The Golden Highway Pass connects the old mining ghost town of Eureka City, high up on a plateau of the Makhonjwa Mountains, with the Sheba Mine located in a valley far below. The end point is very close to the entrance of the famous Bray’s Golden Quarry. Originally just an unnamed track, the pass acquired its name when a local builder was contracted to provide concrete paving strips on some of the route. The story goes that he mistakenly used unprocessed ore extracted from the mine as part of his building mix, and that therefore an unknown amount of raw gold ended up as part of the road surface!
There are various routes that connect the De Kaap Valley with Eureka City, but all of these require the use of a 4x4 vehicle with low-range capability. They range from a Grade 2 to a Grade 3, but can quickly deteriorate to a Grade 4 or even a Grade 5 in wet weather. The Golden Highway Pass itself is not difficult (mainly because of the concrete paving), but fallen trees and boulders can block the pass at any time, so users should be prepared for this eventuality. There are numerous hairpin bends, at least four of which require a 3-point and perhaps even a 5-point turn, depending on the vehicle.
This is a beautiful gravel pass that ascends the eastern side of the Watervalsberg near Wolseley and connects the town with the Suurvlak plantation on top of the mountain. The pass falls under the jurisdiction of Cape Nature as well as the state's forestry arm in the Western Cape (Cape Pine). The road is open to permit holders only - we explain the process of getting the permit lower down on this page. The pass zig-zags its way up the mountain via three extreme switchbacks, at a fairly reasonable gradient and is well designed, offering exceptionally good views over the Tulbagh Valley and the Witzenberg mountains to the east. (Latest news as at Nov 2016 - this pass is now officially closed to the public)
This long, altitude gaining pass is located in the mountains to the north of Ngodwana and is a restricted road which falls under the jurisdiction of South African Paper and Pulp Industries (SAPPI). It is a big pass and covers a total of 27,6 km. The pass is tarred with an average gradient of 1:26, but there are some steep sections at 1:8. The public are discouraged from utilising the road, but for those persistent enough, you can get a permit from the SAPPI office at Camelot. [Details lower down on this page]
Caution: This is a dangerous road! Despite it being tarred, it has many corners with negative cross-flow and potholes are an ever present hazard. The road carries heavy logging vehicles which often use the entire width of the road to negotiate corners. Almost every one of its many bends has a name of a driver who has been injured or died there. Thick mountain mists bedevil the pass, sometimes reducing speed to a walking pace. There can be a temperature variance of up to 20 degrees, so take warm kit with.
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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