Travelling on an unmarked gravel road through the Karoo, a seemingly endless herd of Angora goats forced us to stop the car, and allow the ancient farm scene unfolding before us to take us back in time... Whilst this is not a mountain pass, we have added this page in as a general interest item. This road does not form part of our national passes database.
In this video clip, the entire herd of goats was controlled by the farmer in a 'bakkie' with single Border Collie ensuring there were no strays and at end of this 2 km long goat herd, two goat herders ensured they all entered a gate to a new pasture.
The Karoo Poort is a very old route followed by the first settlers, and together with the Hottentots Kloof, formed the only route to the north (and the Karoo) from Cape Town through Ceres. The road is a typical poort, with easy gradients, following the course of a (mainly dry) river-bed through a natural gap in the mountains. The construction was managed by Andrew Bain and built by Adam de Smidt, who would later become Andrew Bain's son-in-law and Thomas Bain's brother in law. The pass is gravel, except for a small section of just over a kilometer and a half, where the tarring was no doubt done to protect the Karoopoort farm orchards from dust. The original old farmstead is on the right hand side of the road (west) when driving from east to west and looking its age these days. It is the only farm in the poort.
The Karretjies Pass is a rough, narrow track that descends down a side arm of the Bobbejaanskloof, itself a side canyon to the much bigger Doring River canyon. Although this pass is short at just 1,5 km and has an altitude variance of only 72m, it is the rough nature of the road that makes it something of a challenge. It offers majestic canyon views, steep drop-offs and a feeling of intense isolation in a harsh and barren landscape.
The road has been hacked out of the side of the mountain and is only just wide enough for one vehicle. Overtaking or passing is impossible. You will need a high clearance 4x4 to drive this pass and low range will be an advantage for more precise control. The pass forms part of the Old Postal Route that connects the Biedouw valley in the west with the Eilandsvlei farm near the R355 in the east in the Tankwa Karoo. Do not attempt this pass without reviewing our page on the Old Postal Route first, which contains very important information on navigation and safety.
This rough gravel road is enjoyed by mountain bikers and adventure motor cyclists, as it is quite challenging in some sections with a variety of road conditions which can vary greatly depending on the time of year. It connects the summit area of the Hemel & Aarde Valley at the R320 with the Bot River estuary farming area, as well as with the Karwyderskraal farm on the mountain plateau. It also services the farms on the eastern side near the Hemel en Aarde valley. It offers locals a distinct shortcut for those wanting to avoid the congestion on the R43 to Hermanus and Onrus.
The pass is suitable for all vehicles, but this road can get very slippery when wet. It has recently received a substantial upgrade amd widening, especially along the western section. The special feature of this road is that it crosses the De Bos dam wall, which is also the only section of the pass that is tarred.
The decisively steep Katbakkies Pass traces over what was once an old sheep-trekking route over the Skurweberge mountains. It joins the Koue Bokkeveld with the Ceres Karoo and Tankwa Karoo. It was recently (1999) tarred and although fairly short, it has a serious average gradient of 1/13 which will tax many an underpowered vehicle and especially the two sections about quarter way up the western ascent, which measure out at UNDER 1:4! The pass is sometimes covered in snow during winter as the snow line of 1000m ASL is well below this pass's maximum altitude of 1200m. It's a narrow road and has no road markings, so take it slowly and enjoy the spectacular barren landscape.
This easy pass on the N2 just east of Plettenberg Bay climbs 225m up the eastern portal of the Keurbooms River valley via 7 gentle and evenly graded bends. It's exactly 5 km long produces an average gradient of 1:22 with the steepest section registering 1:10. The road is generally in excellent condition and is safe with 80% of the ascent featuring an overtaking lane. However the N2 is generally a very busy road, so expect heavy traffic day and night and be particularly aware of slow moving trucks on both the ascent and the descent.
To the east of the pass is a beautiful section of the Garden Route which includes The Crags, Kurland, Natures Valley and of course there is access to both the Grootrivier Pass as well as the Bloukrans Pass (the latter currently being closed to traffic).
This pass is short, steep and dangerous. It forms a fabulous section on the N2 in the Garden Route between Sedgefield and Knysna and brings the N2 lower in altitude by 166 vertical metres to end at the crossing of the Knysna River at 1m ASL. The views are of thickly forested hillsides with excellent views of the Knysna Lagoon once on the road bridge. The pass is named after the railway station of the same name, hidden amongst the trees just to the south of the summit. The pass should be read/viewed in conjunction with the Goukamma Pass which ends where this pass starts.
This short pass is located on the gravel surfaced P2244 in the Koue Bokkeveld and forms a change in altitude between the last fork where the tar ends from the Op die Berg settlement and the Katbakkies Pass about 7 km to the east. The pass is only 1,7 km long, and has a minor altitude variance of 60m producing an average gradient of 1:28. It offers excellent views, but be careful of the two very sharp bends, one of which curls through more than 130 degrees. There is one view-point near the summit which offers perfect views out over the valley with its orchards and dams with the towering peak called Sneeukop in the background. The pass is named after the Klein Cederberg farm and nature reserve near the summit.
This interesting gravel pass is located (as the name suggests) in the Klein Swartberg mountains about 40 km south of Laingsburg on the R323/P315 road. It is one of a series of passes and poorts in the area, which provide a fascinating range of options. The pass was built by Thomas Bain in 1880. Please read the detailed notes carefully as there is one very dangerous section on this pass you should be aware of.
This fairly easy gravel pass is of moderate length at 5,4 km and displays an altitude variance of 180m. It has 11 bends, corners and curves of which 3 exceed 90 degrees. The pass connects the tarred main road (the R326) in the north in the vicinity of the western side of the Akkedisberg Pass with the main gravel road running along the east-west axis from Stanford to Sandy's Glen Pass.
The road is generally well maintained and is suitable for all vehicles, but like all gravel roads it is subject to damage when it rains hard. The pass makes for a scenic and easy drive offering mountain views and rolling hills mainly covered in wheat and canola as well as some cattle farms. There are a number of excellent guest farms in the immediate area. The other passes close by include Flouhoogte, Akkedisberg, Sandy's Glen and Groenkloof passes.
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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