There is some confusion with regards to the name of this pass, as many online references locate Glenluce Pass in the same place as the neighbouring Endumeni Pass, which is a few kilometres away to the east. Most of the Anglo-Boer War transcripts refer to this traverse as Uithoek Pass, and there is a fairly compelling argument that this would have been correct at the time, given that the farm “Uithoek”, which was owned by Voortrekker leader Karel Landman, is located here.
The pass is situated just to the south of the small village of Glencoe, close to Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal. The tarred road is in a good condition, and should not present problems for any vehicle.
Gregory’s Nek appears to have been named after James Jenkins Gregory, a prominent citizen of the area around about the 1850s. As there were four generations of Gregorys that all produced sons named James Jenkins, it is a little unclear as to which of these men achieved the honour of having the pass named after him – it could even have been named after the family itself, or their farm, which is located nearby. The pass has a classic profile and is situated on the R33 between Vryheid and Dundee, about 15 km from the latter town. The road is not in a particularly good condition, but it is tarred and as such is suitable for all vehicles.
Griffin’s Hill is a straightforward official tarred pass with a simple low/high profile, located on the R103 between Estcourt and Mooi River in KwaZulu-Natal. It only has one significant corner, a long S-bend in the middle of the pass, and is suitable for all traffic. We have not been able the establish the identity of the person after whom the pass is named, but it is likely that this would have been a farmer that owned property in the area, or the name of the prominent person from one of the Anglo-Boer wars.
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.
Hattingshoogte is located on a minor gravel road, the P43, which connects Wakkerstroom in Mpumalanga with Utrecht in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The surname “Hattingh” is a common one in the area, so it is difficult to ascertain with any certainty as to which member of these clans the pass is named after. It is particularly scenic and visually appealing, offering splendid views over the rolling green hills and grasslands in the vicinity. The road is in a good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, although there could be some difficulty after heavy rain. This would apply in particular to the northern approach road, which involves a steep climb up towards the start from the tiny settlement of Groenvlei, as well as to a very steep section near the summit.
This pass lies on the tarred R68 between Melmoth in the east and Babanango in the west and traverses large commercial lumber plantations mostly above 1000m ASL. The road is quite narrow and motorists should always be wary of large logging trucks on this road, which might encroach over the barrier lines on corners, due to their size. The pass has an average gradient of 1:14 which puts it firmly into the 'steep' category. The steepest sections are at 1:7. The pass is also subject to mountain mists which can severely reduce visibility.
This is a gravel road pass for the purist! With a major altitude gain of 651 vertical meters over 7,2 km, the average gradient is a steep 1:11 - but wait, there's more....... You will be dealing with gradients of 1:6 along certain sections of the pass and if it's raining, prepare yourself for some slippin' n slidin' if you're not in a 4x4. The road traverses the deep valley carved out by the Umkomaas River, which is also known in Zulu as the Mkomazi River.
This is a gravel road and it is lethal when wet, so take it nice and easy and enjoy the incredible views as you gain/lose altitude. About 3/4 way up, there is a 145 degree left hand hairpin. This is a good spot to stop and absorb the grandeur and wide panorama of the river valley far below.
The name of this pass translates from Afrikaans as “Help Each Other Pass”, and originates from the period of the Voortrekkers, when these hardy people had to labour their way up and down this formidable obstacle with their wagons using a double span of oxen. The pass is located on the tarred R33 between Dundee and Pomeroy. The road is in a terrible condition, with a multitude of potholes and even a couple of places where the tar has been removed altogether. There is some evidence that repairs are in progress, but as at the time of filming, it would appear that the completion of this project is still going to take a while. Avoid driving this pass at night if possible.
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.
This pass, located on the N11 between Newcastle and Ladysmith, is usually known as “Ikhupe” in modern times, although the more correct and traditional spelling is “Mkupe”, an old Zulu name meaning “Eagles Nest”. To this day, black eagles roost along the cliffs in this vicinity. To add to the confusion, nobody seems to be quite sure of the actual names of the mountains on either side of the pass. Some maps and charts show the flat-topped mountain on the western side as “One Tree Hill” and others as “Mkupe Mountain”; this is reversed when using different references. To make matters worse, both One Tree Hill and Mkupe Mountain are also the names of other peaks in the Drakensberg near Cathedral Peak and Nkandla respectively.
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.