This is one of several small poorts that have been carved through the east-west running mountains to the north of the R329 and R407 over a long distance stretching from Klaarstroom in the west to Steytlerville in the east. All of these poorts run along the north-south axis and many of them look like carbon copies of the previous one, yet there are subtle differences in each poort's geographical and geological features which sets one apart from the other.
Witpoort is a perfect example of one of these poorts. It is just 1,8 km long, has two minor bends and a tiny altitude variance of 19m. The railway line, road and river all compress within the confines of the poort and as is the case with all of these poorts, this one too is prone to flash floods.
The usual gravel road cautionaries apply of corrugations, loose gravel on corners, ruts, washaways, livestock on the road and ever present danger of punctures. Travel here well prepared and make sure you have pre-planned your route carefully noting all the intersections. Many of them have no signage, so it's easy to get lost.
This scenic drive provides an interesting and easy traverse of the poort that has been carved out by the Trakarivier. Although the road is virtually flat with only a 20m altitude variance over the 4,1 km length, it does include 4 crossings of the same river. For 99% of the year, these bridgeless crossings are very easy as the river bed is usually bone dry. The road forms a complex network of farm roads that service the remote farms west and north of Willowmore through a range of ridges and hills 15 km north the Swartberg mountains. It's easy to get lost here and many of the intersections have no signage. Travel well prepared with waypoints pre-plotted in your GPS.
Cautionaries: Like all gravel roads, conditions can change very quickly during or after heavy rain. Rivers in the Karoo are universally shallow and wide and prone to flash floods. If you're trapped inside a poort during a flash flood, it could prove to be life threatening. There are many similar poorts in this region and most of them display the same geographical tendencies.
This short poort is located on a minor gravel road between Victoria West and Loxton. It's only just over a kilometre long and has a small altitude variance of 33m. It's a very long drive locating this little poort and only the most dedicated pass hunters will make the big effort to drive it.
To make up for its relatively unimpressive statistics, you will experience an intense of isolation and the wide and barren expanses of the Karoo always has landscapes of note to enjoy.
The usual gravel road cautionaries apply of corrugations, ruts and washaways as well as loose gravel on the corners. IT's best to expect to get a puncture. If you don't have two spare wheels, travel with a repair kit and know how to use it. A portable compressor is a useful addition to your tool kit.
Tolletjie se Poort is a minor pass/poort of 1,9 km with two false summits that conencts with Koppie se Nek in the north and the Ouberg Pass in the south forming a continuous back to back pass with both of them. The two false summits are each separated by a stream crossing. The gradients reach 1:14 in places which make this poort suitable for all vehicles.
When driving this poort, in reality it neither resembles the typical features of a poort (a road that follows the course of a river) nor a pass as there are no sharp corners, no cuttings or steep drop-offs. However, it is an official pass and is marked as such on the government maps.
If you're a pass hunter, you had better enter the GPS coordinates of this one, otherwise you might not even notice it, especially if travelling from south to north, as you will have just ascended the impressive Ouberg Pass. This poort starts exactly at the summit point of the Ouberg Pass.
This is a minor little poort of 1,5 km tucked into an east-west running ridge called Rooirant just off the R381 between Beaufort West and Loxton in the Great Karoo. It's quite a mission finding it, involving complex navigation through a number of farm roads. The poort only has a 10m altitude variance, so don't expect exciting driving through this one, as the average gradient is a very gentle 1:150 and the steepest section is at 1:16.
However, it's often the complete sense of solitude that brings the greatest rewards on these far flung farm roads and perhaps the opportunity of spotting some rare bird or animal not normally seen on the busier roads, that bring the greatest rewards.
This minor poort is 1,9 km long and displays a small altitude variance of 39m. As is typical of all poorts, the road follows the course of the river sweeping through a single S-bend with big changes in direction and corners exceeding 150 degrees radius. It is named after the Kranskop farm through which it traverses.
The Pienaarspoortrivier that has carved this path through the mountain ridge forms a confluence with the dominant river in the region - the Grootrivier, which has a huge drainage area and drops through many more major poorts before joining the Kouga River east of Patensie, where the name changes to the Gamtoos River.
This short, minor poort is located in the southern ridges of Grootrivierberge, near Steytlerville. The poort is named after the farm over which is traverses. It's a very short poort of only 1,8 km and displays an altitude variance of 46m producing an easy average gradient of 1:39.
There are many poorts along these east-west running ridges and this is a good example of one of the smaller ones. Many of these poorts look similar due to the consistent nature of the topography, yet each one has it's own unique character. The roads here are quiet and dusty, so you will always find the time and space element, despite the relatively minor nature of the statistics.
Both the nearby towns of Willowmore and Steytlerville have fascinating histories and worth spending time in.
This is an official poort, and is marked as such on the 1:50,000 topographical maps, but it is almost impossible to distinguish the actual poort itself from the surrounding landscape. Unless you have a burning desire to drive every pass in South Africa, give this one a miss! It is far off the beaten track, and has no real redeeming features. The road is in a good condition and can be driven in a normal vehicle, provided that the weather is dry. It had rained in the area on the night before the day on which we filmed this pass (not on the pass itself), and the approach roads were a muddy nightmare. Our 4x4 vehicle coped admirably with the conditions, but it was evident that other vehicles had not been so fortunate, judging by the tracks snaking all over the road.
This easy gravel poort is located roughly midway between Steytlerville and Willowmore. It is the first pass or poort on this pleasant gravel road (the P1861) which is followed by a number of poorts of various lengths. The gradients are very easy through this poort, which average out at 1:178 which is about as close to flat as you can get. The road carries minimal traffic (mainly local farmers) and you will immediately experience a sense of solitude. Watch out for animals on the road - both domestic and wild animals.
The road is in reasonable condition, but like all gravel roads, it is subject to corrugations, washaways, loose gravel and flash floods. We recommend tyre deflation to 1.4 bar for improved traction, a softer ride and a reduction in the chance of getting a puncture.
Biesiepoort is located just to the south of the N10, the national road which connects Upington with the Namibian border post at Nakop. The word “biesie” translates from Afrikaans to English as “bulrush”, but it could also refer to any of the family of reeds which are used to weave indigenous household items such as sleeping mats or wicker furniture. The poort itself, although very pretty, is quite insignificant, but the area in which it is located typifies the Kalahari landscape and is an unforgettable drive.
The road is in a good condition and can be traversed in any vehicle, although there are large patches of soft sand. Watch out for small animals such as mongooses, and be particularly careful not to run over the large monitor lizards (leguaans) which are commonly found moving slowly across the 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.
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.