Grey's Pass in Cape Town's city centre is comfortably the shortest official pass in South Africa with a length of 97m. It also walks off with the winner in the category "Lowest Altitude Gain" of just 1 metre. This "pass" in no way conforms to our definitions of a mountain pass in any respect, but it is an officially listed pass, so we are documenting and indexing it. It takes another statistical record, in that it is the first pass that we show in it's full length with no editing necessary (and that includes filming it in both directions).
Grey's Pass is approximately 157 years old and was designed and built by Thomas Bain in 1857 using between 100 and 220 convict labourers. The road has been fully deproclaimed, which means ownership (and maintenance) has reverted to the land owners. This lovely old pass is unfortunately not publicly accessible. There are certain exceptions, which will be explained later.
On the northern end it can be accessed via the gravel road close to the entrance to the historic Modderfontein farm off the N7. The middle section is shared commonly with the Piekenierskloof Pass, whilst the southern section lies to the west of the N7 and descends down to the valley floor over private farm land. Today the pass traverses the property of 3 private land owners as well as state land on the plateau, where the old pass has been obliterated by the N7.
It's something of a mission to drive this pass and having to comply with all the permission requirements and backtracking. Based on this, we suggest that this pass should only be attempted by the more serious pass hunter.
This short pass descends along the Groenkloof along the north-south axis and offers good views over the coastal plain in the Pearly Beach area. The road is generally in a good condition, but like all gravel roads things can change quickly in wet weather.
The pass is 3,6 km long and displays an altitude variance of 164m producing an average gradient of 1:22 with the steepest section measuring in at 1:14. It connects Pearly Beach in the south with the Baardskeerdersbos and Elim settlements and also provides an access route to the Salmonsdam Nature Reserve as well as Sandy's Glen Pass.
This pass should not be confused with its more modern cousin – the Hoogte Pass on the N2, although the new one did effectively replace the old pass. The old pass lives on and is in surprisingly good condition. It services the farming areas near George as well as the town of George itself and connects them with Great
Brak, Glentana and some smaller seaside settlements. The pass was originally built by Henry Fancourt White in 1848.
The Grootrivier Pass - (on route R102) played a significant role in the economic developement of the Cape Colony and was originally built by Thomas Bain between 1822 and 1823. Together with it's sister pass, the Bloukrans Pass, they presented some highly technical problems to Bain, who had to contend with rockslides, mud, high rainfall, shale, unstable slopes and the omnipresent baboons. This pass is a perennial favourite and a joy to drive with its tortuous corners and stunning scenery amongst veryold forests of the Tsitsikamma.
The Grootrivierhoogte Pass forms part of the exceptionally beautiful route through the Southern Cederberg, connecting farms like Kromrivier, Matjiesrivier, Nuwerus and Mount Ceder, with the plateau of the Koue Bokkeveld. The road is made up of two major passes - the other being the Blinkberg Pass. Both offer stunning mountain scenery in crisp mountain air. The passes are seriously steep in some places - as steep as 1:5 !!!
The Grootrivierhoogte Pass is one of the steepest along this route and light front wheel cars will struggle on the final section near the summit in wet conditions, but for the vast majority of the year, this pass is doable in any vehicle. Take time to stop at the summit and allow the mesmerising mountain views to captivate your soul. From the summit one can look to the south and see part of the Blinkberg Pass, whilst the northern view includes Nuwerus, and Cederberg Oasis.
The Gwaing River Pass follows the Maalgate River River pass for east-bound motorists on the N2 bypass south of George. It's a short pass and exhibits a typical river valley vertical profile, dropping 108m in altitude and rising back up to the coastal plateau to virtually the same altitude as the western start. It lies is close proximity to George airport.
The Gydo Pass was built at the same time as Michells Pass by Andrew Geddes Bain and his team of convict labourers circa 1848. This important pass connected the Warm Bokkeveld with the higher altitude Koue Bokkeveld, as well as the remote, but fertile (and therefore lucrative) Witzenberg Valley a few kilometers west of the head of the pass.
The Gysmanshoek Pass follows an historical ox wagon route dating back to the mid 1700's. This is an old gravel pass through a natural cleft in the Langeberg Mountains between Heidelberg in the south and the Little Karoo/ Ladismith area in the north. It is driveable in a normal car in good weather, but if it's been raining, a 4x4 will be a better option.
Depending on the weather, things can get tricky on this pass. Not too many people have travelled this delightfully scenic and off the beaten track pass. It was originally named Hudson's Pass after the local magistrate. Take your time over this pass and stop frequently to enjoy the proteas, ericas and other flowering fynbos species. See if you can find the ruins of the old English fort which dates back to the Anglo Boer war.
The pass is 11,6 km long and contains 51 bends, corners and curves. The average gradient is a mild 1:36 but there are two very steep sections close to the summit,where the gradient gets as steep as 1:5 and FWD cars might well experience traction issues here (especially if driving from south to north) - even in dry weather.
This little known pass is just off the N7 route between Citrusdal and Clanwilliam and offers a tarred road in good condition that rises up the attractive Haarwegskloof with mainly easy curves and fairly comfortable gradients. It's a fairly short pass at 3,2 km and rises 165m in altitude, producing an average gradient of 1:19. The road is suitable for all vehicles.
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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