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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:From the tar road between Newcastle and Normandien, turn north-west onto a gravel road at the turn-off to the iNcandu Waterfall at GPS S27.855218 E29.841583. Within 400m the road crosses the iNcandu River via narrow bridge. Remain on this gravel road for 10,4 km and turn left onto a forestry track at GPS S27.812829 E29.765604.
This is also the eastern starting point of Sak se Pad. You will need to download this trackload so as not to get lost in the maze of roads that criss-cross the mountains or be in the company of a competent local guide. The first 1,3 km heads west through dense plantations at a stiff gradient of 1:7, where the road breaks out of the forest and begins ascending the lower sections of the Drakensberg escarpment.
The next 1,5 km is very steep (1:4,5) and this is serious off-road stuff as the jeep track heads up a side spur of the mountains, maintaining its westerly direction via 7 sharp corners and switchbacks.At the 2,8 km mark, another spur is reached which runs along the north/south axis. Here the track switches direction into the north-west, and follows the lip of the escarpment at an easier gradient of 1:11. The views along this section are literally "out of this world" and privvy only to a very small group of people who have the time, means and opportunity to travel this route. Views to the left (west) are of Cathedral Peak and the green valleys that sprawl eastwards, whilst to the right the Table Mountain look-alike mountain called Kranskop can be seen and lower down in the valley in the far distance, the Vultintaba Country Estate can be seen.
The pass ends at a Y-junction just over the KZN/Free State border. The shortest way back to civilisation is to turn left and follow your GPS back to the main road and descend back to KZN via Mullers Pass.
This route should not be attempted by inexperienced off-road drivers or in a single vehicle. We recommend a minimum group size of 3 vehicles, fitted with appropriate recovery, medical and emergency equipment including a satellite phone. This is the Drakensberg - expect severe weather conditions at any time of the year including heavy rain, hail, tornadoes, electrical storms and snow.
Anyone wanting to drive this route will need to make their own inquiries from the land owners to get permission and permits. Be prepared for any eventuality.
|GPS START||S27.812817 E29.765547|
|GPS SUMMIT||S27.807520 E29.729574|
|GPS END||S27.807520 E29.729574|
|AVE GRADIENT||1:11 [Specific 1:10,55]|
|DIRECTION - TRAVEL||WNW|
|TIME REQUIRED||3 hours|
|SPEED LIMIT||None - Offroad|
|SURFACE||Gravel/ jeep track|
|NEAREST TOWN||Newcastle (24km)|
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- Choose either Map View or Satellite View (overlaid on the map detail.)
- Zoom in and out; rotate in any direction.
- Use the Get Route'feature (directly beneath the map): type in your address to get a personalised route straight from where you are to the pass, with time and distance included.
- Detailed written and printable directions.
- Drag the 'little orange man' icon onto the pass for a complete 360° tiltable "street view".
||Click to download: Sak se Pad Pass (Note - this is a .kmz file which can be opened in Google earth plus most GPS devices)