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.
This well engineered pass connects the Karoo towns of Noupoort and Middelburg on the N9 route. With fairly easy gradients, the 7 km long traverse through stunning Karoo landscape is well worth the effort. The pass is named after the large mountain to the south of Noupoort, known as Carlton Hills.
Kastrolnek translates into 'Saucepan Neck' and it will be a case of "out of the frying pan and into the fire" if you venture over this pass during a snowstorm, as the maximum altitude is an energy-sapping 2030m ASL, but mostly it's a safe and straightforward drive in dry weather conditions. The pass is 6.8 km long and ascends 233 vertical metres producing some very steep gradients of up to 1:6. The pass connects Piet Retief with Wakkerstroom on the tarred R543.
This gentle tarred pass is located in southern Mpumalanga, very close to the border with KwaZulu-Natal. It lies on the R543 between the small towns of Volksrust in the west and Wakkerstroom in the east. On a clear day both places are visible in the far distance from the summit. The pass runs from east to west in a mostly dead-straight line, except for a shallow S-bend near the summit where the road crosses over a railway track. No real dangers except for stray farm animals or over-excited twitchers present themselves, but snow can be experienced here in winter, in which case extreme care should be exercised on the slippery roads.
A fairly easy pass just north of Volksrust on the N11 with an average gradient of 1:45, but there are some steep sections at 1:8. The vertical profile is the classic up/down shape with a summit altitude of 1844m offering grand views in all directions. Volksrust is subject to winter snowfalls due to its high altitude and this pass does sometimes get closed by the traffic authorities in the event of heavy snow, which makes conditions on the pass dangerous.
Visierkerfnek, which translates as “Gunsight Notch Neck”, is minor pass which connects Newcastle with the Vulintaba Country Estate and Hotel. Although recently tarred, poor workmanship has resulted in a bumpy surface riddled with potholes, but the pass can be negotiated in any vehicle. There are no apparent dangers, other than the tight curves on the southern side of the pass where the speed limit has been reduced to 40 kph, obviously because problems have been experienced here in the past. The pass is 3 km long and there is a height gain of just 105 metres.
This is a straight-forward climb up a steep hill about midway between Newcastle and Normandien on a tarred road and has only one slight bend in the road. It is suitable for all traffic and is named for its proximity to the well known iNcandu Waterfall, which is very close to the summit of the hill.
This pass is named after the Ngogo River, which flows from west to east on the southern side. Derived from Zulu, the name has been explained as an onomatopoeic rendering of water gurgling over stones, but the phrase is also used as a term of respect for an older woman. This area was especially vulnerable during the Boer struggle for independence from Britain in the 1880’s, commonly known as the First Anglo-Boer War. Decisive battles were fought in the vicinity of Volksrust at Lang’s Nek and Ingogo, followed by the Boer victory at the Battle of Majuba, where the British commander, General Colley, was fatally wounded.
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.
We are as passionate about maps as we are about mountain passes. A good map is a thing of beauty that can transport you into the mists of time or get your sense of adventure churning. It is a place to make discoveries about deserts and seas, mountains and lakes; of roads leading into places you have not been before; a place to pore over holiday destinations or weekend camping trips. A map is your window to the world.