Mpumalanga

Kiepersol Pass is located in the Sabie River Valley in Mpumalanga, between the towns of Hazyview and Sabie, on a minor road (D514) leading off to Kiepersol. The pass is named after the small hamlet on its eastern side, which is in turn named after the Kiepersol (Cabbage Tree), which grows prolifically throughout the province.

The road is tarred, but in a terrible state; massive potholes, which could seriously damage your vehicle were you to hit them, are scattered everywhere along the pass, and the most serious problem that you will encounter are other motorists weaving about across the road in an effort to avoid these hazards. Although it has a fairly significant altitude gain of 181 metres, the route displays none of the characteristics usually associated with a pass, and it is not easy to recognise it as such when driving it for the first time, but it is an official pass.

This gravel road pass offers spectacular views of forests, rivers and waterfalls and will also elevate you by 575 vertical meters. It has a summit height of 1353m which is guaranteed to provide magnificent 360 degree views.  It runs through the Blyde River Canyon National Park and is 10,3 km long ending at the crossing of the Mac-Mac River at its eastern end. It is located approximately 15 km north-east of Sabie. The road is an interesting alternative off the main tar roads to get to either Hazyview or Graskop from Sabie.

The Koffiehoogte Pass is in reality, an integral part of the triplet passes of Masjiennek, Long Tom and Koffiehoogte, which form a virtually continuous pass between Lydenburg and Sabie. Koffiehoogte is the most easterly of the three and forms the connecting section between Long Tom Pass and the Lowveld town of Sabie.

Whilst this smallest of three passes is often overlooked in favour of its more glamorous sister passes, it is nontheless a substantial pass in its own right, covering a distance of 7,7 km which is well above the national average and displays an impressive altitude gain of 423m producing an average gradient of a stiff 1:18. The road is well engineered with 21 evenly radiused corners including two bends of 170 degrees each.

Add in heavy mining and logging vehicles, dense mountain mists and heavy rain, this pass needs to be taken seriously. Overtaking is difficult due to the many blind corners and almost continuous barrier lines. This in itself creates impatience and some drivers take big risks.

Korfnek is a part of a rough track which forms a shortcut between Dullstroom and Stofberg in the high mountains of Mpumalanga, very close to the border with Limpopo. The name translates as “Basket Neck”, but its origins cannot be established. The pass itself and the approach road from the northern side are in an extremely poor condition, and it is obvious that the route is not being maintained by the authorities but probably only by the local farmers. 

The use of a high-clearance vehicle with all-terrain tyres is strongly recommended, and a 4x4 will be required during or immediately after wet weather. The route offers up some splendid views over the Laersdrifspruit Valley, but drivers will be unlikely to experience these as extreme concentration is required when traversing this pass.

 

This is another of the Top 10 Mpumalanga passes with stunning views and an altitude drop of 512m through the Drakensberg escarpment over 7,8 km., producing an average gradient of 1:15. This is a steep pass in places with gradients in excess of 1:11 and is on route R533. It was was completed in October 1959 and named after a local Sotho chief, Koveni who controlled the land along the track. The name, Koveni, became Anglicized to Kowyn. The area around the pass is truly 'out of this world' with a wide range of attractions for the traveller.

At the time of its original construction, the engineering work on this pass was one of the most advanced in South Africa with the half tunnel and cantilevered roadway with a concrete surface forming a stable structure near the summit ridge. Today (2018) the once proud pass is taking strain where many potholes have made an appearance. The Mpumalanga roads authorities appear to have no funds to appear the road and potholes are being filled with gravel (which obviously only lasts till the next rainshower). Drive carefully on this pass which is prone to thick mountain mists, but the biggest danger is opposing traffic that crosses the median line in an effort to avoid the potholes.

Kranspoort is located on the national N11 road between Groblersdal and Middelburg, very close to the Loskop Dam. The road is in an excellent condition and has been extensively refurbished (construction was completed in late 2017). The pass is nevertheless still considered to be extremely dangerous, and road users should apply due caution and heed the speed limit of 60 kph which applies for the majority of the length of the pass.

The biggest hazards which could be encountered are the mine trucks which use this route, and which could lose their brakes when descending the pass under heavy load. The name is misleading, as this is much more of a pass than a poort, and it is far steeper than one would expect. It comes as somewhat of a surprise after the long flat straight sections on the approaches from both the northern and southern sides.

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 easy scenic gravel pass of 4 km., connects farms in the Amersfoort area with farms in the Piet Retief/Panbult area and is a typical straightforward traverse over a natural neck in the Elandsberg range. With easy average gradients of 1:64 and some steeper sections of 1:11, the pass offers lovely views over the vast pastures in this dairy/cattle farming region of South Africa. The road is suitable for all vehicles, except in adverse weather conditions.

This is undoubtedly the most famous pass in Mpumalanga - and with good reason too. It is 26,2 km long (and even longer depending on where one starts measuring), plus it displays an altitude variance of 671 vertical meters through a complex network of curves as it ascends up the Drakensberg escarpment between Sabie in the east and Lydenburg in the west. The pass forms part of the Mpumalanga Panoramic Route and carries appropriately heavy traffic - both tourist and commercial. It is prone to heavy mist and can be dangerous in low visibility conditions. It is named after the famous Long Tom cannon.

With 66 bends, corners and curves and a fairly easy average gradient of 1:39 and no part being steeper than 1:10 this pass is a magnificent spectacle with grand views and rugged frontier and Anglo-Boer War history adding to its allure.

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.

 

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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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