Mpumalanga

The Sudwala Pass is located in Mpumalanga province on the tarred R539 between Sudwala Caves and Lydenburg.  It starts at its northern side at 1072m ASL and rises to 1223m, descending again to 996m. The total length of the pass is 8,93 kms producing an easy gradient of 1/39 with the steepest sections presenting at 1:14. The road is suitable for all vehicles and offers easy sweeping curves with perfect Lowveld scenery. It also gives access to the Sudwala Caves and Resort a further 7,3 kms south of the pass.

 

 The Sudwalaskraal Pass is to all intents and purposes a southern extension of the slightly longer Sudwala Pass on the same road (R359) and together form one long pass of 16 km. At 7,4 km the Sudwalaskraal Pass is well above the national average and displays a substantial altitude variance of 285m. The pass is named after the Sudwalaskraal farm near the foot of the pass. The road was in good condition at the time of filming and has nicely radiused corners and well engineered gradients never exceeding 1:11.

The famous Sudwala Caves lie near the southern foot of the pass and offer visitors a glimpse into the dark and distant past of Africa millions of years ago. The pass contains 17 bends, corners and curves of which two are U bends exceeding an angle of 130 degrees. The usual Mpumalanga pass cautionaries apply of heavy mountain mists and slow moving logging and mining trucks.

The Uitkyk Pass is more commonly called the Uitkyk Road by locals. It lies just 15km to the south of Nelspruit and provides access to several farms as well as the plantations of bluegums and pines for harvesting and maintenance. It traverses sections of the Krokodilspoort mountains in the form of a large V.



This straight forward north/south traverse over a natural neck is 6.4 km long and climbs 193m producing an average gradient of 1:33. It lies on the tarred R36 between Ohrigstad and Lydenburg,  The pass boasts a lofty summit altitude of 1411m but there are no apparent dangers or cautionaries for this pass other than mist at any time of the year and smoke during the fire season. At the time of filming (April 2018) the R36 was in a state of disrepair with patchy tar and many potholes. The pass straddles the border between Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

 

 

A fairly easy pass just north of Volksrust on the N11 with an average gradient of 1:45, but there are some steep sections at 1:8. The vertical profile is the classic up/down shape with a summit altitude of 1844m offering grand views in all directions. Volksrust is subject to winter snowfalls due to its high altitude and this pass does sometimes get closed by the traffic authorities in the event of heavy snow, which makes conditions on the pass dangerous.

This gentle tarred pass is located in southern Mpumalanga, very close to the border with KwaZulu-Natal. It lies on the R543 between the small towns of Volksrust in the west and Wakkerstroom in the east. On a clear day both places are visible in the far distance from the summit. The pass runs from east to west in a mostly dead-straight line, except for a shallow S-bend near the summit where the road crosses over a railway track. No real dangers except for stray farm animals or over-excited twitchers present themselves, but snow can be experienced here in winter, in which case extreme care should be exercised on the slippery roads.

This gravel pass lies off the R355 between Middelburg and Burgersfort and provides an easy east-west link for local farming communities. The pass can be devided into two halves with the western 4 km being very easy and then the Wapdskloof proper is ascended for the first 3,7 km providing good scenery and some steep gradients, where the driving is more challenging. The pass can be driven in almost any vehicle, but like all gravel roads, conditions can deteriorate very quickly in bad weather.

Waterval Pass is located on a minor gravel road which connects Amersfoort in the west with Dirkiesdorp in the east, in the southern part of the Mpumalanga province. The pass is named after a farm in the area, which in turn derives its name from a small waterfall which cascades over a hollow bluff on the southern side of the road. Although a big pass by any standards (it is nearly 6 km long and gains over 300 metres in height), it is marked on very few maps and is relatively unknown, possibly because of its remote location. The road is in a good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, but like all gravel roads in South Africa, the surface can deteriorate rapidly in wet weather.

This long, tarred pass connects the two old mining towns of Lydenberg - better known today as the premiere fly-fishing centre of South Africa, and Burgersfort on the R37. Lydenburg is another town which has had a recent name change and is today officially called Mashishing. No doubt because of the difficulty of pronouncing the new name, the vast majority of South Africans still call it Lydenburg.

Packed into its 19,6 km length are 51 bends, corners and curves - some of which are extremely sharp and include two hairpins and another two dangerous 90 degree bends. This is a high altitude pass with a summit height of 1621m ASL and offers excellent views, but is sorely lacking in places to stop safely. Despite the statistics, the gradients on this pass never exceed 1:16. There are a number of cautionaries for this pass, which include heavy mountain mists, lots of slow moving heavy vehicles, and some very sharp bends. Despite the dangers, the road is generally in a good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, but watch out for the occassional pothole.

Wilgekraal Pass is located on a rough gravel road which forms an alternative route to the R36 between eNtokozweni (Machadodorp) and Mashishing (Lydenburg) in Mpumalanga. The pass, which translates from Afrikaans to English as “Willow Tree Corral”, is named after the Wilgekraalspruit, a small tributary of the Crocodile River which parallels the pass for its entire length. It is almost 7 kilometres long and has a height gain of nearly 400 metres, making it a fairly significant pass. The road surface is good although quite rocky, and can be driven in any vehicle provided that the weather conditions allow.

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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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