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 lovely pass packing a substantial descent of 225 vertical metres is located on the R539 between eNtokozweni (Machadodorp) in the south west and Nelspruit in the east. It is the second pass of a quartet of passes on the R539, the other three being the Crossroads Pass at the start of the R539, Patata Nek 15 km further east and finally, Schoemanskloof Pass which follows shortly after Patata Nek. The 3,6km long pass summits at 1595m ASL producing a fairly steep average gradient of 1:16. The pass is suitable for all traffic.
The Bouldersberg Pass, together with it's sister pass, the Mpageni Pass forms the bulk of the old Nelspruit-Kaapmuiden road. It is a narrow tarred road [D286] that traverses the Crocodile Poort Nature Reserve. It descends 454 vertical meters over a distance of 8,7 km to produce a stiff average gradient of 1:19, with some sections as steep as 1:14. The pass terminates near the intersection with the tarred R38 to Barberton. Watch out for wild animals, especially at night and it should also be noted that there are two control booms, where you have to sign in and out. This pass should be reviewed with the Mpageni Pass as they virtually run back to back. The road parallels the Crocodile river for most of its length.
Mount Carmel pass is a 13,4 km long gravel road descending 310 vertical meters through the Mount Carmel range of the Drakensberg. It is located about 25 km north-west of Nelspruit on the D1054. The road connects several farms around Schagen and is mainly used by farmers and forestry vehicles. The road is in fair condition and is suitable for all vehicles.This pass traverses the beautiful valley through the Mount Carmel Conservancy. It loses 310 metres of altitude producing an easy average gradient of 1:43 with the steepest sections being at 1:10. As the case for most gravel roads, we issue the usual 'slippery when wet' cautionary.
The Hilltop Pass is a wide, tarred road in good condition and is named after the farm 'Hilltop' at the summit. The 6,24 km long pass offers beautiful views over the De Kaap Valley and the Barberton Nature Reserve. The pass is located on the R40 and connects Barberton in the south with Nelspruit in the north. The pass is peppered with sharp corners, including 3 bends in excess of 120 degrees. It should be noted that there are no lay-bys to stop safely. The pass descends a total of 326 vertical metres producing a stiff average gradient of 1:14 with the steepest parts registering 1:6
Koffiehoogte 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.
This pass bisects the wide Schoemans Poort on the R539 between eNtokozweni (Machadodorp) and Montrose, which lies 35km to the east. It is located approximately 12km south-east of the Kwena Dam (previously known as the Braam Raubenheimer Dam). It descends a substantial 196 meters over 5.2 km producing an average gradient of 1:26 with the steepest parts being at 1:8. It is a fairly straight-forward pass with no obvious dangers. Other than a few gentle S-bends near the summit, the road is virtually dead straight for 80% of it's length.
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.
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.
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.
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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