretches through a majestic landscape of towering rock formations and a colourful pastoral patchwork, which delights the eye and invigorates the heart! Renamed after the popular Cape Colonial Secretary, John Montagu, the town's original name of Cogmanskloof is where this pass took its name from.
Technically this is much more of a poort than a pass, as the elevation variances are minor. The road more or less follows the river for the entire length. Montagu and Ashton are at the epicentre of the dried and stone fruit industry in the Western Cape and a visit to the local co-op is a must. Montagu has a wide variety of accommodation options on offer from basic backpacker style camping all the way through to 5 star luxury lodges. There are many restaurants and a few hotels. The town has become popular with the adventure set, attracting groups of mountain bikers, hikers and rock climbers. In the town are two caravan parks and several more on the outskirts and surrounding farms.
The 4.7 km Uitkyk Pass joins the northern and southern Cederberg Wilderness areas. Of medium length and fairly steep, this pass is true to its name, which translates as 'Look Out' or 'Viewpoint', providing endless vistas of the unique Cederberg mountains, with the Algeria Valley beckoning down below with it's beautiful grassed campsites and refreshing rock pools.
The pass is sometimes listed as the Cederberg Pass on older maps with the old pass (which runs up the eastern side of the ravine) which it replaced, being listed as the "Old Uitkyk Pass". Take your pick! There is another Uitkyk Pass in Mpumalanga, so 'Cederberg Pass' would have been a wiser choice. Some maps also show the Nieuwoudts Pass as the Cederberg Pass. There is another pass on the Wupperthal Road further to the north-east also called Uitkyk Pass on older maps, which has had a sensible name change to Hoek-se-berg Pass.
The much loved gravel pass was tarred in late 2019.
Travelling on an unmarked gravel road through the Karoo, a seemingly endless herd of Angora goats forced us to stop the car, and allow the ancient farm scene unfolding before us to take us back in time... Whilst this is not a mountain pass, we have added this page in as a general interest item. This road does not form part of our national passes database.
In this video clip, the entire herd of goats was controlled by the farmer in a 'bakkie' with single Border Collie ensuring there were no strays and at end of this 2 km long goat herd, two goat herders ensured they all entered a gate to a new pasture.
This was the first road between George and Oudtshoorn. The Montagu Pass was opened in 1848, having taken 3 years to build by some 250 convicts at a cost of 36,000 Pounds Sterling. It lays claim to being the oldest, unaltered pass still in use in South Africa and covers 17,1 kms of magnificently scenic narrow, gravel road driving, ascending from the tiny hamlet of Herold, on the northern side of the Outeniqua Mountains up and over the summit and then all the way down to the outskirts of George.
The road compresses 126 bends corners and curves into its length and gradients reach a maximum of 1:6. The road is suitable for all vehicles in fair weather, but please drive slowly and due to many sections being only single width (especially on the southern side) it might be necessary to reverse back to a wider point to allow passing oncoming traffic.
The pass was built to replace the highly dangerous and extremely difficult Cradock Pass, which still exists today, but as a tough hiking trail. The pass was named after John Montagu, who was the colonial secretary of the Cape at the time.
The mysteriously named Phantom Pass is the final pass on the Garden Route's string of "Seven Passes" between George and Knysna. The 7,4 km of narrow, gravel road descends to the famously picturesque Knysna River Lagoon, and finds its end-point at the N2. The other six passes are listed at the bottom of this page for easy reference and access.
Lying 6th in the string of 'Seven Passes' between George and Knysna, the narrow, gravel Homtini Pass covers 5 km of wonderfully scenic driving, descending to the river from which it takes its name, and ascends up the eastern side to terminate at the Rheenendal Timber Mill. The name is apparently of Khoi origin and means either "mountain honey" or "difficult passage". This pass is also sometimes known as the Goukamma River Pass.
This is the biggest of the passes at 5 km and presents an altitude variance of 153m. You will be kept busy as the driver, as there are 45 bends, corners and curves of which there are 3 corners greater than 120 degrees and i extremely sharp hairpin.
Of the passes on the 7 Passes Road that Thomas Bain built, this was the pass that presented him with the most difficult technical challenges and might well have been the point where his frustration levels boiled over which led to the now famous argument with his brother in law, Adam de Smidt, when the pair disagreed vehemently about the routing of the 7 Passes Road. The family argument eventually led to a 'no speak' scenario for the rest of their living years.
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.