The Kingscote Cutting is an impressive example of road engineering where the hills have been carved into to make a safe and more level driving surface. It's named after the nearby Kingscote farm and lasts for 4,3 km descending a total of 260 vertical metres, producing an average gradient of 1:17. It's located on the tarred R617 route between Kokstad and Underberg with sublime views of the Drakensberg for most of the distance.
This a big pass of 14,6 km climbing 436m from the south to summit at Brook's Nek at 1616m ASL which is also the border between the two provinces. There are many sharp bends along the pass and an enforced 80 kph speed limit exists for your safety. The pass forms part of the N2 highway between Mount Ayliff and Kokstad. It's subject to heavy mountain mists in summer and snowfalls in winter.
Take a 23 km drive along the rim of South Africa's most spectacular canyon - The Blyderivierspoort or nowadays known as the Molatse Canyon - and marvel at the scenic wonders the poort has on offer - like the Three Rondavels, God's Window, the Pinnacle and Bourke's Luck Potholes. The road (R532) connects the northern towns accessible from the R36 (Hoedspruit, Burgersfort and Orighstad) with the southern towns of Graskop and Sabie. There is a significant altitude gain of 480 vertical metres, but due to the length of the pass, the average gradient is a mild 1:47. The steepest gradient you will experience is on the eastern sector, where it gets to 1:10.
This is an unusual pass/poort in many respects. Firstly it does not in any way resemble the normal pattern of a road through a poort, where the incising river is always in close proximity. In this case the road follows to the southern rim of the canyon and for most of the drive the true beauty of the canyon remains unseen. Therefore it's important to stop wherever you can and explore the views on foot.
Secondly the vertical profle is much more of a pass than a poort with a large altitude gain, but there are 5 separate summit points, progressively getting higher from west to east. The road has 44 bends, corners and curves of which 6 exceed 90 degrees radius, but none of them are significantly sharp. If you follow the speed limits, it should be a perfectly safe drive. Be aware that this is a densely populated area, so you have the erratic behaviour of local drivers (some fast, some very slow), as well as tourist traffic, which can be equally erratic. There is also the chance of finding livestock on the road and mountain mists with the associated reduced visibility is also common along this road.
Lugogoda Pass is a short but fairly steep little pass located near White River in the beautiful province of Mpumalanga, close to the western border of the Kruger National Park. It climbs out of the Legogote valley on the northern side, with some stunning granite koppies very prominent in the immediate area. The tarred road is generally-speaking in a good condition, and although a few potholes and cracks have started to appear, it does have wide shoulders and a double-lane section on the steepest part of the climb. The R538 was constructed to service the large townships which stretch all of the way from Hazyview to the northern start point of the pass, and an approach from this direction involves a slow and cumbersome drive through this mostly built-up area. The biggest hazards are the local drivers, who tend to drive either too slowly or too fast, but watch out for pedestrians and animals as well.
This beautifully scenic, but busy road is a 13 km gateway from the Lowveld to the Kruger National Park and follows the course of the Crocodile River. The gradients are very easy and even cyclists will have no issues with the pitch. It is however, a road that carries heavy traffic, so a leisurely drive through the poort enjoying the scenery is not a likely scenario. The poort plays host to the road, the railway line and the river within it's fairly narrow confines. The road, labelled as the N4, connects Nelspruit with Malelane and Komatipoort.
This lovely pass packing a substantial descent of 225 vertical metres is located on the R539 between eNtokozweni (Machadodorp) in the south west and Nelspruit in the east. It is the second pass of a quartet of passes on the R539, the other three being the Crossroads Pass at the start of the R539, Patata Nek 15 km further east and finally, Schoemanskloof Pass which follows shortly after Patata Nek. The 3,6km long pass summits at 1595m ASL producing a fairly steep average gradient of 1:16. The pass is suitable for all traffic.
This minor, but scenic poort is located on the tarred N6 route between Queenstown and Jamestown. It's only 2,7 km long and displays an altitude variane of just 18m producing a very easy average gradient of 1:150. The typical poort statistics allow the traveller to relax and enjoy the wonderful country scenery. The poort is suitable for all vehicles and on the odd occassion snow can be encountered. The road is in excellent condition with safety shoulders, but be aware that this is a fairly busy road and it carries large volumes of traffic.
Approximately 11 km to the west of Memel a ridge of mountains runs on the north/south axis, effectively separating the towns of Memel and Vrede. The tallest on this range is called Rooikop, with a summit height of 2045,2m ASL. Between the Rooikop peak and the next ridge to the south is a natural neck, through which the R34 traverses - this is Rooinek.
This fairly long pass offers an easy drive on a safe, well constructed main route - the N12 - between Beaufort West and Oudtshoorn in the vicinity of Klaarstroom. When approaching from the north, this is the first set of mountains the N12 traverses after more than 100 km of almost arrow straight flat driving over the vast plains of the Karoo. The poort is named after the Droekloof Mountains, through which the pass winds. The name translates into Dry Ravine or Passage.
A short and dramatic poort approaching Prince Albert on the tarred R407 from Klaarstroom in the east. This short poort often goes by unnoticed after motorists have traversed either the Swartberg Pass or Meiringspoort (both amongst the most famous of South African passes) and that is quite understandable. If you put the Witkranspoort anywhere else in South Africa, it would get plenty of attention. The poort is the final bit of mountain scenery to drive through before reaching the beautiful Karoo village of Prince Albert.
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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