Mount Carmel pass is a 13,4 km long gravel road descending 310 vertical meters through the Mount Carmel range of the Drakensberg. It is located about 25 km north-west of Nelspruit on the D1054. The road connects several farms around Schagen and is mainly used by farmers and forestry vehicles. The road is in fair condition and is suitable for all vehicles.This pass traverses the beautiful valley through the Mount Carmel Conservancy. It loses 310 metres of altitude producing an easy average gradient of 1:43 with the steepest sections being at 1:10. As the case for most gravel roads, we issue the usual 'slippery when wet' cautionary.
The Old Cape Road is located just to the north of Knysna and traverses the line of hills above the town through indigenous as well as pine and bluegum plantations. The 6.5 km long road is generally on a level gradient, with the exception of the western ascent, which is very steep. Although the average gradients are a comfortable 1:21, the climb up past Simola Golf Estate is as steep as 1:5
Shiyalongubo Pass is located in the north-eastern corner of Mpumalanga, close to Barberton and the border with Swaziland (now known as eSwatini). The pass forms part of a trail that was originally established by Robert Pettigrew, after whom the nearby Pettigrew’s Neck is named, to avoid the tsetse fly infestation along the primary route from Kaapmuiden to Barberton, which tracked the course of the Kaap River through a low-lying valley.
The name Shiyalongubo translates as “leave your belongings behind”, and is derived from the belief that items such as warm clothing and blankets would become unnecessary when descending from the high mountains into the hot Lowveld valleys. The road is usually in a fairly good condition, but it does deteriorate rapidly after bad weather and a 4x4 will be required to traverse the entire route, in particular the logging road section on the western side.
The Uitkyk Pass is more commonly called the Uitkyk Road by locals. It lies just 15km to the south of Nelspruit and provides access to several farms as well as the plantations of bluegums and pines for harvesting and maintenance. It traverses sections of the Krokodilspoort mountains in the form of a large V.
This seldom driven gem of a pass ends in a dead end with a story attached. It is frequently referred to in its Afrikaans format - Boesmanskloofpas and is also called the "Road to Nowhere". The pass connects the town of McGregor with the farm Die Galg at the summit, where it ends. However in the early 1900's there was a strong need to build a road directly from McGregor to Greyton, which is a scant 25 kms to the west. The road was subsequently built and continues over the neck (Die Galg) and then descends along the northern side of the ravine, where the road was literally hacked out of the mountainside. This proved to be an onerous and expensive project and was abandoned due to lack of funds.
Strykhoogte is something of a mystery with no history available - even from locals in MacGregor. It is clearly an old pass as there are several sections utilising Thomas Bain's dry stone walling method to support the road. The pass runs through an arid area of the Little Karoo and offers wide views over mountains and farms. It forms the western border of the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve - a favourite weekend destination for birders and hikers.
This pass is located close to Rankins Pass (which is something of a misnomer as it is not a pass, but an outpost) and runs on the north/south axis via a deep kloof through the Sandriviersberge. It is a gravel road of only 3,35km and rises 132m over that distance, producing an average gradient of 1:20 with the steepest parts being at 1:7. The start of the pass crosses the Rhenosterpoort farm, which offers excellent self catering cottages in pristine bushveld settings.
This gravel road pass should be viewed in conjunction with the Mokobulaan Pass as they follow each other from south to north towards Lydenburg. It rises 296 vertical meters over 7,62 km to summit at 1251m producing an average gradient of 1:26. There are however, some very steep sections at 1:4. The start of the pass can be located on the R593 about midway between Machadodorp and Montrose.
This rough gravel road is enjoyed by mountain bikers and adventure motor cyclists, as it is quite challenging in some sections with a variety of road conditions which can vary greatly depending on the time of year. It connects the summit area of the Hemel & Aarde Valley at the R320 with the Bot River estuary farming area, as well as with the Karwyderskraal farm on the mountain plateau. It also services the farms on the eastern side near the Hemel en Aarde valley. It offers locals a distinct shortcut for those wanting to avoid the congestion on the R43 to Hermanus and Onrus.
The pass is suitable for all vehicles, but this road can get very slippery when wet. It has recently received a substantial upgrade amd widening, especially along the western section. The special feature of this road is that it crosses the De Bos dam wall, which is also the only section of the pass that is tarred.
The Rooiberg Pass was built in 1928 most probably under the supervision of the Divisional Council of Oudtshoorn. It joins the tiny village of Van Wyksdorp with Calitzdorp over the Rooiberg Mountain. This is not a pass to be trifled with and although it can be driven in a normal car, a high clearance vehicle would be better. It is also a long pass at 14 km and contains some fairly rough sections. There are a total of 69 bends, corners and curves which include 6 hairpins and many other bends with a turning radius in excess of 90 degrees. It's a road for the less hurried traveller and offers wonderful views on both the northern and southern sides with valleys and ridges bedecked in fynbos and in winter you'll be treated to the sight of the bright orange flowers of hundreds of thousands of flowering aloes.
The pass has an altitude variance of 509m over a distance of 14 km producing an average gradient of 1:27 with the steepest parts measuring in at 1:7. All these considered, it is one you simply have to drive at least once in your life.
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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