This record breaking pass has rocketed into the No.1 position as the steepest pass in South Africa with an average gradient of 1:5,567 and to add to this impressive statistic is that it is gravel all the way. It's a short pass at just 2,6 km but it packs no less than 9 hairpin bends into that short distance. We recommend a high clearance 4x4 for this pass.
It's named after the peak that forms the horseshoe bend near the confluence of the Tsitsa and Tina Rivers, called Mpindweni which has a summit height of 408m. The pass presents dense indigenous bush along the first half, wherafter it breaks out into open grassland where magnificent views of the three main rivers can be seen.
This is a road that ends at the last village at the north-western end of the horseshoe bend in the Tsitsa River. Only the most dedicated pass hunters will seek this one out as it involves a long and complex route to get here - and then you have to retrace your path all the way back to Libode. But for those who dare, the rewards will be immeasurable.
This short, but extremely steep pass is the access road to a set of telecoms towers on the conical peak just south-east of Graskop, accessible from Kowyn's Pass. At 0,8 km it's one of the shorter passes on our database and you will experience very steep gradients of 1:4. With an average gradient of 1:9,4 it slots in as the 12th steepest pass in South Africa.
We do not recommend this road for inexperienced drivers for a number of reasons, one of which is that it is very narrow and there is nowhere to pull over should you meet up with an oncoming vehicle and a stall at one of the many drainage ditches could mean a burnt out clutch. This little pass has to be driven in 1st gear (high range) as you cannot drive it in full 4x4 mode, due to the issues around axle wind up on the hard surface.
The views from the summit are breathtaking covering a full 360 degrees. If you feel the drive is too hectic, you can always walk up as it's really not far and is doable in 15 minutes on foot.
Highmoor Mountain Reserve is located to the west of Nottingham Road and Rosetta in the KZN Midlands, close to Kamberg and Giant’s Castle. The pass itself is the access route up to the main campsite and trout dams located on the summit of the Little Berg. The road surface consists of gravel, concrete and broken tar sections, but it can be traversed in any vehicle, provided that the weather conditions allow. With a summit altitude of just under 2000 metres, the area is often blanketed in snow during the winter months, sometimes forcing closures of the pass. When snow is around, or during heavy rain, do not attempt the pass at all, or at the very least not without being in a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
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.
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.
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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