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The Northern Cape

This small pass is named after the mountain Kariegakop [1439,7m] which lies immediately to the north and forms a neck with the much bigger Kareekasberge to the south. The pass runs along the east-west axis and offers some very stiff gradients on the western side of the summit, where there are wonderful views waiting for the patient traveller - especially the view looking back into the west is wonderful. This pass is best driven in the morning from west to east to maximise on the tranquil Karoo scenery.

It's not a long pass at 3,4 km and it only takes 5 minutes to complete it. The road was in good condition on the day of filming, but like all gravel roads, conditions can change rapidly depending on the weather. The P2270 connects with the R354 off the Oupoort Pass, then branches off into the east into a maze of farm roads, eventually terminating in Williston. You will need a good GPS loaded with Tracks4Africa and will have done some advance planning before setting off into this part of the Northern Cape.

This poort primarily serves the local farming community to the south of Calvinia in the Northern Cape's Tankwa Karoo. It is a rough gravel road that runs on the North-West/South east axis through the Keiskie Mountains. The poort is named after the mountain range through which it traverses as well as the Keiskie farm, which lies 4 km to the south east of the poort. It connects the central sheep farming town of Calvinia with Middelpos - a minute hamlet of some 6 buildings including a post office and an hotel - 60 km to the South East.

Technically, this is not a poort, but a small mountain pass over a nek. It only takes four minutes to drive it, so do take the time to stop at the spacious view-site at the summit to enjoy the wide views over the mountains and plains. Here it is so still, you can hear your heart beating.

Whilst this is a basic farm road, it does provide a thoroughly enjoyable alternate gravel road drive to visitors to the Tankwa Karoo. The road can de driven as a circular loop of approximately 2 hours duration which will curve back towards the R355 and Calvinia to the North of the Bloukrans Pass. The pass rises 150 meters over 2.9 km producing an average gradient of a stiff l:15 with the steepest section being l:5.

It can be driven in any vehicle, but a high clearance vehicle is preferable. Be careful of the very sharp corner halfway up the pass

Kiewiet Se Hoogte is a minor gravel road pass located near Loxton in the Northern Cape. “Kiewiet” is the Afrikaans name for a species of bird, originally called a plover in English, but more recently referred to as a lapwing. It is most likely that the subspecies which gave its moniker to the pass is the Blacksmith Lapwing, whose vernacular name is derived from its repeated metallic “tink, tink, tink” alarm call, reminiscent of the sound a blacksmith’s hammer makes as it strikes an anvil.

Killians Pass is located on a gravel road (P2945) about 20 km due west of Kamieskroon on the N7 in the heart of Namaqualand on the way to Soebatsfontein. To the west of the pass the road forks, with the lelt hand fork heading to Hondeklipbaai on the Atlantic coast, whilst the right hand route heads northwards to Komaggas. The pass is not a major one in terms of altitude gained or distance, but it is very steep in places with gradients of 1:5 over certain sections. Due to the arid climate, rain seldom falls here, which makes the pass reasonably safe to drive at almost any time of the year.

This 3 km long pass packs plenty of action and grand scenery into it's short distance, gaining 208 vertical metres in the process. It's a slow, bumpy drive and you will be negotiating no less than 28 bends, corners and curves of which 7 exceed 90 degrees. The road surface is narrow and rough with a strong possibility of picking up a puncture on the hundreds of thousands of sharp rocks.

The road traverses the Koedoesberge (a strong indicator that kudu were plentiful here in the 19th century) and has its western end virtually on the border of the Western and Northern Cape.

When watching the video look for the truck and tractor wreck down the side of the ravine at 2min 05 secs.

The Komsberg Pass is located approximately 40 km to the south-west of Sutherland. It's named after the mountain down which it traverses. It is a gravel road (P2243) and gets fairly steep in places. It has a maximum gradient of 1:5 and an average gradient of 1:13 which is produced over a distance of 3,9 km. In wet weather (a rare occurrence) or snow, this pass will need to be driven in a 4WD vehicle. Avoid it completely in heavy snow as there are some sections with negative cross-flow, which could result in a rollover.

One of the points of interest of this pass is that the official notice board at the summit gives the incorrect altitude (1721m). The correct altitude measured with a 12 sattellite GPS reading is 1654m. which concurs with the reading on Google Earth. Effectively, this makes the official board wrong by 67m. Errors like this frequently slip into official signage, but this is one of the biggest margins of error we have yet come across.

The pass mimics the line of the Verlatenkloof Pass which is 23 km to the north-west and offers a gravel descent down the same mountain range, as opposed to the much busier tarred version on the R354. As a bonus, you get to drive another two smaller passes along the same route. These are the Smoushoogte and Bakenshoogte passes.

This is an easy tarred pass on the R357 main route between Nieuwoudtville in the south and Loeriesfontein in the north. The pass is fairly short at 2,8 km and has an altitude variance of 118m, producing a moderate average gradient of 1:24 with the steepest section near the summit as steep as 1:10. The road surface was good at the time of production in June 2016 and the pass holds no obvious dangers. It is suitable for all vehicles, subject to fine weather and speed limits and barrier lines being adhered to.

This fairly long pass of 7,3 km has an interesting profile and consists of two summits and a twisty section down into a narrow poort. Although the average gradient is a very mild 1:140, the short descent down into the river valley at the 4,3 km mark gets as steep as 1:12. This road offers a wide variety of scenery and is one of the more interesting of the isolated Northern Cape passes. The name must have an interesting origin, but we were unable to find a single trace of where the name originated. About 6 km south of this pass, there is quite a tricky river crossing, which could be the undoing of many a vehicle.

There are at least another two passes with the same name, one in the Western Cape and confusingly, another in the Northern Cape near Garies. This pass is aptly named, as it is both a long ravine and it passes through a range of mountains called the Langberge. The road is in a reasonable condition and can be driven in any vehicle in good weather, but on the day of filming the road had been recently resurfaced and was covered with sharp stones, so if this is the case, the chances of getting a puncture are fairly high. The area is quite remote, with only a few farms interspersed along the route, so if you are going to drive the pass, it might be a good idea to let somebody know where you are going.

The 13,7 km long Langkloof Pass (Long ravine or valley) lies deep in the Namaqualand mountains. It parallels the N7 some 30 kms further east and connects Garies with the farming communities of the Langkloof as well as providing a link with Leliefontein, Kheis and Paulshoek further north. The road also provides several circular route options as an enjoyable day drive. If you visit here in springtime (August and September), you will be treated to one of natures miracles as the sun-parched landscape transforms into endless carpets of multi-coloured wild-flowers. Visitors both local and international are attracted to this part of Namaqualand in their droves.

 

 

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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.
 

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