A short, steep gravel pass off the R34, designated at the P279, about 15 km north of Newcastle. With a maximum gradient of 1:6 things will get slippery here in heavy rain or snow, but the pass is fairly short at just 1,7 km. After summiting the pass at 1417m ASL, keep left at the fork and continue for 2,5 km to the historical battle site of Schuinshoogte.
Smith's Nek is a smallish climb through a natural gap between two hills just to the east of Dundee in KZN. Statistically there's not much to this little pass as it is only 2,37 km long and only clinbs 45 vertical metres, producing a gentle average gradient of just 1:53 with the steepest parts being at 1:14. The real punch from Smith's Nek comes in the form of its battefields history as the hills through which the road pass were part of the Battle of Talana in 1899 - one of the first major battles between the British and the Boers.
The Sondagsrivier (Sundays River) Pass is a long gravel pass of 14 km with two summit points followed by a big descent on the eastern side, offering grand views of the Chelmsford Nature Reserve and Ntshingwayo Dam. There are some very sharp corners (including one hairpin bend) and steep gradients on this pass, which might well cause traction issues for non 4WD vehicles in very wet conditions. This pass gives access to Brandons Pass, Rogers Pass and Keays Pass (all of which are 4x4 only passes) as well as the Normandien Pass.
Soutar's Hill is a tarred road linking the towns of Mooi River and Nottingham Road (45 km to the North east) with the Nzinga River Valley 14 km to the South West. It rises 173 vertical meters over a fairly short distance of 2,46 km producing a stiff average gradient of 1:14
The Devil's Pass is a rough jeep track only suitable for 4x4 vehicles. It runs from east to west up the Southern slopes of the historical Mhlobane Mountain to summit at 1562m ASL, offering 360 degree panoramic views. This is a not track to be tackled lightly as it is a dead end at the summit, which means you have to back-track to where you started. Allow plenty of time (4 hours) to complete the circuit. It is probable that a permit is required to do this route and it might even be closed to vehicles and only accessible on foot. Inquire at Vryheid Tourism.
An easy traverse along the tarred N11 route just south of Newcastle. The short pass climbs 90 vertical metres over 2,6 km producing an average gradient of 1:29 but the road steepens to 1:14 near the summit. From the pass there are good views of the old Newcastle power station and the Kilbarchan Colliery. The pass is suitable for all vehicles and holds no apparent dangers.
The Tintwa Pass is a 4.7 km gravel road running through the Drakensberg on the North-West / South-East axis. It is known as the S1101 and connects the farming areas north of Bergville with the upper plateau of the Free State around Swinburne, Van Reenen and Harrismith. Some references list the Middledale Pass and the Tintwa Pass as being the same pass. Together they are virtually one long pass with a plateau joining them in the middle. Although it has an average gradient of just 1:48, this figure is somewhat misleading, as the pass rises and falls a number of times over its length, and the pass is more demanding than would first appear.
Named after the little town of Van Reenen, which seems to stand guard at the top of this majestic pass which winds its way through the Drakensberg mountains between Ladysmith and Harrismith along the N3 between Durban and Johannesburg. Unfortunately, the only record that the pass can lay claim to is that of the most dangerous pass in South Africa. Despite this, the long pass provides beautiful scenery as it descends towards Ladysmith in the KZN Midlands from the Free State.
This road is often mistakenly called the Old Van Reenen’s Pass, which is incorrect because the original pass mostly followed the course of the present-day N3 route. The road tracks the course of the railway line, which follows a series of contorted loops and tunnels in an effort to keep the gradient to a reasonable level. There does not appear to be an official name for this pass, so it can be confusing to research and to locate. The road, which is mostly gravel, is in a surprisingly good condition and can be driven in any high-clearance vehicle, provided that the weather allows; like Van Reenen’s Pass, the route is subject to both snow in winter and violent thunderstorms in summer.
The Van Tonders Pass foms the major portion of a farm road that connects the R33 north of Helpmekaar with another bigger gravel road that runs almost parallel with the R300, but slightly further west. The gravel surfaced pass is 7,2 km in length and descends/ascends 302m in altitude producing an average gradient of 1:24, but dont be fooled by that figure, as some of the sections are as steep as 1:5. This one is decidedly slippery when wet!
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.