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The Western Cape

This unofficial gravel pass lies to the south of the Anysberg mountains along the course of the Touwsrivier where the Sewefontein farmlands form a ribbon of green pastures along the banks of the river. The pass descends into the valley from the west, then crosses the river and follows the northern bank for some distance before ascending up the eastern side. It's a fairly easy pass in terms of road surface and gradients, but there are a few dangers to be aware of.

The Tradouw Pass (which means Womens Path in the old Khoi language) is a 16 kilometer drive through an altitude range of 219 meters through some of the most beautiful and rugged mountain scenery on offer in the Langeberg. This pass is undoubtedly in the Top 20 tarred passes in the Western Cape on an overall rating.

It joins the towns of Barrydale and Swellendam and was originally built by Thomas Bain. Extensively revamped in recent times, the engineering teams did an outstanding job of preserving the environment and retaining Thomas Bain's character in the design and supporting stonework. This is truly one of those mountain passes that you must drive. This one ticks all the boxes.

This short pass is located on the R62 just to the north-east of the popular town of Barrydale. It should not be confused with the Thomas Bain built Tradouw Pass to the south of Barrydale, nor with the Op de Tradouw Pass which lies to the west of the town.

The well engineered pass, which has an average gradient of 1:19 and never gets steeper than 1:11, offers lovely views over the Barrydale valley and surrounding farms. Do stop at the viewsite which is about halfway down the descent, but indicate your intentions of turning  off the R62 early as this road often gets very busy.

Watch out for the speed restrictions and the speed changes rapidly from 80 kph to 60 kph just as you enter the final right hand bend into the main road. There are often radar traps set up here. Don't rush through Barrydale. Explore the village and savour the country food, hospitality and history that abounds here.

Located in the remote high mountain plateau north of Beaufort West and approximately midway between the Thomas Bain built Molteno and De Jager passes, the Trapvoet Pass winds its way steeply down a mountain and into a small canyon carved out by a river over the millenia. This road is long and rough and we don't recommend anyone attempting this one without a 4x4 with good ground clearance and low range. Part of the route crosses private property with locked farm gates. You will need to first obtain permission from the land owner. Contact details are posted lower down on this page.

The Truitjieskraal Road forms part of an escape route via the Kromrivier farm and Kromrivier Pass, when the Matjiesrivier is in flood. It's a fairly rough gravel road, which only allows a speed of around 20 kph. The route is 8,5 km long and climbs 108 vertical metres over that distance, most of it over the first two kilometres, with some stiff gradients of 1:8.

After that the road meanders between beautiful weathered Cederberg sandstone formations over a wide mountain plateau amongst pristine fynbos and proteas and terminates at the bridge crossing at the well known Kromrivier farm. The route is doable in a normal sedan car, providing speed is kept low. This road gives access to the Truitjieskraal rock formations, as well as the rock-climbing routes and hiking trails.

This short pass is located about 35km north of Matjiesfontein on the tarred R354 to Sutherland. The pass is safe and presents no apparent dangers if the speed limits are adhered to. The pass is located about 45 km south of the much bigger Verlatenkloof Pass. No-one seems to know who the Turck is in the name Turck se Pas (Turck's Pass).

Although the pass is relatively safe and well designed, it has some big corners, but all of them have correct cross flow and if the 80 kph speed limit, as well as barrier line restrictions are adhered to, there should be no problems. This pass also provides access to the gravel road that runs through the mountains to the east of Sutherland, which includes the triple passes of Bakenshoogte, Smoushoogte and the Komsberg Pass.

This old farm road has been modernised over the years and today carries bumper to bumper traffic to the northern suburbs around Durbanville. The 3,6 km long tarred road (designated as the M13), descends 135m producing an average gradient of 1:27, but the curvy part near Hillcrest is quite steep at 1:7. The pass plays host to a number of quality wine estates, including Bloemendal, Nitida, Hillcrest and Durbanville Hills. The little pass is also colloqually known as Tiekiedraai for its very sharp corner near Hillcrest.



 

The 4.7 km Uitkyk Pass joins the northern and southern Cederberg Wilderness areas. Of medium length and fairly steep, this pass is true to its name, which translates as 'Look Out' or 'Viewpoint', providing endless vistas of the unique Cederberg mountains, with the Algeria Valley beckoning down below with it's beautiful grassed campsites and refreshing rock pools.

The pass is sometimes listed as the Cederberg Pass on older maps with the old pass (which runs up the eastern side of the ravine) which it replaced, being listed as the "Old Uitkyk Pass". Take your pick! There is another Uitkyk Pass in Mpumalanga, so 'Cederberg Pass' would have been a wiser choice. Some maps also show the Nieuwoudts Pass as the Cederberg Pass.  There is another pass on the Wupperthal Road further to the north-east also called Uitkyk Pass on older maps, which has had a sensible name change to Hoek-se-berg Pass.

The much loved gravel pass was tarred in late 2019.

This is a serious off-road pass that involves a bridgeless river crossing, long sections of stepped rock inclines, sharp corners, razor sharp tyre slicing rocks, loose stones, steep gradients and immense views over the Doring River valley. It is only possible in a high clearance 4x4 with low range or for motorcycle riders, a lightweight bike will also do the trick. This road is not recommended for inexperienced drivers/riders. The pass straddles the border of the Western and Northern Cape and forms part of the R2266 gravel road that connects the Biedouw Valley with the R355 south of Calvinia.

Uniondale Heights is a 4,62 km long tarred pass on the N9 route between Uniondale and Willowmore. It is located just outside Uniondale and descends from the Karoo plateau of around 820 meters ASL down the mountain to the north of the town via a well designed, modern pass with easy gradients, good cambers and gentle curves. The pass terminates right opposite the centre of Uniondale at the crossing of the Kammanassie 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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