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 left 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.
The Botterkloof pass is a fairly substantial altitude gaining pass in the Northern Cape between Clanwilliam and Calvinia. It is the third of a trio of passes on the R364 route for those travelling from west to east. In rainy weather or snowy conditions, this pass can become very tricky; even in a 4WD vehicle. The pass descends a total of 345m over a distance of 11,3 km producing an average gradient of 1:33 with the steepest parts measuring in at 1:10. There are sections near the summit with near vertical, unguarded drop-offs, which can be a bit intimidating for drivers unaccustomed to feeling so exposed. The more dramatic part of the pass is in the first 2,5 km near the summit.
The origins of the name are probably due to the large number of Botterbome that grow in the kloof. Tylecodon paniculatus can reach heights of 2 m, making it the largest of the tylecodons. It is summer deciduous. The plants conserve energy by photosynthesising through their greenish stems during the hot dry summer months. The yellowish-green, papery bark is a very attractive feature of this plant and has given rise to the common name. During the winter, plants are covered with long, obovate, succulent leaves clustered around the apex of the growing tip.The botterboom is poisonous to stock, causing 'krimpsiekte'. In the past, the smooth, slippery stems were sometimes used to slide or ski at great speed down smooth rock faces or dam walls, adrenaline rushes before the days of bungy jumping!
This short, gravel pass is located just north of the Biedouw Valley/Wupperthal turn-off on the R 364. Despite it's relatively low altitude, the views from the summit are well worth stopping for, as the plains of the Karoo stretch out in a seemingly endless horizon dotted with koppies and serried ranks of mountain ridges. In springtime, this is one of the best flower spotting routes. The pass is one of three that lie on the R364 between Clanwilliam (WC) and Nieuwoudtville / Calvinia (NC) - the other two being the Pakhuis Pass to the west and the Botterkloof Pass further to the east. Both are featured on this website.
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.
This beautiful tarred pass forms part of the R27 between Vanrhynsdorp and Nieuwoudtville and was originally built and designed by Thomas Bain. It is just under 9 km in length and climbs 595m to summit at 825m ASL, producing an average gradient of 1:15 with the steepest sections being at l:12. This is a well engineered pass with a good safety record providing you stick to the speed limits. This is amongst the top 10 passes of the Northern Cape and is a must drive offering grand views, tight chicane style corners and lots of variety. The pass is named after Petrus Benjamin Van Rhyn - a clergyman, politician and member of parliament in the old mission settlement of Troe-Troe. The town's name was changed in 1881 to Vanrhynsdorp.
Studers Pass is a serious altitude gaining gravel pass located between Garies and the small settlements of Leliesfontein and Paulshoek in Namaqualand. The pass is the gateway to some of the finest wild-flower displays and forms part of a circular tourism route incorporating the best of Namaqualand. It is a pure and backward part of South Africa, mainly untouched by the heavy hand of progress. A place to rejuvenate your spirit.
Although this is a long pass with a big altitude variance, the average gradients are very reasonable and the pass can be driven in most vehicles, providing the weather is fair. As the case with all gravel passes, conditions can change very quickly for the worse during periods of heavy rain.
Ottaspoort Pass is a secondary farm style gravel road designated as the P2937, that connects farms with Garies in the north-west and Loeriesfontein in the south-east. It is located about 35 km south-east of Garies and is accessible off the R358 or the the N7 depending on your direction of approach. The poort runs on the east/west axis close the border of the Western and Northern Cape.
This short poort is just over 1 km in length and rises just 24 metres. It forms part of the R358 route between Bitterfontein and Loeriesfontein in Namaqualand. If you want to get away from it all - this is a good place to escape to. You might find a few cars here during the flower season of August and September, but for the rest of the year, you will probably be the only vehicle on the road. The poort is so-named after the red rocks found in the walls of the poort. It's best to add the GPS coordinates of this poort into your GPS, otherwise you will probably not be aware of it. In terms of technical complexity, this little poort is insignificant with only one minor bend and a tiny altitude variance.
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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