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The Western Cape

The Muiskraal Pass is named after the farm of the same name near the northern foot of the pass. The pass is basically the northern descent of the Garcia Pass onto the Little Karoo plateau and forms one long, continuous pass which connects Riversdale in the South with Ladismith in the North. It is a modern, well engineered pass with no obvious safety issues. We filmed the Muiskraal Pass ascending from north to south. 

 

Many references to this kloof and pass have dropped the "w" from the original Dutch name and simply use the more local (Afrikaans) version of Nardouskloof. The pass heads in a north easterly direction away from the Olifants River and Bulshoek dam up a natural cleft in the Nardouwsberg to summit at the farm of the same name at the top of the mountain plateau. This is also the pass one takes to get to the well known Bushman's Cave Amphitheatre. It is suitable for all vehicles and the steepest part in the middle is tarred, which solves traction issues in wet weather.

This old pass which was built by Thomas Bain in 1860 can still be clearly seen from the new road (R46) which is on the northern side of the kloof. The dry-stone packed supporting walls of the old pass still support the original road, which was tarred in the 1930's - as well as acting as support base for the railway line, slightly higher up the slope, which is still in use to this day and was originally built by Bain as well, some time after completing the road. The old road can still be driven, but it should be noted that it is blocked off at the Tulbagh end at the railway station, where one has to turn around and retrace the route back to the starting point at the main bridge on the R46.

Escape the busy drudge of the N7 traffic by taking the 15,7 km long Nieuwoudts Pass, known also as the Cederberg Pass. It links the Algeria Valley in the southern Cederberg, with the coastal hinterland to the west via the N7. Lying between the two small farming towns of Clanwillliam and Citrusdal, this gravel road has patches of poor surfacing and is often badly corrugated, which requires requires slow, cautious driving. Despite the rough surfaces, the gradients are seldom worse than 1:10. The views are jaw-dropping - especially on the eastern side along the Algeria valley. Watch your speed as there are some dangerous corners with unprotected and steep drop-offs.

This attractive poort slices through the Nougashoogte mountains about 25 km south of Touwsrivier. The mountain consists of a series of peaks between 1100 and 1300m high, joined together by a string of necks running along the east-west axis. The 4 km long poort has a relatively small altitude variance of just 51m, which is par for the course for poorts. It provides perfect scenery of Cape Fold mountains on both sides of the road and there are a surprising number of bends considering how flat the terrain is on either side of the poort. The poort is surrounded by nature reserves on three sides. If you enjoy gravel travel, hop off the N1 and try this lovely option.

The Nuwekloof Pass has a long history dating back to the early 1700's and is also known in it's various forms as the Nieuwekloof Pass, the Roodezand Pass or the Tulbaghkloof Pass. It is a modern, safe, well engineered pass which connect the towns of Tulbagh and Wellington on the tarred R46 route.

The Old Cape Road is located just to the north of Knysna and traverses the line of hills above the town through indigenous as well as pine and bluegum plantations. The 6.5 km long road is generally on a level gradient, with the exception of the western ascent, which is very steep. Although the average gradients are a comfortable 1:21, the climb up past Simola Golf Estate is as steep as 1:5



 

 

The Old Postal Route is a basic gravel track of 53,2 km that connects the Biedouw Valley in the Cederberg with the Eilandsvlei farm near the R355 in the Tankwa Karoo. This was once a route used to deliver post between these two remote communities.

The route consists of two mountain passes separated by a long high altitude plateau and includes a bridgeless crossing of the Doring River at the eastern end. It is not suitable for normal cars. Four wheel drive with high clearance is essential and low range is an additional benefit to have at your disposal.

Most of the route is Grade 1 and fairly straight-forward to drive, but here and there a few tricky sections raise the bar to Grade 3, depending on weather conditions. The two most likely places drivers will have problems, is the crossing of the Doring River and offroad navigation, as there are multiple unsigned intersections, so your navigation needs to be precise. Unless you have a GPS loaded with Tracks4Africa where you can see the route clearly, you will more than likely get lost. We don't recommend driving this route between June and October, when water levels in the Doring River will probably be too high. In summer, the river crossing is usually bone dry.

The route will take between 4 to 6 hours to complete, depending on a  number of factors. There are cottages and camping available at Mertenshof near the western start and good camping can be enjoyed at Die Mond off the R355 at the opposite end of the route.

The route is best driven in a group in case of a breakdown. Take full recovery gear with as well as a puncture repair kit that you know how to use. If you enjoy remote gravel road driving, with huge vistas and a unique stillness you will find in few other places in South Africa, then this route is for you.

The Olof Bergh Pass is an official pass. However, it is nothing more than a fairly straight line traverse over a smallish neck between two 'koppies'. It has no sharp corners and the gradients are easy. What it lacks in in terms of tight corners and steep gradients, it makes up in history and pleasant country scenery. It connects the two Sandveld towns of Redelinghuys in the north with Aurora, about 30 km to the south.

The Op de Tradouw Pass lies on the popular R62 route between Montagu and Barrydale - both towns which attract tourists by the droves and each has it's own special mystique and charm. This pass should not be confused with the Thomas Bain designed Tradouw Pass, which lies another 10 kms to the east and further to the south of Barrydale. The Wildehondskloofhoogte Pass runs back to back with this pass and together the two passes form one long pass of over 15 km. The Op de Tradouw Pass has an altitude variance of 300m with an average gradient of 1:18 with the steepest parts reaching 1:15. It provides beautiful views of the Tradouw Valley peppered with fruit  orchards and dams, with the Langeberg mountains in the background. The pass is modern, well engineered and safe, providing the speed limits and barrier lines are adhered to.

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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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