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.
Mielietuinspruit Pass - which translates as Corn Garden Stream - is named after the large beef farm situated near its summit, just off the N11 on a minor gravel road between Ladysmith and Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal. Although not technically challenging, the pass offers the intrepid traveller a “surprise” element, in that it is a much better pass than its name or location would suggest. The road can be used as a shortcut access route from the N11 to the far more significant Mhlwane and Collings passes, which are located to the west. The road is in a good condition, and can be driven in any car, although wet weather might be a problem.
Scheepersnek is a minor climb over a smallish hill with two tiny changes in direction and an altitude gain of only 64m. It is located 15 km south-west of Vryheid on the tarred R33 route. If you did not make a note of precisely where it is, this little "pass" would probably go by unnoticed. What it lacks in physical presence, it counters with some interesting battlefields history, as this is where the Battle of Scheepersnek took place on the 20th May, 1900.
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.
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.
Smith’s Nek is located on the eastern outskirts of Dundee, a small town in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. This minor tarred pass is named after the pioneering settler Peter Smith, one of the founding fathers of the village, and Dundee itself is named after his hometown in Scotland. The pass has mundane statistics, being just 2.4 km long and with a height gain of only 42 metres, but it does provide a good overview of the town when approaching from the eastern side. The road surface is in a reasonable condition and can be driven in any vehicle, although some minor roadworks were in progress at the time of filming.
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.
Endumeni Pass is a tarred pass located on a minor road connecting the northern KwaZulu-Natal towns of Dundee and Wasbank. On many internet references, the name is often spelled (incorrectly) as “Endoumeni”, and it is also sometimes referred to as both Glenluce Pass and Wenkommando Pass. The pass is named after the landmark mountain on its eastern side, which is not clearly visible from the road itself, because it is obscured by another much closer mountain called Platberg. Endumeni is an isiZulu name meaning “place of thunderstorms”. The road is in a reasonable condition and presents very few hazards, provided that the speed limit is adhered to.
This gravel pass traverses the Drakensberg and is strictly a 4x4 track, which connects surrounding farms to the east of Harrismith in the Free State with farms in the KZN Highlands near Dundee and Newcastle. The route traverses private land and requires the consent of the land owners. Together with Rogers Pass and Keays Pass the three passes ascend and descend the Drakensberg over some tough tracks making for a challenging 4x4 circuit. Not much information is known about Brandons pass and very few people have driven it.
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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