The Western Cape

A gravel road through a Karoo style poort of 5,56 km with comfortable gradients and rugged scenery. This is one of many farm roads that traverse the vast area of the Karoo. The towns are far apart and travellers need to be well prepared in case of a breakdown. This pass has the potential to form a clockwise loop from the Blounek Pass to rejoin the R381 much further north. This is a 'well off the beaten track' pass that will satisfy those that seek the wild and rugged roads of South Africa.

Basterspoort is about as minor a poort as what a poort can get. It is just 1,9 km long and only has a 12m altitude variance. It's located on a farm track which is barely discernable on the satellite imagery close to the border between the Western and Northern Cape.  This is an official poort as listed on the government 1:50,000 maps. It should not be confused with Bastards Poort about 80 km further south.

The road follows the valley of a natural poort along the south-western side of a mountain named Beesberg. (Cattle Mountain) and connects a few remote farms. It is possible to drive from the R381 to the R356 using this road and a combination of other roads. There is a possibility that this road (and others) might be gated and locked, so if you're an uber pass hunter, drive here at your own risk and make sure you have enough fuel in case you have to retrace your route.

We have not physically driven this pass ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps.

Just north of the Outeniqua mountains along the N9 national route lies a pass that very few people know exists, despite the fact the thousands of vehicles commute over the route daily. The Beveraas Kloof is formed by the north flowing Waboomskraal river that descends from the summit area of the Outeniqua Pass and is fed by at least three powerful tributaries. This lovely section of roadway is mostly overlooked compared to the limelight which inevitably goes to the nearby Outeniqua Pass. The Beveraas Kloof Pass is fairly short at 4,6 km and presents an altitude variance of only 60m producing an easy average gradient of 1:115 with the steepest parts being at 1:11. This road is technically much more of a poort than a pass. It's named after the original farm Beveraas Kloof, which is located on the western side of the road and is frequently listed with the slightly different spelling of Beverass, which is typical of how older names get changed over time to suit a local dialect.

This is an easy gravel road drive with small gains/losses in altitude. Technically it does not resemble a mountain pass at all and is merely a pretty drive along the northern bank of the Biedouw River and involves some sharp turns and a minor change in altitude. What it lacks in statistics, it certainly makes up for in scenic beauty as the Biedouw River Valley is one of those tranquil, off the beaten track places that ends in a dead end at the head of the valley for most of the year, as the river crossing towards the end is too deep to cross. It's a place of steep mountains, crystal clear streams, stunning displays of spring flowers and old farm dwellings.

Another scenic suburban pass near Cape Town that connects the Peninsula villages of Sun Valley and Noordhoek with Simonstown via a wide, safe and modern road, better known as the Glencairn Expressway which carries the M6 route tag. The 5,39 km long road descends 139 vertical metres, producing an average gradient of 1:39 with the steepest sections being at 1:14. The road is popular with cyclists as a hill training route and offers wide safety shoulders. Simonstown is the most southerly town on the Cape Peninsula and boasts a host of scenic attractions.

The Blinkberg Pass (translated as 'Glittering or Shining Mountain') is a fairly long pass, found on the much revered gravel road (the P1482) through the southern Cederberg. The Grootrivierhoogte Pass and Blinkberg Pass run concurrently for a distance of almost 20km through magnificent and rugged scenery.

The pass has an unusual vertical profile in that it has two false summits located approximately at the 1/3 and 2/3 points. Each of these is marked by a short tarred section to cope with the very steep gradients. At 11,8 km this a long pass and is peppered with corners, but most of these are fairly easy. There are however, some really nasty ones, which can catch unsuspecting drivers by surprise.

The road traverses spectacular Cederberg mountain scenery and follows a narrow kloof for most of its length. Earmark this one if you've never driven it, as it's one of the nicest gravel roads in South Africa.

The Bloukranspas translates directly from Afrikaans into 'Blue Grag's Pass'.  Master pass-builder, Thomas Bain, relished the challenge of planning a route through both of the formidable obstacles of the Grootrivier and Bloukrans gorges within the Tsitsikamma Forests, when the government first started considering a coastal road between Port Elizabeth and Plettenberg Bay in the 1880's. The Bloukrans Pass is one of the most revered and respected passes in South Africa. It is a sad indictment that this road has been allowed to degenerate into such a state of disrepair that it has now been declared closed to traffic. This pass is surely worthy of National Monument status! 

There are three Blounek passes in South Africa and all of them are of a minor nature. This one is located on the gravel road between Merweville in the north and the Koup railway siding off the N1 in the south. It's not much of a pass at 2 km in length with a small altitude variance of 42m producing an easy average gradient of 1:48 with the steepest sections reaching 1:11.

The pass only has 2 bends and if you have not plotted the start and end points into your GPS, you might drive over it without realising it's an official pass.

The best reason for driving this pass is that it will take you to the little village of Merweville, which is packed with interesting buildings, fascinating history and earthy, friendly people.

We have not physically driven this pass ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps. The possibility exists that you might encounter locked farm gates. Make sure you have sufficient fuel to backtrack.

A short traverse of a natural gap between two Karoo koppies, known as Blounek - on the R381/P0058 about midway between the Molteno Pass in the south and the Roseberg Pass in the north. This is a relatively minor pass by modern standards and it involves only a single gentle right hand bend and a small gain in elevation of just 59m. This pass should not be confused with another Blounek Pass on the R63 between Williston and Carnarvon.

This is the final of a trio of passes and poorts on the P1721 route when travelling from west to east. It follows the course of the Bloupunt river and its tributary as it heads into an ever steepening poort of twisted and contorted rock formations to terminate at the northern end of Meiringspoort. It's downhill all the way for the 3,29 km length of the poort with an easy average gradient of 1:29. There are a few cattle grids on the route and one farm gate which must be closed after passing through.

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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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