Koffiekloof Pass (D264)

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Looking west along Koffiekloof Pass Looking west along Koffiekloof Pass - Photo: Mike Leicester

Koffiekloof Pass is one of those official but technically insignificant passes that you would barely notice unless you know exactly where it is, and is hardly worth going out of your way for unless you intend to tick the pass off a list. It is highly unlikely that coffee was ever grown here, so the name is probably derived from the likelihood that this location was used as a stop-over or break area during treks. The gravel road is in an excellent condition and can be driven in any vehicle, and few hazards other than the probability of farm animals in the road are likely to present themselves. The scenery is however lovely and its proximity to the Chelmsford Dam means you will probably see game and birdlife.

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[Video cover photo courtesy of SanParks]

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Note: Google Earth software reads the actual topography and ignores roads, cuttings, tunnels, bridges and excavations. The Google Earth vertical-profile animation generates a number of parallax errors, so the profile is only a general guide of what to expect in terms of gradients, distance and elevation. The graph may present some impossible and improbably sharp spikes, which should be ignored.


Digging into the details:

Getting there: To approach the pass from either the north or the south, start off from the intersection of the P205-2 and the N11 at GPS coordinates S28.048610 E29.977665. Travel along the P205-2 in a westerly direction for 7.2 km to S28.080665 E29.918802. If you want to approach the pass from the south, turn left onto the P216, then travel in a southerly direction for 6.8 km to S28.132339 E29.884379. Turn right onto the D90, travel for 5.9 km to S28.131290 E29.827835, then turn right onto the D264. The southern start is 3.3 km from this point. To approach from the north, continue along the P205-2 for another 7.3 km to S28.066080 E29.849179, then turn left onto the D264. The northern start is 1.7 km from this point.

The dam is the centre point of life at the Chelmsford Nature ReserveThe nearby Chelmsford Nature Reserve offers a wide range of leisure activities / Photo: KwaZuluNatalFilm

We have filmed the pass from north to south, in the ascending mode. The pass starts off at its low point of 1287 metres with a shallow left-hand curve, then straightens up for 250 metres before entering a sequence of two gradual right-hand bends. Another short straight of 400 metres is followed by a left-hand corner of 30 degrees, leading into a long straight of 850 metres.

The road continues to follow the course of the Mhlonyane River, which is on the right-hand side although not visible through the dense vegetation. The road enters a series of shallow dips and rises at the end of the straight, then curves to the left and encounters a short sharp blind rise of about 50 metres. Beware of oncoming traffic at this point, as the road is quite narrow. 100 metres further along, the road bends back to the right and dips down to cross a bridge over a small stream. What appears to be a cinder quarry is located on the left-hand side.

The road climbs back out of the small depression formed by the stream, then enters a long shallow S-bend, first turning left and then right, as it ascends gradually towards the high point of the kloof. A final right-hand curve gets you to the summit and the end of the pass, which is reached at the 3.2 km mark.

Koffiekloof Pass offers attractive rural sceneryAttractive KZN scenery with thatched huts dotting the green landscape / Photo: Mike Leicester

The Chelmsford Nature Reserve is located just to the north of Koffiekloof Pass. The reserve surrounds the Chelmsford Dam (also known as the Ntshingwayo Dam) which is located on the iNgagane River, and the dam itself covers a total area of 6800 hectares. It was built in 1961, and is the 3rd largest dam in KwaZulu-Natal.

The reserve is well stocked with game, which includes rhino, zebra, wildebeest, red hartebeest, springbok and blesbok. Chelmsford also features the largest population of the rare oribi in South Africa. But the reserve is perhaps best known as a birding destination, with over 200 species being recorded. The dam provides a sanctuary for a plethora of waterfowl species, including flamingos, but grassland species thrive here as well.

Watersports such as powerboating, jet skiing, windsurfing and canoeing feature strongly on the dam. Beneath the waters, anglers can expect to catch freshwater species such as bass, carp and mudfish. Accommodation is provided in the form of chalets, and in addition there are two camping areas with over 30 sites located close to the water’s edge.

[Text & video footage by Mike Leicester]

Fact File:

GPS START  S28.077872 E29.838759
GPS SUMMIT S28.103571 E29.830704
GPS END  S28.103571 E29.830704
DISTANCE 3,2 km 
SURFACE Gravel (D264)
DATE FILMED 18.03.2017
NEAREST TOWN Dannhauser (28 km)

Route Map:

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Route files:

||Click to download: Koffiekloof Pass (Note - this is a .kmz file, which can be opened in Google earth and  most GPS models)


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