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 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!
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.
The Bo-Swaarmoed Pass (sometimes also referred to as the Uitkomst Pass - after the farm at the foot of the pass) is located to the north of the Swaarmoed Pass, a few kilometers after the Matroosberg/Erfdeel turn-off. It is a gravel road that connects the summit of the Swaarmoed Pass 2,5 km north of the Erfdeel farm, where the tar road is boomed off to a private fruit farm and nature reserve, with the farm Uitkoms in the lower valley to the north. (They have dropped the "t" off from the old Dutch name.)
This lovely poort offers rugged scenery as it crosses and recrosses a river bed multiples of times along the length of the poort over basic stony drifts. The poort lies close to the Floriskraal Dam, which is the main water supply to the Karoo town of Laingsburg, perhaps most famous for the devastating 1981 flood. In the event of a flash flood, this poort would be a death trap, as can be seen in the video footage. The poort can be accessed off the R323 tar road from Laingsburg to Seweweekspoort and it ends in a dead-end, being mainly a farm service road. The most scenic sections lie on the western side of the poort.
This short, but steep gravel pass lies on private property at the farm Tierfontein, but can be accessed by guests staying at Ko-Ka Tsara bush camp. This pass is for experienced offroad motorcyclists and 4x4 vehicles with low range. The pass, named after the almost extinct Bontebok (but now flourishing, thanks to the efforts of conservationists) takes one from the Gamka river valley to the top of the mountain and provides access from there via the high plateau to the eastern side of the Gamka Dam.
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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