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.
This fairly straight-forward pass lies north of the Kwena Dam (previously known as the Braam Raubenheimer Dam) on the tarred R36 route between Machadodorp in the south-west and Lydenburg in the north-east. The pass is also known as Witklip se Hoogte.
Cautionary : At the time of filming the R36 in its entirety is riddled with potholes to the point of being dangerous to drive on. This includes both the passes on this road - Witklip se Hoogte and Chomse se Hoogte. The road is scheduled for reconstruction in 2016/2017.
This gravel road pass should be viewed in conjunction with the Mokobulaan Pass as they follow each other from south to north towards Lydenburg. It rises 296 vertical meters over 7,62 km to summit at 1251m producing an average gradient of 1:26. There are however, some very steep sections at 1:4. The start of the pass can be located on the R593 about midway between Machadodorp and Montrose.
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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