This scenic gravel poort is located about 10 km to the south-east of Springbok on the gravel R355 road to Loeriesfontein. It's named after the Eendoring farm near the western end of the poort. The R355 is a wide, gravel road which is generally maintained to a good standard, but it is prone to corrugations. The poort lies just south of the well known Goegap Nature Reserve and is 5,5 km long with an easy average gradient of 1:51, but there are one or two short sections where things get as steep as 1:11. The scenery is excellent, regardless of what time of year you drive along this road. The wide, sandy plains, interspered with jumbled granite peaks and ridges, perfect northern sunshine and the ubiquitous kokerbome, provides photographers with ample opportunities for great photography and for the rest - simply a place to enjoy the peace and tranquility.
This easy gravel poort meanders through a cluster of low granite hills on the R355 between Springbok to the west and Loeriesfontein which is 200 km to the south. The gradients are easy and the corners are wide, making this poort relatively safe. The only cautionaries worth noting are those of corrugations - the severity which depends on when last the road was graded - and dust. This part of the Northern Cape is seldom windy, so dust trails tend to 'hang' over the road for quite a while, which can severely reduce visibility.
At 10,3 km the poort is well above the national average and it only displays an altitude variance of 116m, resulting in a very mild average gradient of 1:89, with the steepest parts being at 1:20.
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 pass lives up to it's name in every way, as it's long, packed with corners and steep gradients and more importantly it offers spectacular scenery. It connects the capital town of the Northern Cape (Springbok) with the mining town of Kleinzee and carries the road number P0745 which is a clear indicator that this was once a fairly minor road. It now falls under route number R355, which terminates at Kleinzee in the west at the coast. As Kleinzee is an important diamond mining centre, the road has been upgraded to a high quality standard to carry the heavier traffic associated with mining. At 17,5 km it's amongst the longer South African passes and whilst the average gradient pans out at a mild 1:31, there are several steeper sections at 1:8.
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)
This historical gravel road pass was built between 1867 and 1869. It's a long pass at almost 17 km and it has a substantial altitude variance of 383m which produces a fairly mild average gradient of 1:44, but the vast majority of the steeper gradients occur on the eastern side of the pass, where there are some steep sections at 1:5.
Fortunately it seldom rains here, so the road is generally quite safe for non 4WD vehicles. The scenery along which the road traverses is exceptionally dramatic with towering rock faces and a generally bone-dry river bed in view most of the time. This road is not suitable for cars lacking good ground clearance. This pass should be viewed in tandem with the Wildeperdehoek Pass as they are inseparably linked, both geographically and historically.
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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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