This decidedly steep, gravel pass offers excellent scenery of the granite clad mountain plateaus of Namaqualand. it's located at the small settlement of Leliefontein, where the huge Sentech tower dominates the summit point of the pass, about 20 km ESE of Kamieskroon and 34 km NNE of Garies.
The pass is 3,9 km long and displays an altitude variance of 182m, producing an average gradient of 1:21, with the steepest parts on the northern side of the summit presenting as steep as 1:7. During the rainy season, things can get slippery and muddy at this high altitude plateau and lightweight front wheel drive cars might experience a loss of traction. At all other times of the year, the pass is perfectly suitable for all vehicles. Watch out for corrugations as well as a couple of blind rises and corners.
Darters Poort is one of those official passes that leaves you wondering if you're in the right place. The pass has only one gentle curve towards it's northern end and climbs a fairly insignificant 62m over it's 3,6 km length. The poort does however have significant historical value as it is is named after a British sharpshooter Lt. Charles James Darter who was ambushed and killed near the poort in 1902 right at the end of the second Anglo-Boer war. His grave is located just south of Kamieskroon on the N7 and is popularly referred to as the smallest part of Britain in the world.
The poort is located on the N7 Cape-Namibia route approximately 14 km south of Kamieskroon. It forms part of a quartet of altitude gaining passes and poorts between Garies and Springbok - the others being Garieshoogte, Brakdam se Hoogte and Burke's passes. You will need to enter the GPS coordinates so that you realise you are at the poort.
This pass is located on the N7 national road between Garies and Kamieskroon, more commonly known as the Cape-Namibia Route. It gains 186 vertical metres over 4,6 km producing a fairly easy average gradient of 1:25 with the steepest parts presenting at 1:11. This is relatively new version of the pass, with the original road still being clearly visible to the west (left) of the new road. The road offers at least four substantial cuttings, two of them which are quite deep with almost vertical sides, as is the case with the most of the passes in this region where the hard granite rocks make for stable rock faces.
Namaqualand plays host to a number of great gravel passes. The Kamiesberg Pass is the closest of them in terms of accessibility and commences just a stone's throw away from the N7 highway. This pass is also called the Kamieshoogte Pass and is sometimes spelt as Kammiesberg with a double 'm'. The pass has an altitude variance of 306 vertical metres to summit at 1114m ASL after 5,5 km producing an average gradient of 1:18. The road mainly carries farm type traffic, except during the spring flower season when the traffic volumes increase substantially as the tourists arrive in droves.
This steep gravel pass connects the high plateau near Kamieskroon with the lower coastal belt and Killians Pass to the Namaqua National Park, Hondeklipbaai and Soebatsfontein. The pass descends 277 vertical metres over 3,83 km, producing a stiff average gradient of 1:14 with some steep sections at 1:5. Despite the steep gradients, the pass is generally in a dry condition, due to the arid climate and can be driven in a normal sedan vehicle. Together with its sister pass, Killians Pass, they form the southern gateway to the Namaqua National Park.
Burke's Pass is a good quality, tarred road on the N7 highway about 24 km South West of the Northern Cape town of Springbok. The pass is 4,9 km long and has an altitude variance of 184 vertical meters with a summit height of 701m. It falls within the Namaqualand region and is ablaze with the most wondrous wild flower displays in springtime (August and September).
This current pass along the N7 is a far cry from the original Burke's Pass which took a completely different line through the granite mountains circa 1850 and then a 100 years later a much better road (also gravel) took a line up the next kloof to the west, but over a more convoluted and complex routing. The latest version of the pass along the N7 dates back to around 1995, which itself has been realigned and improved to better geometric standards a number of times. (See the aerial photo lower down of the three routes)
Baillie's Pass is a minor gravel pass with major historical value, located some 35 km due east of the small Namaqualand village of Kamieskroon, which is itself located on the N7 highway from Cape Town to Namibia. The pass was built by the Reverend John A. Baillie from 1853 1863 to enable his parishioners to attend his church. The pass is just 1,8 km long but climbs quite steeply at gradients as steep as 1:6 over a nek in the granite smothered ridges. The road is generally maintained to a reasonable level, but corrugations and hanging dust are often problematic in this area. The road is suitable for all vehicles. The old hand-built supporting stone walls of the original pass can still be clearly seen on the right hand side (east) of the road.
Many respected resources on the internet list Baillie's Pass (Bailey's Pass sic) with Pypmaker se Poort in brackets as the alternative name. This is completely incorrect, as Pypmaker se Poort, although fairly close to Baillie's Pass, is on a different road altogether. The only site that got this one right, is Tracks4Africa. Also note the correct spelling of Baillie. Most sites also show this pass as being about 6 km long, which is also incorrect.
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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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