Chomse se Hoogte (R36)

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Views north of the pass at Kwendaba Views north of the pass at Kwendaba - Photo: Kwendaba.co.za

This 5 km long pass is fairly steep with gradients of up to 1:10. It connects Lydenburg in the north-east with Machadodorp in the south-west.The pass gains 218m in altitude and summits at 1531m ASL. It holds a good safety record and the curves are gentle and comfortable. The pass offers expansive views over the Kwena Basin and paragliders are often seen here using the lift off the ridges to stay aloft.

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.



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On-car video footage supplied by Mike Leicester / Video cover photo by Brendan Cremer

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Note: Google Earth software reads the actual topography and ignores roads, cuttings, tunnels, bridges and excavations. The Google Earth vertical-profile animation generates a number of parallax errors, so the profile is only a general guide of what to expect in terms of gradients, distance and elevation. The graph may present some impossible and improbably sharp spikes, which should be ignored.

Digging into the details:

Getting there:
For those approaching from Machadodorp - Locate the intersection of the R539 and the R36 adjacent to the Bambi Motel - on the right hand side of the road, some 28km north-east of Machadodorp (or as it is officially known these days in the never ending quest to shed colonial names, as eNtokozweni). Turn left onto the R36 and follow the signs to Lydenburg. After a few kilometers, you will notice a prominent peak [1612m] on your left. This is your visual indicator for the southern start of the pass.

We have filmed the pass from north to south due to favourable lighting conditions and our text description is from that perspective as well. For travellers approaching from Lydenburg, head out of that town on the R36 for 43 km to arrive at the northern start of the pass.

ParaglidersParagliders can frequently seen near the pass using the ridge l;ift to remain airborne for hours on end / Photo: WiaanAbout 10 km before the pass, driving southwards, you will pass close by the Kwena Dam (previously known as the Braam Raubenheimer Dam), which lies at the heart of a vast plain known as the Kwena Basin.

Kwena Basin is the name given to the area between Chomse se Hoogte and Witklip Pass. The Kwena Dam is the focal point of this area, which extends right up to the surrounding mountains that form a natural and majestic boundary. Kwena is the Sotho name for crocodile and derives from the Crocodile River, which flows into the Dam. The Kwena Basin, a unique valley, has seven guest farms which provide a range of accommodation and adventure activities for guests who are assured of undivided hospitality from their hosts. The climate is temperate lending itself to a variety of outdoor recreational activities to suit all age groups. The Kwena Dam is ideal for fishing and a variety of water sports.

Towards the end of a straight stretch of roadway of 2,5 km, the road curves more to the left into the south-east and crosses two small streams at the Doornhoek farm. This point also marks the northern start of the pass. The initial climb gradient is a mild 1:20 for the first 1,5 km, but things get steeper from that point, where the road bends gently back into the south.

For the next 2 km, the gradient steepens to 1:10 and at the 2,7 km a series of sharper bends have to be negotiated as the road curves through an S-bend. This section is particularly dangerous, not because of the road design, but due to the presence of many heavy duty trucks which ascend this pass very slowly (sometimes as slow as 10 kph, depending on the load). This causes frustration amongst the faster moving traffic. With blind corners and solid barrier lines (for good reason), many people risk their lives here by overtaking these (sometimes) 22m long trucks.

At the 3,3 km point, the road levels off considerably and the heading veers away to the right into the south-west via a wide bend. The final 1,8 km has a gentle gradient of 1:100 and the summit of 1531m ASL is reached 4,94 km from the start.

Continue on the R36 for a further 1,6 km, where it forms a T-junction with the R539. Turn right to go to Machadodorp [23 km] or turn left to reach Nelspruit [70 km] via De Beers Nek, Patata Nek, Schoemanskloof and Montrose passes.

Fact File:


S25.451225 E30.349020


S25.489914 E30.357864


S25.489914 E30.357864














4,9 km




4 minutes


80 kph


Tar (R36)






Machadodorp (27km)

Route Map:

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From Address:

Route files:

||Click to download: Chom se Hoogte  (Note - This is a .kmz file which can be opened in Google earth and most GPS software systems)

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