This minor pass is located on the tarred R38 close to the N4 junction at the eastern end of the Krokodilpoort. It connects Louw's Creek in the south with Kaapmuiden in the north. The pass is basically a straight road cutting through a small neck through the hills and is only 3,11 km in length with an altitude gain of just 57m - it produces an average gradient of 1:20. This is a pass that if you dont know about it, you probably wouldn't even notice it. However, what it lacks in technical drama, it more than makes up for in terms of scenery. This is, after all, the lowveld and the land of the Kruger. It's just a few kilometres to the Malelane Gate.
This long tarred pass offers diverse scenery through an area steeped in history and of course, stories of robbers of those who found gold in the area. There is the famous Robbers Grave which can be visited near the pass at Pilgrims Rest - a village inextricably linked to the pioneering days of the discovery of gold. Once a flourishing town, it is today a small village offering tourists a glimpse into a bygone era. Pilgrims Rest and the aptly named Robbers Pass are historically bound like a set of twins.
This is a long pass of 20,6 km which includes a summit height of 1789m ASL and 68 bends, corners and curves to keep drivers honest. The usual cautionaries apply which include heavy mountain mists, high rainfall, logging and mining trucks, potholes and impatient drivers who disobey the barrier lines.
Located in the north-west mountainous region of Mpumalanga, this long gravel pass that runs on the north/south axis along the western side of the Steenkampsberg mountain, and offers a slower alternative to the much busier R37. This road in its entirety is more commonly known as the Beetgeskraal Road. The pass is 15,5 km long and descends 421m producing an average gradient of 1:36 with the steepest sections being at 1:8. The pass provides beautiful scenery of rivers, valleys and mountains.
The Saddleback Pass is located to the south-east of Barberton and forms part of the R40 which connects with the border post at Bulembo, Swaziland. The pass is tarred and in fair condition with obvious signs of maintenance in a state of ongoing progress. There were however some signs of potholes appearing, but these were not many. It climbs 609 meters in altitude over 10,4 km producing an average gradient of 1:17 - This will put it amongst our upper end list of steepest passes in our Extreme Passes listing.
It is as well that it is tarred, as this road would have been something of a nightmare in wet weather, when it was still gravel. Beyond the summit and Lomati Dam, the tar continues and gets a name change - The Bulembu Pass.
At 17,5 km the Santa Pass is one of the longer passes in South Africa. It is also a high aItitude pass with many sections being above 2000m. It is named after the Santa forestry settlement in the first valley on the western side, through which the pass traverses. It's a tarred pass on the R540 between Dullstroom 15 km to the SW and Lydenberg 45km to the north. The pass descends 396m to produce an average gradient of an easy 1:44 with the steepest parts being at 1:10. There are no warnings or cautionaries for this pass.
The N4 is a national highway which connects Pretoria in the west with Nelspruit and Komatipoort in the east. Soon after passing Machadodorp, the road splits into two and offers travellers a choice of routes, both of which are wonderfully scenic drives. The southern route (designated as the N4) bypasses Waterval Boven then plunges down Elands Pass and on towards Ngodwana; the northern route (designated as the R36/R539) traverses a series of four separate passes, which are, in order from west to east, Crossroads Pass, De Beersnek, Patatanek, and lastly Schoemanskloof Pass. The roads, which are almost exactly of equal length (62 km) and which are both in excellent condition, join up again near Elandshoek and Montrose, about 30 km from Nelspruit.
Shiyalongubo Pass is located in the north-eastern corner of Mpumalanga, close to Barberton and the border with Swaziland (now known as eSwatini). The pass forms part of a trail that was originally established by Robert Pettigrew, after whom the nearby Pettigrew’s Neck is named, to avoid the tsetse fly infestation along the primary route from Kaapmuiden to Barberton, which tracked the course of the Kaap River through a low-lying valley.
The name Shiyalongubo translates as “leave your belongings behind”, and is derived from the belief that items such as warm clothing and blankets would become unnecessary when descending from the high mountains into the hot Lowveld valleys. The road is usually in a fairly good condition, but it does deteriorate rapidly after bad weather and a 4x4 will be required to traverse the entire route, in particular the logging road section on the western side.
The aptly-named Skurweberg (“Rough Mountain”) Pass winds its way down the upper Drakensberg escarpment between Machadodorp and Badplaas in Mpumalanga. The pass is much-loved by motorcyclists due to the curvy nature of the road, but it does have one or two corners which can be dangerous at high speed. It is relatively steep with an average gradient of 1:17 and descends a total of 448 metres, but the tarred road surface is good and free of potholes. Keep an eye out for monkeys and baboons, as well as domestic livestock. The pass can be driven in any vehicle and in all weather conditions.
Slaaihoek translates into Salad Corner - a most unlikely name for a major mountain pass. Slaaihoek Pass is located on a tarred cul-de-sac road which provides access to the Nkomati Mine in Mpumalanga. The road surface is in an excellent condition, which is very surprising as the route is used on a continual basis by heavy-duty mine trucks and logging vehicles. There are a total of 95 corners, bends and curves on the pass, each of which have been perfectly engineered with a constant radius, making this arguably one of the best motorcycling roads in the country, but at the same time one of the most dangerous. The name of the pass and the road is derived from the original name of the farm on which the mine is located.
Steenkampsberg Pass is sometimes mistakenly referred to as "De Berg Pass" after the highest peak in the range at an altitude of 2331m. This tarred pass joins Lydenburg in the north-east with the small settlement of Roossenekal in the SSW. It is approximately 30 km to either town. The pass gains 434 vertical meters over 17,1 km producing an average gradient of 1:20. The steepest parts are at 1:7. The scenery along the entire length of the pass is exceptional and well worth any detour you will have made to drive it.
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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