The Northern Cape

Quaggasfontein Poort translates into 'The pass of the fountain of the Quagga'. No doubt the extinct Quagga once roamed here. It is a minor poort of just 2 km in length and only rises 32 meters in altitude to produce an easy average gradient of 1:63. There is a steeper section right at the southern entrance of the poort at 1:11. This is a gravel road in typical 'farm style' condition, but it is driveable in a normal car and there are no apparent dangers other than the usual gravel road issues of corrugations with the resultant loss of traction.

 

 



This poort is named after what is considered to be the world's toughest animal - the Honey Badger (Afr. Ratel). So fierce is it's reputation that the South African Defence Force named one of it's armoured vehicles the Ratel. It's possible that badgers were found here in the past, but a more likely scenario is that the land here is considered to be so harsh as to be compared with the 'tough as nails' Ratel. The poort is quite awkward to define, but the Ratelpoort itself is merely the traverese through the obvious nek towards the southern side of the poort over a distinct ridge of east-west running mountains. From there it continues climbing up a northern ridge known as Vrieshoogte (Freezing Heights), to summit between two prominent granite peaks on either side of the road at 913m ASL after 4,3 km.

This 4 km poort lies in the Hantam Karoo approximately 40 km north-east of Carnarvon. It functions primarily to link the local farming community and is accessed from the R384 in the south or the R386 in the north. It only rises and falls 22 meters producing an average gradient of 1:178 (easy enough for a child in a pedal car!) with the steepest part being 1:12. There are no apparent dangers in the poort other than animals on the road. Being a poort with several streams feeding it, this poort will be subject to flooding. It is best avoided in those rare circumstances. Once upon a time, rhino's roamed this poort. The rest is sad history.....We've posted a pic on the video cover as a stark reminder of what once was.



The Richtersberg Pass is a dramatic, but fairly short pass which forms part of the final access road to reach the Richtersberg camp-sites and the Tatasberg chalets. The pass is 2,3 km long and has an altitude variance of 107m, producing an average gradient of 1:21. There is only a single, fairly short technical section, where low range should be used which is at the summit point, where the road is both very steep, as well as rough. The gradient gets as steep as 1:5 at this neck.

The views throughout the pass are magnificent as the road produces a variety of mountain and desert floor perspectives. 

Here is a mountain pass at the outer edge of the scale. Most people would take one look at the state of the road surface and back off completely, but for the few hardy souls with a sense of adventure percolating in their veins, this is one of those extreme passes that need to be ticked off the list.

This is a brutally tough dead-end road, packed with large rocks and very steep gradients and provides access to a sandy bend in the Orange River about 36 km ESE (as the crow flies) from Vioolsdrif. You need to be experienced for this one and preferably drive in a group with full recovery equipment on hand.

Expect soft sand, sharp rocks and corrugations and don't be in a hurry. The road is a dead end and you have to retrace your route back to the start, when youre done enjoying the solitude of the river and the desert. This one is beyond a road less travelled.

This is another of those Northern Cape passes, which leaves one wondering how this ever became an official pass, as there is really not much to it all with an altitude variance of only 16m and an average gradient of 1:150, it's hardly going to get the adrenaline flowing. The countryside is however, well worth any distance you will have travelled getting there and offers space, tranquility and the most wonderful sense of timelessness that only the Karoo can offer. In addition this is the perfect area to test your navigation skills as many of the intersections are unmarked, so getting lost here is a piece of cake.

Stop next to a windmill under the shade of a thorn tree and allow the Rooihoogte to sink into your soul.

This smallish pass of 2.8 km in length lies a few kilometers south of Sutherland in the Northern Cape on the tarred R356 route. It is named after the only farm in the kloof, which is located on the left hand side (east) of the road towards the northern end of the kloof next to a small stream. This is not a major pass, but it has a fair altitude gain and few gentle turns to compliment the scenery in the kloof. It's a fairly safe road with a good track record. If it is snowing, the usual cautionaries for snow driving apply.

This fairly minor poort is located approximately 30 km north-east of Sutherland and 75 km south-west of Fraserburg in the Northern Cape. In other words, more or less in the middle of nowhere! The 6 km long poort is gravel and is designated as the R356. It is generally maintained to a good standard and summits at 1487m ASL.

 

 

On most maps, Sebico Pass is designated as a public road, but it is obvious when you arrive at the location that the traverse is across privately-owned land. We cannot discover any clues as to how this pass got its name. On the official 1:50000 topographical maps, the name is spelled as “Sebiko Pass”, with a “k”, but we can find no other references on the internet with this spelling. It is situated about 40 km south-east of Britstown, a small town located at the intersection of the N10 and the N12 in the Northern Cape. The “road” is nothing more than a rough track, and should not be attempted without a 4x4 vehicle. Although difficult to find and with potential permission issues, it is worth the effort if you are an avid pass-chaser, off-road enthusiast or adventure motorcyclist.

 

This steep gravel pass traverses the farm with the unusual name of Bloedsmaak (The taste of blood) and climbs 185m over 2 kms to summit at 695m ASL producing a stiff gradient of 1:5 on the steeper sections. The locals only refer to this pass as the Bloedsmaak Pass (or more poetically in the unique style of the Namaqualanders) - Bloedsmaak se Hoog. Ask them about a Skuinshoogte Pass and you will get a negative response. The condition of the road is generally quite good and it should be noted that there are two farm gates to open and close. This pass will need to be traversed by anyone intending to drive the Langkloof Pass, which starts very close to where this pass ends. The pass is located about 12 km east of Garies on a minor gravel road - the P2943. It is suitable for all vehicles, although in very wet weather it could be problematic for non 4WD vehciles near the summit.

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Mountain Passes South Africa

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.
 

Master Orientation Map

Master Orientation Map 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.

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