This is a modest pass that clears an old military outpost known as Kommando Nek. It connects Hekpoort to the west with the village of Hartbeespoort to the east via the R560 / R512. It only rises 56m over 2,4 km producing an easy average gradient of 1:43, with the steeper sections before and after the summit presenting at 1:14. The pass offers lovely views over the Hartbeespoort Dam as well as access to some of the ruins of the old blockhouses dating back to the Anglo-Boer war.
This is a minor pass located 11 km south-east of Bethlehem in the Free State on the N5 route to Harrismith. The pass is short and only gains 50m in altitude with a single S-curve near the summit. The steepest gradients are at 1:14 and this one is suitable for all vehicles, except when it snows, which it does from time to time at these high altitudes on the rim of the Drakensberg escarpment. All along the N5 one can can enjoy fabulous scenery of unusual sandstone outcrops. This is also the Gateway to the Golden Gate National Park.
This is straightforward pass over a low point in the mountains known as Grootnek - about midway between Rosendal and Ficksburg in the Free State. There is only one minor bend in the road and a small altitude gain of 85m producing a very easy average gradient of only 1:73. The steeper sections are on the southern descent which present at 1:14. The only danger on this pass is when snow occurs, when it should be avoided altogether unless you are in a 4WD vehicle equipped with appropriate equipment. The pass offers grand scenery over the mountains of the southern Free State.
A short easy pass gaining only 60m in altitude over 2,7 km producing an average gradient of 1:45, but there are some fairly steep sections just before and after the summit at 1:7. The pass climbs up a side ravine of the Magaliesberg range opposite the mountain called Donkerhoek. The road is labelled as the R104 and is the old main road between Pretoria and Bronkhorstspruit and is located approximately halfway between the two. The pass is relatively safe providing the speed limit of 80 kph is complied with. The road is suitable for all vehicles.
A 5 km long long climb through a nek with fairly easy gradients along the tarred R76 road between Steynsrus and Lindley in the Eastern Free State - Lindley was a significant historical Anglo-Boer war battle site where the British 47th Imperial Yeomanry were routed and captured by the Boer forces. Lindley was once the seat of power of the Free State. It was also the birthplace of South-Africa's most famous rugby player - Dr. Danie Craven.
A short, twisty and steep mountain pass that winds up the side of the Slangkop mountain offering sweeping views over the rugged Atlantic coastline with perfect views of the Slangkop Lighthouse. The pass is old and the tarred surface is not as smooth as more modern roads. It climbs 102 metres over 3,58 km producing an average gradient of 1:39 with the steeper sections presenting at 1:14. Since the new shortcut via Ocean View was built, this old road has quickly become one of the Peninsula's roads 'less travelled'. Don't miss out on this one - it's a real gem!
Another scenic suburban pass near Cape Town that connects the Peninsula villages of Sun Valley and Noordhoek with Simonstown via a wide, safe and modern road, better known as the Glencairn Expressway which carries the M6 route tag. The 5,39 km long road descends 139 vertical metres, producing an average gradient of 1:39 with the steepest sections being at 1:14. The road is popular with cyclists as a hill training route and offers wide safety shoulders. Simonstown is the most southerly town on the Cape Peninsula and boasts a host of scenic attractions.
The Kingscote Cutting is an impressive example of road engineering where the hills have been carved into to make a safe and more level driving surface. It's named after the nearby Kingscote farm and lasts for 4,3 km descending a total of 260 vertical metres, producing an average gradient of 1:17. It's located on the tarred R617 route between Kokstad and Underberg with sublime views of the Drakensberg for most of the distance.
This a big pass of 14,6 km climbing 436m from the south to summit at Brook's Nek at 1616m ASL which is also the border between the two provinces. There are many sharp bends along the pass and an enforced 80 kph speed limit exists for your safety. The pass forms part of the N2 highway between Mount Ayliff and Kokstad. It's subject to heavy mountain mists in summer and snowfalls in winter.
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.
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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