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Sand River Heights (Sandrivierhoogte)  is located on the national N1 highway between the small towns of Ventersburg and Winburg, and is one of only three passes on this highway north of Bloemfontein. The road is wide, with two lanes in either direction, and is extremely well designed and built, so it presents few dangers, except for the “surprise” factor. After travelling on long straight roads for many kilometres, especially if approaching from the south, the pass seems to appear out of nowhere, and can catch an unsuspecting driver unawares.

Published in The Free State

This short poort of only 1.48 km climbs just 50 meters as it dives through a natural cleft in the Soutpansberg. There is very little information available on who Maskekwa is (or was) and why the poort was so named.

Published in Limpopo

Ranking closely alongside the notorious Kaaimans River Pass as one of the Western Cape's most dangerous passes for trucking accidents, it is not so much the gradient that is problematic, but the long, straight, momentum-gathering descent which leads suddenly into a dangerously sharp, left-hand bend. Thankfully, a substantial crash-barrier prevents out-of-control vehicles from crossing over into the oncoming traffic. A strategically place arrestor bed halfway down the pass has also helped to reduce the dangers of trucks experiencing brake failure. There are so many scars on that crash barrier that it leaves one wondering what story each scar has to tell!

Published in The Western Cape

Passing through the Soutpansberg, Wyllie's Poort (part of the N1 between Louis Trichardt - Makhado and Musina) boasts a rich archeaological, geological and cultural heritage, and is also a bird-watching hotspot! It lays claim to being the second northern-most tarred pass in South Africa and offers attractive scenery with lots of twists and turns over a distance of 3,57 km with a small altitude drop of just 57 vertical metres.




Published in Limpopo

This relatively new pass was constructed between 1984 and 1988 at the then staggering cost of R125,000,000. Leading up to the Huguenot Tunnel from its western side, is the awe-inspiringly beautiful, high-altitude Hugosrivier Viaduct (the first of its kind to be built in South Africa!) The bridge is simultaneously curved, rising and cambered - constructed by the incremental method.  It soars high above the farm-patchworked Hugosrivier Valley. The 4 km-long tunnel reduced the distance of the old pass by 11 km.

The scenery along the pass is amongst the best in the Western Cape and it's arguably the finest pass mountain pass along the entire N1. During the winter rainfall season there are several waterfalls to be seen, some of them falling from such great heights that they disintegrate into mist before reaching the bottom. For most of the eastern section of the pass, the road follows the course of the Molenaars River, making it more of a poort than a pass, but once the Huguenot Tunnel is reached, the road burrows straight through the mountain and then descends rapidly towards the Paarl Valley.

Despite the fabulous scenery, the road carries heavy traffic and trucking accidents are a regular occurence. Most accidents occur on either side of the tunnel, rather than inside it. Drivers need to remain very alert on the pass and note that the maximum speed limit is 100 kph and at other times as low as 60 kph. Speed limits inside the tunnel may vary based on current traffic conditions. At the time of writing (2022) there is a new project to open up the second tunnel to traffic, which will allow double lanes of traffic in each of the dedicated directional tunnels. This new project should take about 3 years to complete.

Published in The Western Cape

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Mountain Passes South Africa

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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