Mpumalanga

A straightforward, easy tarred pass suitable for all vehicles, on the N11 between Volksrust and Amersfoort, that clears a neck on the eastern side of the aptly named Graskop mountain [2203m] which is completely covered in grass, about 16 km north of Volksrust. It's a pass with an average gradient of 1:38 over a distance of 4,37 km with the steepest parts being at 1:10. This pass should not be confused with the much bigger and more majestic Grasnek Pass in the Baviaanskloof, in the Eastern Cape.

A tricky, high-altitude gravel pass a few kilometres north-east of Dullstroom with lots of stones, deep ruts and steep inclines. It offers lovely scenery and challenging driving, with the road reaching a maximum altitude of 2102m ASL. At 12,5 km it's much longer than the national average and although the average gradient is a pleasant 1:28 the steepest section occurs at the 6 km mark and it has gradients as steep as 1:6. If it's raining, take extra precautions here and moderate your speed to suit the conditions. The road is not suitable for vehicles with low clearance and even 4x4's will have issues here in wet weather. We issue a cautionary for bikers.

Hendriksdal Pass is located just to the south of Sabie, on the tarred R37 route which connects the little town with Nelspruit (Mbombela). The pass is fairly long at 9,5 km and presents an altitude variance of 218m  via 22 bends, corners and curves, most of which have an easy radius.

The pass is named after the original farm in the area, which later also gave its name to a railway station dating back to the 1920s. The road is in a good condition (unlike many of the other roads in this area) and presents very few hazards, provided that the speed limit is adhered to. The pass offers up magnificent elevated views of Sabie itself, as well as the mountains and tree plantations which abound in this area.

Hennings Pass is an off the beaten track gravel road, becoming jeep-track that is only suitable for 4WD vehicles. It lies near the Verloren Valei and runs in a southerly direction along the banks of the Crocodile River. It is roughly 20km SE of Dullstroom and 18 km NW of Machodorp (as the crow flies). For those wanting to drive this route, please note that is slow going and it is an out and back route, so allow plenty of time.

 

 

The Hilltop Pass is  a wide, tarred road in good condition and is named after the farm 'Hilltop' at the summit. The 6,24 km long pass offers beautiful views over the De Kaap Valley and the Barberton Nature Reserve. The pass is located on the R40 and connects Barberton in the south with Nelspruit in the north. The pass is peppered with sharp corners, including 3 bends in excess of 120 degrees. It should be noted that there are no lay-bys to stop safely. The pass descends a total of 326 vertical metres producing a stiff average gradient of 1:14 with the steepest parts registering 1:6

 

 

 

This gravel pass is located near the foot of the much bigger Mokobulaan Pass and forms a southern extension to it. It follows the course of the dominant river in the valley - the Houtboslooprivier, after which the pass is named. At 10,3 km it's well above the national average in terms of length and offers some lovely Lowveld scenery as it descends steadily to the valley floor and features some good views of the Wonderkloof gorge on it's northern side.

With an average gradient of 1:31 this pass can be driven in a normal car, but when conditions are wet, there could be traction issues on the steeper sections which max out at 1:10. There are 44 bends, corners and curves, including one very sharp hairpin of 180 degrees, compressed into it's length and the usual gravel road cautionaries for Mpumalanga passes apply here, which include rutted and uneven surfaces due to washaways, dense mountain mists, heavy logging trucks and livestock on the road.

Mpumalanga is rich in natural beauty and what better way to experience this than driving some of the fabulous passes the province has to offer. Rich in forests with fast flowing rivers and multiple waterfalls and major attractions like the Blyde River Canyon, Bourkes Luck Potholes, Pilgrims Rest and the many game reserves, it's no wonder local and foreign tourists alike flock to this region. Often the real gems are the smaller passes tucked away in the backwaters where few people get to. Jaap se Hoogte is one of those passes.

 

With a summit alltitude of 2001m ASL, this is one of only 19 passes in South Africa above 2000m. The road approximates the direction of the Kastrolnek pass, except slightly further north. It connects Wakkerstroom with the farming areas west of Dirkiesdorp. Think carefully before driving this pass, especially if poor weather is threatening and you are not in a 4WD vehicle.

This long and beautiful pass is one of the hidden gems of the Lowveld and provides an alternative route to Nelspruit to the N4. It joins Nelspruit with Ngodwana at Sappi's massive paper mill and in the process bisects the little mountain top village of Kaapsehoop (originally Kaapschehoop), from which the pass gets its name.

The pass summits at 1653m ASL and ascends from just south-west of Nelspruit, gaining 736m of altitude over 20 kms, producing an average ascent gradient of 1:20 with the steep bits measuring in at 1:10. Stop at the village near the summit and explore the peaceful charm of the free range horses, Anglo-Boer war and mining history, quaint architecture and the walk in the nature reserve. The western descent of 12 km ends at Ngodwana and forms a T-junction with the N4.



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.

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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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