The Pelangwe Pass is an obscure, but extremely well engineered, tar pass situated near Ga-Nkoana in the centre of the Limpopo province. To get to the pass from the south involves some complicated routing through a densely populated rural area, so travel is slow and you will need to be extra vigilant, because of traffic, pedestrians and livestock. The approach from the north is on a gravel road which is poorly maintained, but a 4x4 is not required. The landscape surrounding the pass is very unusual, with the predominant colour of the rocks and ground being white. The pass and the small town at the northern end are named after the Pelangwe Mountain, which is in the immediate vicinity.
Dulcie’s Nek is a minor pass located in a forgotten corner of South Africa, in a triangle formed by the borders of the Eastern Cape, Free State and Lesotho. No trace can be found to indicate who the “Dulcie” was that the pass is named after. The road is tarred, is in an excellent condition, and can be driven in any vehicle. The area is the birthplace of Olive Schreiner, one of South Africa’s best-known and beloved authors, and the creator of a classic tale about pastoral life in the Karoo, “The Story of an African Farm”.
Just north of the Outeniqua mountains along the N9 national route lies a pass that very few people know exists, despite the fact the thousands of vehicles commute over the route daily. The Beveraas Kloof is formed by the north flowing Waboomskraal river that descends from the summit area of the Outeniqua Pass and is fed by at least three powerful tributaries. This lovely section of roadway is mostly overlooked compared to the limelight which inevitably goes to the nearby Outeniqua Pass. The Beveraas Kloof Pass is fairly short at 4,6 km and presents an altitude variance of only 60m producing an easy average gradient of 1:115 with the steepest parts being at 1:11. This road is technically much more of a poort than a pass. It's named after the original farm Beveraas Kloof, which is located on the western side of the road and is frequently listed with the slightly different spelling of Beverass, which is typical of how older names get changed over time to suit a local dialect.
Garieshoogte is a substantial altitude gaining pass on the N7 national route, just north of the town of Garies. It has an altitude variance of 284m over 5,7 km producing an average gradient of 1:20 with the steepest parts being at 1:11. This road is relatively new and in excellent condition. There are several deep and near vertical cuttings that provide a showcase of the local geology. The old gravel road, which follows a far more winding road just to the right of the new road can still be seen clearly from the new pass, but it is no longer publicly accessible. The pass is suitable for all traffic and holds no apparent dangers in its design.
Set amongst the brooding cliffs and magnificent mountains of the eastern Limpopo escarpment, this stunning pass comes as an unexpected and welcome surprise when travelling on the R518 between Mokopane and Marken. With 26 corners, one of which is a sharp hairpin of 160 degrees with a long bridge at its apex; a length of almost 10 km and a height gain of 415 metres, this beautiful pass could be counted amongst the top passes in the country. It is also eerily reminiscent of the Oudeberg (ouberg) Pass near Graaff-Reniet in the Eastern Cape.
This is an easy tarred pass on the R357 main route between Nieuwoudtville in the south and Loeriesfontein in the north. The pass is fairly short at 2,8 km and has an altitude variance of 118m, producing a moderate average gradient of 1:24 with the steepest section near the summit as steep as 1:10. The road surface was good at the time of production in June 2016 and the pass holds no obvious dangers. It is suitable for all vehicles, subject to fine weather and speed limits and barrier lines being adhered to.
The pass is obviously named after the Doornrivier which course it follows for some distance. It is also sometimes called the Doringrivier Pass in the more Afrikaans style. The most notable feature of this pass is that the Nieuwoudtville waterfall is located close to the southern end of the pass. At 8,8 km this is a moderately long pass with a total altitude variance of 245m which produces an easy average gradient of 1:36, with the steepest parts being just after the summit point at 1:9. This is a safe, well engineered road with gentle curves and nicely banked corners and presents no obvious dangers in fair weather. It is suitable for all vehicles.
This relatively unknown tarred pass forms part of four passes along the R410 route between Queenstown and Elliot in the the high altitude region of the Eastern Cape - the others being from west to east the Nonesi's Nek Pass, the MacKay's Nek Pass, this pass and finally the Cala Pass forming a set of huge stepping stones towards the highest region of the Eastern Cape and the gateway to all the major gravel passes close to the southern Drakensberg and Lesotho. The pass offers lovely mountainous scenery and a traverse alongside a river filled with white water during summer. It's modern, well engineered and is suitable for all traffic. It's 12,3 km long and has an altitude variance of 323 vertical metres to summit at 1566m ASL producing an average gradient of 1:38 with the steepest section being at 1:11 The pass is subject to winter snowfalls.
Victoria Nek is a tar road pass situated on the S109, an obscure road which leads to nowhere significant except the small airport which used to serve Thaba Nchu (now abandoned) and the Maria Moroka Game Reserve. The pass was named after Queen Victoria, and is mentioned numerous times in chronicles of both the Great Trek and the 2nd Anglo-Boer War. With a height gain/loss of just 58 metres and a length of just 3.3 kilometres, this is a small pass, but it is very scenic, and worth the slight detour off the N8 if you are in the area.
MacKay's Nek Pass on the tarred R410 route between Queenstown in the west and Lady Frere in the east, is a fairly short, but dramatic pass that can surprise unwary drivers with its steep gradients and very sharp bends. It's only 3,8 km long, but crammed into the first 2,5 km are two full horseshoe bends and one ninety degree right hand curve. The gradients are steep on the western side of the pass, reaching 1:7 and when added to an already high altitude of over 1200m ASL, many vehicles will experience a sensation of feeling underpowered.
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.