This lovely tarred pass with its sweeping curves and grand views is located midway between Sabie and Graskop on the R532 and also provides access to the renowned Mac Mac Falles as well as the Mac Mac Pools just a few kilometres further south. The road is in a good condition and is suitable for all vehicles, on the proviso that barrier line restrictions and speed limits are adhered to. It's not a major pass in the greater scheme of things but it does provide magnificent scenery in a picture perfect Lowveld setting.
The entire area around Graskop and Sabie is prone to heavy rainfall and frequent mountain mists. In such low visibility conditions, adapt your speed according to conditions, put on all your lights (in daylight hours) including your hazards. At night switch your main beams off and use your fog lights to reduce glare.
Take a 23 km drive along the rim of South Africa's most spectacular canyon - The Blyderivierspoort or nowadays known as the Molatse Canyon - and marvel at the scenic wonders the poort has on offer - like the Three Rondavels, God's Window, the Pinnacle and Bourke's Luck Potholes. The road (R532) connects the northern towns accessible from the R36 (Hoedspruit, Burgersfort and Orighstad) with the southern towns of Graskop and Sabie. There is a significant altitude gain of 480 vertical metres, but due to the length of the pass, the average gradient is a mild 1:47. The steepest gradient you will experience is on the eastern sector, where it gets to 1:10.
This is an unusual pass/poort in many respects. Firstly it does not in any way resemble the normal pattern of a road through a poort, where the incising river is always in close proximity. In this case the road follows to the southern rim of the canyon and for most of the drive the true beauty of the canyon remains unseen. Therefore it's important to stop wherever you can and explore the views on foot.
Secondly the vertical profle is much more of a pass than a poort with a large altitude gain, but there are 5 separate summit points, progressively getting higher from west to east. The road has 44 bends, corners and curves of which 6 exceed 90 degrees radius, but none of them are significantly sharp. If you follow the speed limits, it should be a perfectly safe drive. Be aware that this is a densely populated area, so you have the erratic behaviour of local drivers (some fast, some very slow), as well as tourist traffic, which can be equally erratic. There is also the chance of finding livestock on the road and mountain mists with the associated reduced visibility is also common along this road.
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.
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.
We are as passionate about maps as we are about mountain passes. A good map is a thing of beauty that can transport you into the mists of time or get your sense of adventure churning. It is a place to make discoveries about deserts and seas, mountains and lakes; of roads leading into places you have not been before; a place to pore over holiday destinations or weekend camping trips. A map is your window to the world.