Cecil Mack's Pass is located in the Northern section of KZN on the border with Swaziland. It is a rough, gravel road better suited to off-road vehicles with 4WD. This is not one for the casual weekend traveller. The pass has something of a chequered history including severe cyclone damage, military control and now, obsolesence. Please note that the road is blocked at the Swaziland border and no traffic may proceed beyond that point, other than on foot.
This beautiful gravel road pass is located in the western KwaZulu-Natal highlands, close to the border with the Free State province. The pass was named after Thomas George Collings, who trekked with his wife from Oudtshoorn and was the first white person to use this route. The name is often misspelt as Collin’s Pass, and also as Colling’s Pass (with an apostrophe). The pass is subject to heavy snowfalls in winter and violent thunderstorms in summer, but generally-speaking is in a good condition. Keep a lookout for the usual array of farm animals all along the length of the pass.
Research indicates that this pass was named after Herman de Beer, who owned a farm at the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment in 1870 and who granted permission for the pass to run through his property. This is considered to be one of the most dangerous roads in South Africa, and has been the site of a number of fatal accidents. The road is tarred and extremely well-engineered, but some very sharp curves and deceptively hidden corners, as well as weather conditions, have all taken their toll. The pass is sometimes closed due to snowfalls in winter, but in good weather can be driven in any vehicle, although motorists and motorcyclists need to be aware that all of the approach roads from the western side are gravelled.
A serious off-road route up (or down) the Drakensberg escarpment between the Vulintaba Country Estate in KZN and the farming area in the Free State near Memel. This one is for very experienced 4x4 drivers and MTB riders only - and is challenging, technical and steep. The pass is 3,23 km long and ascends 378m over that distance producing an average gradient of 1:8,5 with the steepest parts being at 1:3, making this the second steepest pass in South Africa. Vehicles will need to be full 4x4 with high ground clearance, low range and be equipped with recovery gear. The route traverses private property, so permission is required from both land owners.
This is a serious off-road route that connects the farm Pivaanswaterval in the west with Commissiekraal in the east via the Magidela and Kwa Mantola mountains. The pass is very steep in places and this traverse would be something of an expedition requiring proper high clearance 4WD vehicles with suitable recovery equipment. Being self-sufficient and being able to navigate around an ever changing track would be pre-requisites. Allow several hours to complete this pass and it would be best avoided in the rainy season.
Like most landmarks in this area of KZN, the names have a strong Scottish influence. This is a fairly minor climb up a long hill with few bends and no inherent dangers in the pass itself, other than low visibility in mountain mists. It is 5,6 km long and ascends 171 vertical metres over that distance, producing an easy average gradient of 1:33, with the steepest parts at 1:12. There is a short section from the 3,7 to 4,3 km marks which is flat, whereafter the climbing continues all the way into the town of Glencoe.
A straightforward rise up a natural neck with an altitude gain of 114m over 4.06 km, producing an average gradient of 1:36, but the section near the summit is quite steep at 1:7. The pass is one of two similar necks on the R33 between Dundee and Vryheid.
Located a few kilometres south-east of the town of Estcourt in KZN, this 6,8 km tarred pass connects the towns of Estcourt and Mooi River on the R103 route, which is the old national road between Johannesburg and Durban. Whilst the road is fairly straightforward, it does climb 279 vertical metres producing an average gradient of 1:24, with the steepest parts being at 1:19. The road is suitable for all traffic.
The Grobbelaarskloof Pass is named after a farm which is actually in the next kloof to the east. This pass is also commonly known as Colenso Heights. It descends into Colenso from the north-west and is part of the old tarred main road (R103) between Colenso and Ladysmith. The road drops just under 200m in altitude over 5.7 km producing an easy average gradient of 1:29, with the steepest parts being at 1:10. It's a fairly minor pass in the greater scheme of things, but like many of the smaller neks and passes in this area, it's jam packed with battlefields history.
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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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