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The Western Cape

This rough, steep gravel pass lies on the eastern edge of the Knersvlakte and connects a few remote farms along the Klein-Koebee River Valley with the R27 and the towns of Vanrhynsdorp and Nieuwoudtville. It should not be confused with the Koebee Pass, which lies 7 kilometres to the south. The pass is not suitable for normal cars, but a commercial vehicle ("bakkie"} with reasonable gound clearance will manage it in dry weather. The average gradient is a stiff 1:9 with the steeper parts being at 1:4. Most of the pass will be driven in 1st and 2nd gear. The road is a dead-end, which makes this one more suitable to die hard gravel pass fans.

We offer three videos on this great pass:
1. Ascent
2. Descent westwards back to the start (Knersvlakte)
3. Descent eastwards into the Klein Koebee valley 

Despite the romantic, historical connotations of its name "Ou Kaapse Weg" ('Old Cape Road'), this is actually a relatively modern road, which was opened in 1968. There is a jeep track that runs more or less paralell, but higher up the northern side of the pass, which is purportedly an old wagon road road used to cart ore from the silver mine lower down the mountain in the late 1800's, and which is still accessible to hikers who walk the many beautiful routes available on both sides of the pass within the Silvermine Nature Reserve.

The pass is a major one covering a distance of 10,6 km and in that length contains 26 bends, curves and corners including 3 full horseshoe bends and another 3 corners in excess of 90 degrees. The pass offers a modern, well bult road with superb views over it's entire length of both False Bay and the Atlantic Ocean with the Steenberg Mountains and Silvermine Nature Reserve with its winter waterfall keeping travellers entertained through the middle section. It gives access to Fish Hoek, Noordhoek, Kommetjie, Simonstown and the Cape Point Nature Reserve. 


 

This particular Ouberg Pass (there are another three - one in the Northern Cape near Sutherland and the other near Gifberg (W/Cape) with the fthird being in the Eastern Cape near Graaff-Reinet) is a well-designed gravel pass linking the town of Montagu with the Karoo highlands and remote towns like Sutherland, Matjiesfontein and Touwsrivier as well as providing an access route to the fabulous Anysberg Nature Reserve.

It is a perennial favourite with offroad clubs and touring bikers, but due to its good design and reasonable gradients, is suitable for all vehicles. It contains 38 bends, corners and curves within its 7,8 km length, with an altitude variance of 497m, producing an average gradient of under 1:16.

This short, steep and scenic pass offers outstanding views with weathered rocks, waterfalls, proteas and mountain fynbos in a pristine and virtually untouched part of the Western Cape in it's far northern sector. There are two ways to access the pass. The recommended route is to drive the Gifberg Pass first from Vanrhynsdorp and descend via this (Ouberg) pass providing a superb 55km loop ending back in Vanrhynsdorp. Allow two and a half hours.

This historical pass was the first road to be forged into the Roodezand valley (Now called the Tulbagh valley). It starts at the Oudekloof farmstead and rises at a very steep gradient of 1:4 up the eastern slopes of the Obiqua mountain to summit at 382m. From there the road turns into the north-west and descends the western slopes of the mountain at a more gentle gradient to terminate near the canal close to the new wind farm between Gouda and Saron. This pass is not accessible by the general public, except under certain circumstances.

This is a modern, well constructed (but narrow) concrete road that makes use of part of the original historic Oudekloof Pass route and then swings away to the south to climb to the very top of the peak, where an array of Telkom and other microwave towers bristle at the summit. This is an out and back route, requiring drivers to descend along the same route to return to Oudekloof farmstead. This is generally not a publicly accessible road, with one or two exceptions. We obtained special permission to film the route, which provides magnificent and varying scenery, but it is seriously steep and as well that it is concreted.

The Outeniqua Pass is a relatively modern pass, connecting the coastal town of George with Oudtshoorn and the Little Karoo. It was first built in 1942 - 1951 to provide an alternative to the narrow and steep Montagu Pass. It has been widened and modernized several times since then and today carries the bulk of the traffic flow between the two towns and the Langkloof. Rockfalls and trucking accidents close the pass from time to time. The higher reaches of the pass are subject to heavy rainfall and dense mountain mists which can reduce visibility to a few metres. Under such conditions, this pass is dangerous especially due to the volume of commercial traffic that it carries.

It contains 40 bends,corners and curves, many of which exceed 90 degrees. The road is well engineered, but it is advisable to stick to the speed limits have which have been carefully calculated to get you safely over the pass. For south-bound traffic there are several excellent view-sites and the third one from the summit is particularly impressive, which is marked as "The 4 passes". From this vantage point all four passes still be seen, one of which dates back almost 200 years.

The pass has an altitude variance of 581m and is long at 13,3 km, producing an average gradient of 1:23 with the steepest sections being at 1:10.

This very old gravel pass, which was once a toll road in the late 1880's lies south-east of the Klein Swartberg Pass between Laingsburg in the north and Ladismith in the south. With an easy average gradient of 1:36 over 8,5 km the pass can be driven in any vehicle and offers pleasant kloof scenery with the Klein Swartberg mountain [1164,5m] dominating the views to the right. The highlight of the pass is the original dry stone walling which still supports the road. There is a high probability that this pass was built by Thomas Bain, who also built the nearby Klein Swartberg Pass in 1880.

The Paardekop Pass delves a long way back into history and is recorded as far back as 1772 by the explorer, Thunberg in his journal. The original route was an elephant path which was later to become a bridle path, followed by the inevitable need for an ox-wagon route. It was considered to be one of the most dangerous passes in the colony in its day.

This fairly short poort routes through a clear gap in the mountains just north of Heroldt and forms a natural northerly extension to the historicial Montagu Pass on an easy traverse towards Oudtshoorn. This little poort seems to have been forgotten and completely dominated by the grandeur of the Montagu Pass, but a closer look at the Paardepoort (The Pass of Horses), reveals an old road, built in similar style to Bain's work of the late 1800's, which can be clearly seen on the opposite side of the poort with substantial retaining walls still adequately propping the old road up, above the river.

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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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