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The Western Cape

An easy tarred pass on the N2 between Wilderness in the west and Sedgefield in the east, offering sweeping views over Swartvlei - a large semi-saline lake forming one of the many lakes in this region with the typical transparent onyx colour. The pass is 5,4 km long and descends 115m to cross the estuary via a low level bridge at sea level. The pass has several corners and some steep gradients at 1:10, but the corners are properly banked, making the road safe. Overtaking is difficult and most of the pass is controlled by double barrier lines.

A short, steep, cul-de-sac road of 2,7km that gives access to the seat of the Afrikaans language situated on a beautiful granite rock system on the western slopes of Paarlberg. The road is tarred, modern and well designed, but it is fairly steep with an average gradient of 1:13 and the steepest sections being at 1:6 near the turn-off to the amphitheatre. Regardless of whether you are Afrikaans or not, a visit to this holy grail of the young language of South Africa's Dutch pioneers, is a must if you are in the Paarl area. The monument, it's design, and the grounds attract large numbers of visitors for the aesthetic beauty of the architecture and the immaculate grounds and gardens. It speaks volumes for the Afrikaans people.

This road falls under the category of a suburban pass and after a short steep ascent from Kloof Nek it climbs rapidly via two 180 degree hairpins to level out at the lower cableway station. Thereafter it runs more or less on an even contour line all along the north face of Table Mountain. Some years ago, rock slides caused the the road to be closed at the 4,1 km mark, leaving the remainder of the eastern section open only to hikers and cyclists. The road provides unparalleled views of Cape Town, the harbour, Robben island and the Cape Flats. It is usually extremely congested with tourist vehicles wanting to access the cableway and hiking trails.  

 

 

Ceres has an abundance of passes connecting it with the outside world. One of the biggest is the Theronsberg Pass which forms a trio of passes into the north with the Hottentotskloof Pass and  the Karoopoort.  The pass (on the R46) connects Ceres with the R355 to Calvinia and Sutherland as well as linking up with the N1 highway just north of the Hexrivier Pass via another pass on the R46 - Die Venster (The Window).

This little pass is not for the feint hearted. The maximum gradient is 1:3 which means low range gear ratios are essential. This pass has claimed the 10th steepest pass statistic in South Africa with an average gradient of 1:9,1 It is unusual in that it only starts at the summit of the Koebee Pass, itself quite a spectacular and steep pass. It climbs up to the mountain plateau via a single hairpin, at which point some rudimentary concrete has been laid to aid with traction. The road services a single rooibos farm at the summit. Views from the top are superb with the thin ribbon of road of the Koebee Pass disappearing to the right with the Knersvlakte framed by a ring of peaks in the far distance.

Note: It has been reported that the gate at the start of the pass is sometimes locked, in which case there will be no access. Make allowance for this in your planning.

This fabulous poort provides a natural route for the regional R372 road which connects Prince Albert in the west with the tarred N12 north of Klaarstroom and Meiringspoort. The poort traverses two long mountains over a distance of just under 4 kms with a placid average gradient of 1:54, but hidden amongst the gentle gradients are a few desceptively sharp bends. This a lovely, quiet Karoo poort through a barren and wide landscape. A sense of timelessness exists here, which is a good tonic for the unhurried traveller. This is also Angora goat and sheep farming country.

The Tilney Pass is a 6,6 km long pass that runs along the east-west axis in the southern shadow of the Warmwaterberg in the heart of the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. There is an altitude variance of 107m over that distance, which produces a mild average gradient of 1:61, but there are some much steeper sections at 1:9 near the eastern end and summit. This pass is only drivable by paying guests of the reserve and is not freely publicly accessible. This pass forms a long and intricate traverse in tandem with the Sandfonteinspoort (or Tilney Gorge North) connecting the southern entrance gate with the Sondwana and Sanbona lodges in the north near the Bellair Dam, with the attractively sited Tilney Manor forming a small oasis between the two passes. 

*Please carefully read the notes on public access to Sanbona lower down!

Tolletjie se Poort is a minor pass/poort of 1,9 km with two false summits that conencts with Koppie se Nek in the north and the Ouberg Pass in the south forming a continuous back to back pass with both of them. The two false summits are each separated by a stream crossing. The gradients reach 1:14 in places which make this poort suitable for all vehicles.

When driving this poort, in reality it neither resembles the typical features of a poort (a road that follows the course of a river) nor a pass as there are no sharp corners, no cuttings or steep drop-offs. However, it is an official pass and is marked as such on the government maps.

If you're a pass hunter, you had better enter the GPS coordinates of this one, otherwise you might not even notice it, especially if travelling from south to north, as you will have just ascended the impressive Ouberg Pass. This poort starts exactly at the summit point of the Ouberg Pass.

This little known, but none the less spectacular, 4x4 route in the Breede River Valley is found just outside the major Boland town of Worcester. (At the time of filming the owner indicated the farm was for sale, so the continued existence of this route might be in jeopardy.)

Note: This is a strictly 4x4 route.

Ed note: This trail has been officially closed: 1st December, 2015

The Touw River Pass forms part of the well-known 7 Passes Road in the Garden Route and is the 4th of the official passes when travelling west to east. The road was built circa 1883 by Adam de Smidt, the brother in law, of Thomas Bain - pass builder extraordinaire. This is a gravel road and remains virtually unchanged from it's original route, with the one exception that the original timber bridge was washed away. This was replaced with a steel bridge in the 1900's.

It has similar characteristics to the Kaaimansgat and Silver River passes. It's 2,5 km long and has an altitude variance of 92m with the same inverted vertical profile typical of a pass that descends through a river gorge and rises up the other side.

Of the seven rivers crossed on the 7 Passes Road, the Touw River is the biggest and the most prone to flooding. It is most likely that this pass was also built by Adam de Smidt, as Thomas Bain was held up for a long period with the contruction of the Homtini Pass, which proved to be the most difficult of the seven.

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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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