fbpx

The Western Cape

The Jan Muller Pass is a short, steep pass, with a descent and ascent over the Gouritz River via a low level concrete bridge, which is also named after Jan Muller. It's located on the R327 connecting Herbertsdale with Van Wyks Dorp.This rugged gravel road pass is fairly short at 3,6 km and descends in a series of tight switchbacks from the eastern approach to cross the Gouritz River at an altitude of just 68m ASL.

The western ascent is very steep with gradients as steep as 1:5, but the road builders have concrete-stripped this section allowing for good traction. It makes the road driveable in a normal car but due to the rough nature of the concrete surface most vehicles will need to remain in 1st gear until the western summit is reached.

The Jan Phillips Mountain Road (or more correctly Jan Phillips Bergpad) runs along the eastern flank of the famous Paarlberg Mountain, approximately 3/4 of its height and mainly along the 300m contour - and provides access to the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve, Meulwater picnic site and a vast number of hiking and mountain bike trails at the summit of the mountain. Jan Phillips was a respected wagon maker in the town in the 1800's. It's a fairly long gravel road of 10,8 km that starts and ends at either end of the town of Paarl. 

It's an easy enough drive for any vehicle, but the road is quite narrow in places. If you comply with the 30 kph speed limit (which very few people do) you will not have any problems. Be wary of corrugations, which can easily cause loss of control. We recommend tyre deflation to 1.4 bar before driving this route.

 

This fairly long gravel road pass connects the Moravian village of Goedverwacht with Bo-Piketberg and is a delight to drive for its exquisite scenery and remote feeling. It lies on the western flank of a big valley formed between two mountain ranges to the west of Piketberg. At the foot of the pass lies the pretty missionary village of Goedverwacht which offers a fascinating look into the region's history. The pass is 8,6 km long and sports an average gradient of 1:16 with a few short sections as steep as 1:5. The pass is not suited to normal cars. We recommend a vehicle with decent ground clearance, especially over the first 2 km near the northern summit. Several internet references quote this pass as being called "Klok se Poort". This is incorrect as Klok se Poort is a hiking trail that ascends the eastern flank of the valley and is not doable in a vehicle.

The relatively unknown Joubertspoort is a 12.8 km farm road, close to Montagu in the Western Cape, and well worth exploring. The route consists of a combination of some rough two spoor track as well as some good quality gravel road. In essence it is a combination of a pass and a poort. Although the average gradient is a mild 1:30 there are one or two short sections in the 4x4 part of this poort which reach gradients as steep as 1:5

This first (northern) section is strictly for 4x4 vehicles only with good ground clearance and low range. It provides magnificent views in complete tranquility and isolation. The southern section takes you past quaint little farm labourers' cottages flanked by green orchards and pastures towards the exit of the poort from where it is a quick drive into Montagu.

Allow about at least an hour to complete the route. Non 4WD vehicles could drive the poort from the south as far as the last farm, then turnaround and retrace the route back to Montagu.

Most travellers are not even aware of this pass, as they travel the long and generally flat gravelled R356 across the flat plains of the Ceres and Tankwa Karoo between Sutherland and Ceres. This is the last meaningful change in terrain since having passed through the Windheuvel and Thyshoogte passes, several kilometres further to the north-east.

This tricky little pass, whilst not boasting any extreme statistics, has been the undoing of many an unsuspecting driver, as things can get decidedly slippery when the rains do eventually arrive. There are a number of very sharp bends and dips, some of which have negative banking and loose gravel. Proceed with caution and don't underestimate this pass!

The pass is 3,4 km long and exhibits an altitude variance of 103m which converts into an average gradient of 1:32 with the steeper parts getting into the 1:9 range.

The Kaaiman's River Pass boasts several records. Although a fairly short pass in terms of distance, the curves are extremely sharp and the gradient is steep. The pass connects George in the west with Wilderness in the east and traverses magnificent scenery with steep mountainsides, where the amber coloured waters of the Kaaimans River are crossed via the first curved bridge built in South Africa in 1952. The pass provides perfect views of the famous rail bridge at the mouth of the estuary and plays host to Dolphin Point - a perennial favourite with tourists offering 270 degree views including one of the best panoramas of Widerness beach. When commissioned in 1952 it ended a 70 year period where the Old Cape Road (including the 7 Passes) became much less used.

The historic "Seven Passes" route between George and Knysna includes 'Kaaimansgat' - a twisting, turning tarred road, close to the town of George, which traverses lushly indigenous forest to this area's famous 'black water' rivers. The road is old, narrow and the tarring is in sub-standard condition, but the beautiful indigenous forests through which it passes more than makes up for this minor inconvenience. The pass has an old bridge (a national monument) worth stopping at. 

Although the pass is fairly short at 2,8 km it has many sharp corners and drivers would be wise to keep their speed below 40 kph. The only safe place to stop as on either side of the bridge where there is limited parking for one or two vehicles.

 

 

This interesting gravel pass traverses the Kammanassie river valley offering beautiful views and some fairly steep gradients. The pass is also sometimes called the Jonkershoogte Pass (Slingsby Maps). The pass descends from 610m ASL at its western end and drops 165 vertical metres over a very short distance via several tight bends to cross the Kammassie River via  a low level bridge. The road forms a T-junction at the Daskop farmstead where the pass turns sharply to the right to summit Mount Daskop itself at 526m ASL.

This scenic gravel pass of almost 17 km runs along the north-south axis through an attractive koof called Kapteinskloof, through the Skurweberg mountains and connects the R399 in the south at Sauer with the R366 in the north. Its summit rises steeply to 369m at a point named Patatdraai (Potato Corner). The first part of the pass is a gradual climb, but becomes fairly steep near the summit, which offers 360 degree views from the neck.

Karatara Pass is found on the 'Seven Passes Road' immediately after the forestry village of the same name. Like all gravel road passes in rainy regions, the usual cautionary of 'slippery when wet' applies. This road is usually corrugated, which can cause loss of traction and control, particularly on corners with non 4x4 vehicles. This was one of the easier of the seven passes in terms of construction and technical difficulties.

Like all of the preceding passes along the western approach, this pass has simialar vital statistics to the previous four passes, with a length of 2,6 km and a slightly smaller altitude variance of 62m. The vertical profile is once again the classic inverted shape of a pass that starts at a high point, then descneds down to a river crossing, only to rise back up again to virtually the same altitude as the starting point.

The bridge is almost a carbon copy of the Hoogekraal bridge in its design and also carries two lanes of traffic.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter with News and Updates from Mountain Passes South Africa

Subscribe to our Site

Subscribe for only R300 a year (or R210 for 6 months), and get full access to our website including the videos, the full text of all mountain passes articles, fact-file, interactive map, directions and route files.

Register

 

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.
 

Master Orientation Map

Master Orientation Map We are as passionate about maps as we are about mountain passes. A good map is a thing of beauty that can transport you into the mists of time or get your sense of adventure churning. It is a place to make discoveries about deserts and seas, mountains and lakes; of roads leading into places you have not been before; a place to pore over holiday destinations or weekend camping trips. A map is your window to the world.

View Master Orientation Map...