This is a very special pass, much loved by pass hunters, nature lovers and the gliding fraternity. It rises up from the wheat and canola plains of the Swartland just north of Porterville through a series of tight bends, steep gradients and two severe hairpins to summit at 700m ASL at the top of the Groot Winterberg mountain range. The pass was tarred a few years ago, taking away some of the excitement, but the benefits are a much safer pass with considerable savings in maintenance. Near the summit, on the left hand side of the road, you will see the hang glider and paraglider steel launch ramp, where the bird-men go airborne for hours soaring in the updraft of the mountains.
The Dassieshoek Pass is a gravel road just north of Robertson that connects the town with the Dassieshoek Nature Reserve, which nestles in the foothills of the Langeberg mountains. The pass is gravel and despite some extremely sharp corners, has relatively easy gradients and it can be driven in a normal sedan vehicle. The road is a dead–end. This is not an official pass, but qualifies to be listed in terms of our definition.
The Karoo has several dynamic passes and the De Jagers Pass is one of them. It's located on a good gravel road about 30km NNE of Beaufort West. Unless you're a local farmer, you'll have very little reason to be on this road. Of course, pass hunters don't care about these things, and this gravel pass will satisfy every cent spent on fuel, locating it. It's a farm road and leads only to other farms in the area, but it does offer many options to the adventurous traveller. Please note that our description covers an ascending route from south to north which is by far the easiest way to locate this pass, but our video was filmed in the opposite direction for maximum scenic value.
A pleasant little gravel pass close to Robertson in the Breede River Valley that connects Worcester with the R60 halfway to Robertson and provides a slower more scenic alternative to the R60. The road traverses two farming areas - first Rooilandia, then Eilandia. These two areas are separated by a ridge of mountains known as Die Bloubanke. The road interconnects all the farms in the valley with their immediate market towns and runs along the east/west axis on the northern side of the Breede River. (Wide or Broad River) The pass is suitable for all types of vehicles.
Die Venster translates into The Window. This is an easy pass with gentle curves and a fairly small altitude gain/loss. However, what it lacks in technical drama, it more than makes up for in terms of grand scenery. The road ascends gradually from the west through a curve to the left as it heads for the lowest point between two mountain ranges. From the summit, a vast landscape opens up featuring flat plains stretching as far as the eye can see with rugged mountains interrupting the Karooscape.
This scenic pass of 4,16 km descends through the attractive Diepkloof - a hidden kloof in the Swartberg and Skimmelberg mountains a few kilometres due west of the N7 and the Olifants River Valley approximately halfway between Citrusdal and Clanwiliam. The pass has some very steep gradients of 1;5 but these only last for short distances and will not present many problems for normal cars. The road does have some very sharp corners though, where caution needs to be exercised. This is a connecting farm road with low traffic volumes and offers a sublime drive for the less hurried traveller who enjoys gravel road driving. Best time to visit is June through to October.
The Doringkraal Pass is a short, low altitude gravel pass on a farm road approximately 10 km north-west of Heidelberg in the foothills of the Langeberg. The road follows the southern side of the Duiwenhoksrivier (Dove Cage River) and terminates at the point where the road crosses the river over a low level concrete bridge. This road is drivable in a normal sedan vehicle, but traction issues can happen if conditions are muddy.
This fairly long pass offers an easy drive on a safe, well constructed main route - the N12 - between Beaufort West and Oudtshoorn in the vicinity of Klaarstroom. When approaching from the north, this is the first set of mountains the N12 traverses after more than 100 km of almost arrow straight flat driving over the vast plains of the Karoo. The poort is named after the Droekloof Mountains, through which the pass winds. The name translates into Dry Ravine or Passage.
This gem of a pass is a well hidden secret, which lies in an isolated valley to the north of the Klipbokkrans and Baviaansberg mountains [1946m] and follows the natural kloof formed to the south of the Grasberg mountain [1638m]. It lies on the east/west axis and at 16,1 km is quite a long pass. It's not only long in terms of distance, but in time too. You will need at least 1,5 hours to complete the kloof itself and that excludes the southern return leg over many kilometres of farm roads. Multiple farm gates add to a fairly dodgy road, which can be in various states of disrepair, all add to the remote and rugged allure. It's best done in a 4x4 or at least a "bakkie" with good ground clearance and diff-lock. Despite the average gradient being an easy 1:30, there are some very steep parts, especially near the summit, which reach 1:6. During winter and after rain, there are multiple river crossings to negotiate, none of which are crossed over any bridges. The rewards however, are magnificent.
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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