The Western Cape

This 9 km tarred road connects the seaside village of Brenton-on-Sea with the N2 at the main bridge over the Knysna Lagoon. The road is in good condition and offers a varienty of enchanting Garden Route views which include the eastern perspective of the lagoon from high above Belvidere Estate and a summit view westwards over Buffalo Bay (Buffelsbaai) with its 7 km long beach sweeping back away from Brenton on Sea towards Walker Point. The pass is suitable for all vehicles and presents few dangers providing speed limits and barrier lines are adhered to.

The Buffelshoek Pass should be viewed in conjunction with the Middelberg Pass as it is to all intents and purposes the southern half of the Middelberg Pass. The pass takes its name from the nearby Buffelshoek farming area. The pass is gravel and generally maintained to a good standard. It offers easy gradients over the first half, then things change quite dramatically near the summit in the form of a double switchback, where fabulous views open up over the valley - views that stretch back to the south as far as the eye can see in a blend of greenery and rugged mountains in winter. It does sometimes snow on the pass. During the summer months, it is hot and dry.

Originally known as the Koo Pass (serving the fruit-growing region known as the Koo Valley), it was renamed after a local town councillor, Mr. Burger, who expended a lot of energy to influence the authorities to upgrade the road. 'KOO' products have stocked the cupboards of South African families for over 80 years'! 

The pass was originally plotted byThomas Bain and constructed by the Divisional Council in 1876, when construction stopped due to a lack of funds and was finally completed in 1887 at a cost of 1000 Pounds Sterling.

Despite the modern engineering this pass has a combination of dangers - from long momentum gathering straights, to very sharp corners. Drive this one with a sense of vigilance. 
 

This seldom driven gem of a pass ends in a dead end with a story attached. It is frequently referred to in its Afrikaans format - Boesmanskloofpas and is also called the "Road to Nowhere". The pass connects the town of McGregor with the farm Die Galg at the summit, where it ends. However in the early 1900's there was a strong need to build a road directly from McGregor to Greyton, which is a scant 25 kms to the west. The road was subsequently built and continues over the neck (Die Galg) and then descends along the northern side of the ravine, where the road was literally hacked out of the mountainside. This proved to be an onerous and expensive project and was abandoned due to lack of funds.



 

Camps Bay Drive is a tricky road, where your attention will be devided between the amazing views of mountain and sea juxtaposed against trying to get your vehicle around the many dangerous corners on this road. Many of these have negative cross-flow, which is bad news for speed and maybe this is a good thing, as this is a busy road carrying heavy traffic. It is a road that has developed over a period of 200 years, with the upper quarter being a modern four lane road, but the bottom three quarters is narrow, bumpy and very twisty. The road descends from Kloof nek at 234m ASL all the way down to the coast at 11m ASL, producing an average gradient of 1:18, but some of the sections are as steep as 1:7

An easy tarred pass on the R364 that traverses the Carstenberg mountain and connects Clanwilliam with the West Coast towns of Graafwater and Lamberts Bay. The pass rises 291m over 10,1km producing an easy average gradient of 1:35 with the steepest part being at 1:11. The road is in good condition (2015) and presents few dangers providing speed limits and barrier lines are complied with. This area does get coastal fog on occasion in which case speed needs to be adapted according to visibility and stopping distance.

Chapman's Peak Drive dates back to the early 1900's and is without question one of Cape Town's Top 10 tourist destinations. It's popularity is due to the incredible scnery on offer viewed from a road which has been been lietrally hewn out of the almost vertical cliff faces on the Cape Peninsula's western side.

The 10 km long pass connects Hout Bay in the north with Noordhoek in the south and was converted into a toll road in 2003 to cover the high costs of maintaining the road to a safe standard. Along it's length you will drive through more than 80 bends, corners and curves and see some impressive modern engineering, including massive steel catch nets and two semi-tunnels. Many sections of unstable rock-face have been been reinforced with shotcrete.

This pass is loaded with drama and history dating back to 1910 and is best appreciated driven slowly. It must have seemed an impossible task building a road on such an inhospitable and dangerous cliff face, but the road building pioneers did the job!

The more observant viewers will notice that we have not included our standard vertical profile nor simulated fly-past clips in the first video. The reason for this is that Google Earth simply cannot 'read' the road correctly and the results are too distorted to provide an accurate simulation. This is the only pass in South Africa, where this has occurred.

Clarence Drive is a magnificent scenic coastal drive between the windswept hamlet of Rooi-Els and the naval town of Gordons Bay, which nestles in the north-eastern crook of False Bay in the shadow of the Hottentots Hollands mountains. This beautiful, coastal drive stretches between the two towns over 21 km, hugging the wild turquoise Cape coastline all the way. If you like passes with lots of corners, then this one is for you, as it contains 77 bends, curves and corners of which four are in excess of 150 degrees. The road is in a beautiful condition and attracts tourists, locals, bikers and cyclists in their droves. Overtaking is fairly limited and in general one can expect to average well below 60 kph.

  

This thoroughly enjoyable and fairly long pass of 19 km straddles the Vreysrant Mountains between Herbertsdale and Van Wyksdorp. The road is generally well maintained to a high  standard, despite the gravel surface. The northern section can get quite narrow at times, but should present no problems providing speed limits are adhered to. There are at least half a dozen river crossings over low level culverts, which can be dangerous if the rivers come down in flood - as was the case just one week prior to us filming. In the video clip there is ample evidence of fresh repair work and it can be seen just how high these rivers can get. Poor judgement or ego driven decisions could be fatal. If you are not prepared to walk it, then dont drive it.





This little known poort lies just north-east of Calitzdorp and provides a superb, but slower gravel alternative to the R62. It connects Calitzdorp with the farming communities that lie to the north of the R62 and south of the Swartberg Mountains. The poort offers beautiful and dramatic scenery of the unusual red sandstone mountains.

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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.
 

Master Orientation Map

Master Orientation Map We are as passionate about maps as we are about mountain passes. A good map is a thing of beauty that can transport you into the mists of time or get your sense of adventure churning. It is a place to make discoveries about deserts and seas, mountains and lakes; of roads leading into places you have not been before; a place to pore over holiday destinations or weekend camping trips. A map is your window to the world.

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