Saartjies Nek (R511)

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View of the dam from the pass View of the dam from the pass - Photo: Daan Prinsloo

Located in a cleft in the Wiwatersberg - the mountain range that paralells the Magaliesberg to the south, this 4,7 km pass climbs 147 vertical metres offering some fairly steep gradients, gentle curves and sweeping views over the Hartbeespoort Dam and valley. It is however, a very busy road and will continue to carry heavy traffic for the duration of time it takes for the westbound extension of the N4 to be completed.


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[On-Car video material supplied by Mike Liecester / Video cover photo by Panoramio]

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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: We have filmed this pass from north to south due to available light and describe it from the same direction as well. From the town of Hartbeespoort on the north-eastern shore of the Hartbeespoort Dam, head south-east on the tarred R511 for 2 km towards the N4 (Magalies Freeway) and Pretoria, to arrive at the northern start of the pass at a 4 way intersection.

The road heads directly for a small cleft in the Witwatersberg mountain ahead. Soon after the start, the road overpasses the railway line with the Xanadu station on the left (east). The gradient for the first 1,5 km varies between 1:20 and 1:15, then briefly levels off for 300m, where it bends a few degrees more into the east, before ascending again at a steeper gradient of 1:12 towards the summit point of 1324m ASL.

Memorial Genl H SchoemanGravestone of Genl. H Schoeman / Photo: Heiner MeyerAt the 1,74 km point,  gravel roads lead off on either side of the road. The one to the right leads to the farm Nu-Merindol, but the left hand option is more interesting, which loops via the farms Saartjies Nek and Xanadu to rejoin the R511 higher up near the summit. Just after the start of this gravel road there is a fork. If you take the left hand fork it leads to the gravestone of General H.Schoeman.

Closer to the summit there is another turn-off to the right, which is a dead-end and goes to the farm Welgegund.

The southern descent is a bit steeper where the gradients vary between 1:13 and 1:14 for the first kilometre as the road curves gently to the right, resuming its south-easterly direction.

At the 4 km point, the road levels off for the final 670m to the end of the pass, which is at an altitude of 1238m adjacent to the suburb of Flora Park. If you want to get on to the N4, you need to turn right at the 4 way intersection and if you wish to remain on the R511, carry straight on as the R511 overpasses the N4 (without access ramps) 1,8km from the 4 way intersection.

The pass falls just inside the border of the North-West province and one crosses the border into Gauteng Province at the southern end.

The Magaliesberg region offers a vast variety of attractions for weekenders and adventurers from watersports on the ever popular Hartbeespoort Dam to a trip up the mountain via the cableway, or for the more adventurous there are mountain bike trails. rock climbing, hiking and a range of interesting things to see and do. The area is peppered with Anglo-Boer war history.

Fact File:

GPS START  S25.752598 E27.912736
GPS SUMMIT S25.765295 E27.934368
GPS END  S25.771907 E27.952277
SURFACE Tar (R511)
DATE FILMED 15.08.2015
NEAREST TOWN Hartbeespoort (7 km)

Route Map:

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Route files:

||Click to download: Saartjie's Nek (R511) (Note - This is a .Kmz file which can be opened in Google earth and most GPS software)

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Mountain Passes South Africa is a website dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.

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