This is a short, steep, but minor climb over a hill on the gravel road linking Newcastle in KZN with Memel in the Free State. The pass has an average gradient of 1:16, but the climb up the steeper eastern side is as steep as 1:7. The road is important for gravel pass fans as it gives access to both the Normandien and Mullers Passes.
This is the final of a trio of passes and poorts on the P1721 route when travelling from west to east. It follows the course of the Bloupunt river and its tributary as it heads into an ever steepening poort of twisted and contorted rock formations to terminate at the northern end of Meiringspoort. It's downhill all the way for the 3,29 km length of the poort with an easy average gradient of 1:29. There are a few cattle grids on the route and one farm gate which must be closed after passing through.
This enjoyable and very scenic gravel pass on the northern slopes of the Swartberg mountains, is the middle one of a trio of passes and poorts on the P1721. It connects the farm Kleinvlei in the north with the Sandkraal and Witrivier farms in the south. The pass can be driven by all vehicles and although fairly steep in places, should present no problems in fair weather. This is not an official pass.
An easy drive through a poort that follows the course of the Aapsrivier (Monkey's River). This connecting farm road forms a semi-circular loop that joins the R407 near Klaarstroom with the northern end of Meiringspoort and is labelled as the P1721. With typical poort statistics, the road only ascends 89m over 4,66 km producing an easy average gradient of 1:54. The road is suitable for all vehicles and was receiving a major upgrade at the time of filming in May, 2015.
With a summit alltitude of 2001m ASL, this is one of only 19 passes in South Africa above 2000m. The road approximates the direction of the Kastrolnek pass, except slightly further north. It connects Wakkerstroom with the farming areas west of Dirkiesdorp. Think carefully before driving this pass, especially if poor weather is threatening and you are not in a 4WD vehicle.
This is a typical road that drives through a low point (neck) between two mountains or hills. With a length of just under 4 kms, this gravel road descends steeply with some of the gradients at 1:6 to drop 153 vertical metres from a summit altitude of 1870m. Views looking down towards the town of Volksrust are excellent. The pass connects the R543 with farms in the Vlakpoort area. The road is suitable for all vehicles, except in heavy rain or snow when 4WD would be much safer.
Kwaggasnek is a short and straightforward gravel pass which straddles the border between the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal near Volksrust. It would usually be driven in conjunction with Majubanek, a much bigger pass located to the north-east on the same route. The road is not in a particularly good condition, but can be traversed in any vehicle, provided that the weather allows. The pass is probably named after the now-extinct Quagga, which once roamed these hills in vast herds, but the name could also refer to the Burchell’s Zebra which is sometimes called a Kwagga in Afrikaans.
This is a substantial gravel pass of 8,8 km long that connects the N11 to the north of Laings Nek pass with the R34 near Memel and runs along the SW/NE axis. The pass climbs 266m to summit at 1848m and produces an average gradient of 1:33, but there are some very steep sections at 1:5. We issue the usual KZN gravel pass cautionary of "slippery when wet" as well as the occurrence of frequent mountain mists which can become extremely dangerous when visibility is reduced.
Schuinshoogte is a short gravel pass situated near Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, shaped like a back-to-front question mark when viewed from the south. It takes its name from a hillock on the northern side, which was the scene of a famous and decisive battle during the 1st Anglo-Boer War. The road is bumpy and rutted, but should not present too many problems for non-4x4 vehicles except in wet weather. The pass forms an access route from the R34 between Newcastle and Memel to the Schuinshoogte battlefield memorial site, which consists of numerous monuments and gravesites located on both sides of the road.
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.
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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