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KwaZulu-Natal

Mollshoogte is a long gravel road pass located in the north-western corner of the KwaZulu-Natal province, close to Volksrust and Charlestown. It is in the centre of a trio of passes which traverse the escarpment in this area, the other two being Lang’s Nek to the west and Barrowfield Pass to the east. With a height gain of nearly 400 metres and a length of almost 7 kilometres, this a substantial pass, but the road surface is good and there are no particularly sharp corners. It should not present any problems, except perhaps during or after heavy rains. Another official pass called Mollsnek is located very close to the summit, but as this is on private land, we have elected not to document this pass on our website.

 

Mpate Heights is a minor tarred pass located on the R68, a shortcut road between the N11 and Dundee in northern KwaZulu-Natal, on the western side of the town. It is named after the mountain which dominates the skyline on its northern side, today called “Mpate”, although earlier maps and transcripts always spelled the name as “Mpati” or sometimes even as “Impati”, which translates as “the place of good waters”. There is only one shallow corner on the pass, which is 2.6 km long and which changes altitude by 139 metres. The road is in a good condition and can be traversed in any vehicle.

 

The Mpate Mountain looms above Dundee on the northern side of the town, and the pass is basically an access road to the host of telecommunication towers erected on its summit. Spectacular views over the town and the surrounding river valleys make this a very worthwhile traverse, as does the scenery all along the access route as the road winds its way up the side of the mountain. The gravelled section of the road is in a fairly good condition for the most part, and can be driven in any normal vehicle that has a reasonable ground clearance. This pass should be avoided in bad weather. It should not be confused with the nearby Mpate Heights Pass.

 

This steep, gravel road pass lies between Newcastle in KZN and Memel in the Free State. The pass traverses a natural path up the Drakensberg and is located roughly 33 km west-south-west of Newcastle and  15 km north east of the Normandien Pass. It is OK to drive in a normal car subject to conditions being dry. Like most passes in this part of the Drakensberg, it is subject to heavy electrical storms in summer and snowfalls during winter. In such conditions a 4x4 vehicle is much safer.

Murray's Neck is a straightforward tarred pass rising 116m to a neck where fabulous views over the Pongola Nature Reserve can be enjoyed. The pass forms an integral part of the access road from the N2 to the SA/Swaziland border control point at Golela, where there is also a railway station. The road provides tourism access from the eastern end of the pass to some of KZN's finest game reserves. The pass has a steeper descent gradient, but in general this is an easy pass with a good safety record and comfortable gradients with gentle corners. It is suitable for all vehicles.

This substantial suburban pass is 5,2 km long and descends 435m producing an average gradient of 1:12 with the steepest parts registering in at 1:5. The road connects a wide range of suburbs, both residential and commercial with Inanda Dam and environs. Its located approximately 23 km north-west of the Durban. The pass offers some fabulous bends and even better views over the Inanda Dam.

The traverse includes 32 bends corners and curves of which 2 sections are chicane style bends which include tight hairpins of 180 degrees and another horseshoe bend of the same arc. The road is tarred and is also sometimes confusingly known as the Inanda Pass. Inanda Road traverses a different valley near this pass a little further south, so calling it Inanda Pass can only cause confusion.

This is a high crime zone, so be fully aware of your personal safety at all times and preferably drive in a group.

Nicholson's Nek is a relatively minor and insignificant gravel road pass through a natural break in the mountains just north of Ladysmith, but it is of great historical value and is mentioned frequently during the second Anglo-Boer war. The pass is just 1.4 km long, and has a small height gain of only 58 metres.

Normandien Pass is named after the farm and small settlement located near the foot of the pass on the eastern side, which consists of just of few buildings, a shop and a police station. It is without question one of the best gravel passes in KwaZulu-Natal, and one which many avid off-road enthusiasts aspire to conquer. It has all of the elements that make up a great pass – altitude (at 1995 metres ASL, this is the second highest pass in KZN, after Sani Pass), steep gradients, difficult road conditions, lots of twists and turns, and breath-taking views. Depending on the time of year and the weather conditions, this pass could be driven in a high clearance vehicle, but a 4x4 is strongly recommended.

“Noustrop” literally translates into English as “narrow strap”, but the term is most often used colloquially in Afrikaans as a word meaning “to struggle”. This is not surprising, as this difficult pass must have presented a formidable obstacle to the Voortrekkers when they first arrived here, similar to the nearby Helpmekaar Pass (“Help Each Other Pass”). The signs which bookend this pass on either end spell the name as “Knostrope Pass”, which is also the name of a farm in the vicinity. The gravelled road is in a fairly good condition, but there are sections which could present a problem in wet weather. It is located close to the Anglo-Zulu War battlefields of Rorke’s Drift, Fugitive’s Drift and Isandlwana.

 

The Nzinga Pass is a long gravel pass located roughly midway between Nottingham Road and Himeville on the Lotheni Road. The road is generally in a reasonable condition and is suitable for all vehicles. There are no shortages of bends on this pass - 43 of them in total. Ten of the corners are in excess of 90 degrees, but there are no true hairpins.

There is an altitude variance of 339m and an unusual feature is the double set of river crossings. Cautionaries include the two narrow single width bridges which are dangerous, even in good weather and best traveresed at 30 kph. Mountain mists can severaly reduce visibility and livestock and pedestrians are always a problem in this area. 

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Mountain Passes South Africa

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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