The Western Cape

The Bo-Swaarmoed Pass  is located to the north of the much bigger Swaarmoed Pass, 3,5 km kilometers after the Matroosberg/Erfdeel turn-off. It is a gravel road that connects the summit area of the Swaarmoed Pass with the farm Uitkomst (Matjiesrivier) in the lower valley to the north. The pass is also sometimes called the Uitkomst Pass and the Bloubank Pass by locals. This is a very old farm with old buildings, dry packed stone walls and a unique and completely intact slave bell dating back to the early 1700's.

Most of the passes aound Ceres are tarred which tends to lull drivers into a false sense of security. When adding very steep gradients, sharp corners and several bends which have negative banking, this pass has the potential to become very dangerous and doubly so during snow or after heavy rain for unattentive drivers. Don't be fooled by the mild statistics or how easy it looks on the video. It is safer to ascend this pass than descend it. Speed needs to be drastically reduced if you have approached from the south via the Swaarmoed Pass.

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 hidden poort is well off the beaten track yet not that far from main routes and towns. It's located along the east-west axis and approximately 5 km north of the R407 between Prince Albert and Klaarstroom. This is a typical farm road that carries very low traffic volumes, so you will enjoy a sense of isolation and tranquility.

As is the case with all gravel roads, be prepared for punctures, and expect corrugations (depending on when last rain fell or maintenance took place). Livestock on the road is also an ever present danger.

We have not physically driven this poort ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps. The possibility exists that you might encounter locked farm gates. Make sure you have sufficient fuel to backtrack.

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.

This steep gravel pass offers spectaular views over the Duiwenhoksrivier valley tucked right up into the green rolling foothills of the Langeberg, between the Tradouw and Garcia passes on a minor gravel road, which offers several pass driving options as it is also the access road to the Gysmanshoek pass.

The road is suitable for normal sedan vehicles, providing it has not been raining in which case some of the low level bridges might be impassable. On the steeper gradients, FWD cars might have traction issues in wet weather.

This is one of the most spectacular gravel passes in the Western Cape offering stunning scenery of craggy mountains, vertical rock walled poorts, old-school engineering, game spotting, birdlife and a fabulous 4 star lodge to ease weary travellers into the bushveld way of life. The pass has 60 bends, corners and curves compressed into its 7,6 km length with an average gradient of 1:13 which is remarkable considering that the lower part of the pass where it becomes a poort is fairly flat. Yet there is no point on the pass whichis excessively steep. There are some sections that reach 1:6 so this road with it's steep unguarded drop-offs requires focused attention by drivers.

This historic pass dates back to 1862 and was completed by Thomas Bain's brother in law - Adam de Smidt. The road is named after the many fossilised ticks found in the rocks when the road was built. This used to be the main road between Laingsburg and Prince Albert up till the late 1960's when the Dept. of Water Affairs built the Gamkakloof Dam, which had a number of consequences, including making this road obsolete.

Firstly it made the road a dead end as there was no way around the new dam and secondly it spelt the end of the farming community in the Gamkakloof, as the new road bulldozed eastwards through the Gamkaskloof gave this community access to Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp. They left the kloof in a steady trickle until there was no-one left. That is one of the negative sides of progress. The full story on the on the Gamkaskloof can be read elsewhere on this website.

The wide, safe and well engineered Bothmaskloof Pass is located between the Boland towns of Malmesbury and Riebeeck Kasteel on the tarred R46 route, which descends along the southern side of the Kasteelberg through a wide U bend. The pass has history dating back to 1661 and was first recced by Pieter Van Cruythoff.

Lying just 40 minutes drive from Cape Town, this safe, all weather pass offers sweeping views over vineyards and olive groves as well as giving access to some historic wine estates including Kloovenburg and Allesverloren. The town of Riebeeck Kasteel lies at the foot of the pass and has become one of the chic and fashionable places to be seen with some excellent restaurants and the zest of country life available via a variety of art and craft shops.

Take a fabulously scenic drive along the mountain side above Muizenberg and Kalk Bay Bay along the north-western corner of False Bay  and take in the elevated views of the coastline with its rocky shores, tiny fishing harbours and blue waters stretching away towards Gordon's Bay and Cape Hangklip. This 7 km long mountain road offers an alternative route to the more congested Main Road along the seafront and provides some excellent view-sites as well as access to some wonderful hikes up to the Silvermine Nature Reserve. This road falls under the category of 'Suburban Passes'

This 4,27 km long tarred pass is a northern extension of the fabulous Robinson Pass and sweeps through the Brakpoort about 18 km south-west of Oudtshoorn. The road descends 144 vertical metres, producing an average gradient of 1:30 with the steepest section presenting at 1:14. There is one dangerous corner of 90 degrees where some negative cross-flow has seen several vehicles departing the road for the much rougher ground of the ravine on the right. On the sharpest part of this corner, solid concrete crash barriers have been created and judging by the many metal scrapes and paint marks on the concrete, it has already served its purpose in saving lives.

This steep gravel pass descends/ascends the northern end of the Nardousberg mountain - a north/south oriented range to the east of the Olifants River, approximately 40 km north of Clanwilliam. It is the final section of the road that connects the main gravel road to the Bushmans Cave Amphitheatre to the gravel (R363) road on the east side of the Olifants River. The road is maintained to a good standard and providing speed limits are adhered to, all traffic should manage this pass comfortably.

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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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