The Western Cape

This 4,5 km pass has a classic profile, but the eastern ascent is much longer than the western descent. The pass provides access to the last farm along this rugged valley and is preceded by the Pietersfontein Pass. The two passes run back to back for a distance of 14,4 km and make for a magnificent gravel drive. There aren't many sharp corners, but the gradients get as steep as 1:6. It is the very steep, unguarded drop-offs on the left and the dazzling scenery that make this pass worth seeking out.

The Doornkloof Pass is named after the original farm in the small and compressed valley formed by the Doringkloofrivier. The road is a dead end so you will need to retrace your route back to Pietersfontein. It makes this pass quite exclusive and only the more dedicated pass hunters will seek this one out.

The second portion (descent) of the pass is marked as a private road, so please be aware of a possible trespassing issue, but the sign board announcing this is very small and can easily go unnoticed.

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 moderate pass of 3,5 km is located on a side access farm road, the OP 06104, which connects with the bigger gravel road, the P0294 exactly at the point where the Langkloof Poort becomes the Ouberg Pass. The road runs along the east west axis and follows the course of a small ravine along the Salmonswater river. The road provides access to several nature and game reserves, which include African Game Lodge and Mont Eco Nature Reserve.

It has an average gradient of 1:19 but those numbers are fudged by some fairly steep sections towards the eastern end where things get as steep as 1:7. The road can get quite rough after rainy periods, but on the day of filming it had recently been scraped and was in good condition. It is suitable for all vehicles in fair weather. Please note that this is an out and back route, so the pass has to be driven first ascending, then descending returning to your starting point.

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 and 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.

This easy, tarred pass lies on the R327 between Mossel Bay and Herbertsdale, and finds its end amongst green fields on the banks of the Gouritz River. The pass dates back as far as 1850. It's above the national average at 8,5 km and descends a substantial 253m producing an average gradient of 1:34 via 13 bends, corners and curves.

The main geographical feature of this pass, is its proximity to the Gouritz River which has a huge drainage area of 45,715 sq.km. The Gourits River flows from the confluence of the Gamka River and Olifants River and is joined by the Groot River, before flowing through the Langeberg Mountains and coastal plain. It eventually drains into the sea through the Gourits Estuary near Gouritsmond. At the point where the pass kisses the banks of the river, is one of the few places where the river can be accessed in tranquil mood over a wide floodplain.

This relatively new pass was constructed between 1984 and 1988 at the then staggering cost of R125,000,000. Leading up to the Huguenot Tunnel from its south side, is the awe-inspiringly beautiful, high-altitude Miaspoort Viaduct (the first of its kind to be built in South Africa!) The bridge is simultaneously curved and cambered --constructed by the incremental method.  It soars high above the farm-patchworked Miaspoort Valley. The 4 km-long tunnel drastically reduced the distance of the old pass by 11km. (Please note that the Google Earth satellite imaging cannot 'read' a tunnel; it instead follows the track of the road, so ignore the steep spike in the middle of the vertical profile.)

The old Du Toits Kloof Pass (officially designated as the R101) is 11km longer than the newer N1 route, and is certainly worth choosing over the new route if you're not in a hurry! Its grand, dramatic mountain views and elegantly constructed, tunnel whisks one back in time to an older, almost forgotten era -- when World War 2 impactfully changed the world with its bombs, genocide and bittersweet victories.  

This relatively unknown pass is located high in the mountains about 15 km south-east of De Doorns. It's of above average length at 5,3 km and descends 338m producing an average gradient of 1:16 with the steepest parts reaching 1:7. It offers exceptional mountain scenery as well as four very sharp bends in excess of 100 degrees. The oddly named Dwars in die Weg translates roughly into 'Transversely across the Way', with reference to a stand-alone peak Dwarsberg [1025.4m] which blocks the view near the western foot of the pass.

The road leads to the Keerom Dam. (Turnaround Dam) which is aptly named as this is the end of the road and the route has to be retraced back to the R318. The road is quiet and thoroughly enjoyable to drive. Please read the section on public access carefully in the main body of text lower down, so that you understand exactly at which point the road changes status from public to private.

Cautionaries: Sharp bends, loose gravel, very tight bends, steep unguarded drop-offs.

The Dwarskloof Pass is located between the N2 (east of Caledon) and the village of Greyton. It is a minor and completely safe pass and if you didn't know it was an official pass, you would probably miss it completely. It is nothing more than a long descent down a gravel farm road towards the Riviersonderend valley. The gradient is a very easy 1:44 and the steepest part is 1:11. It is perfectly safe for all vehicles and bicycles will have no issues either.

We filmed the pass from south to north to maximise on the beautiful mountain backdrop. Despite the placidness of this pass, it does offer magnificent scenery. In front of you the looming bulk of the Sonderend Mountains form a formidable obstacle, whilst the fields on either side are a mass of rolling hills clad in green and yellow (wheat and canola) in winter and spring. This is also a place you are likely to see South Africa's national bird - the Blue Crane.







 

 



 

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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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