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The Western Cape

This is a safe and easy pass that descends from the coastal plateau down the eastern flank of the Goukou River towards the coastal town of Still Bay. Everything about the pass is moderate but the views to the west are lovely over the river and valley. This is a safe all weather pass with very few dangers and is suitable for all vehicles. On the day of filming there were extensive road works with lengthy delays, so we have yet to film this pass.

The pass only has 5 easy corners and displays an altitude variance of 134m producing an average gradient of a mild 1;29, but there are some steeper sections near the summit area of 1:9

The Langkloof Poort is a well-known and much-loved route by off-roaders  which  links the town of Montagu with the Ouberg Pass and the Karoo highlands and gives access to the Anysberg Nature Reserve and the small town of Touws River. The road crosses back and forth across the Kingna river up to 18 times via concreted drifts! It is, to all intents and purposes, a lower extension of the Ouberg Pass; and the two are typically driven as one long pass.

 

Lawson's Pass is a 16, 2 km long 4x4 route over the Gamkaberg and is located about 35 km south-east of Calitzdorp in the Little Karoo. It lies within the boundaries of the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve and offers exceptional mountain and valley views, coupled with a true eco-experience and a good chance of spotting game. The route is only open to 4x4 vehicles with adequate ground clearance and it is rated Grade 2. With most of the steeper sections being concreted, there aren't really any traction issues. Although there are several out and back and extenstion options in the reserve, we describe this route as a one way pass starting in the north and ending in the south. To make use of this option, it's necessary to make special arrangements with the manager, as the south gate is locked and keys must be obtained.

This pass is located close to the western side of Swellendam on the tarred R60. It should be viewed in conjunction with its sister pass Bakoondhoogte which starts where this one ends, making it, to all intents and purposes, one long pass. The scenery is exceptional as the road runs along the foothills of the Langeberg Mountains. The Leeurivier (Lions River)  has cut a deep gorge through the mountains and the eastern hills of this gorge are named Leeuriviershoogte (Lions River Heights), after which the pass is named.



This minor 4 km long pass lies close to George Airport and is essentially the drop down into the gorge of the Maalgate River (Whirlpool River) and back up the opposite side. It forms part of the modern George bypass system on the N2. There are only three minor curves on this pass, but the gradients are as steep as 1:15. The road is in good condition and there are two lanes with wide safety shoulders in either direction. There are no appartent dangers and the pass is suitable is suitable for all vehicles. Watch out for accasional cross-winds at the bridge itself and slow moving trucks on the ascents.

Malanshoogte is a smallish tarred pass just north of Cape Town that connects Adderley Road in the north with the Contermanskloof Road in the south. The pass is 4,3 km long and presents an altitude variance of 110m producing an average gradient of 1:40 with the steepest sections, being on the northern side at 1:11. This is a fairly safe road with no apparent design dangers, but it should be noted that there are no safety shoulders (danger for cyclists) and some of the corners are quite sharp, so comply with the speed limits. A further hazard are many trucks accessing the quarry near the summit.

This official pass hardly conforms to the definition of a pass and if you were not aware of it, you would barely notice it as you cruise along the R60 between Ashton and Robertson. The 'pass' only has three gentle bends and climbs just 39m in altitude over 3 km.

It provides access to a number of points of interest in the Robertson Valley, which include the historic Rietvallei Wine Estate and the well known Sheilam Cactus Farm.

The hill is named after a settler farmer in the area - Gideon Francois Malherbe who lived from 1854 to 1922. The farms in the area remain in the Malherbe family to this day.

This short, but scenic poort forms a natural access point across the lower mountain range which separates the Langkloof at the N9 with the farming area along the Kammanassie river valley and Mount Daskop. The poort is fairly straightforward and the only dangerous point is in the middle of the poort where the road crosses the Matjies River via 90 degree bend over a low  level concrete bridge. The river allows the flora in the poort to flourish and the birdlife in this poort is known to be good. This poort does not appear on any maps as an official pass. We have named it solely for the purpose of indexing.

The Matroosberg 4x4 is arguably one of the most popular off-road routes in the Western Cape and is without question the most popular route to access snow in winter. Matroosberg originally received its name due to a rock formation visible from the Hex River Valley and N1 highway. This rock formation, about three quarter of the way up the mountain, shows a very distinct pinnacle, which is the “Matroos” (the Afrikaans for ‘sailor’) alongside his ship. “Berg” is the Afrikaans for ‘mountain’. Therefore “Matroosberg” roughly translated means ‘sailor mountain’. The road climbs 993m over 8,8 km to summit at 2230m ASL. For those wanting to reach the true summit, it involves a short walk to the beacon (2250m). The average gradient is a very stiff 1:9 with some sections being at 1:3. This route is currently rated as a Grade 4 in terms of difficulty, with the final few kilometres above the Groothoekkloof Canyon viewsite being a Grade 5. This route is not recommended for novice off-road drivers.

Meiringspoort is a Top 10 destination. The poort bears a tough history of floods and landslides amongst incredible hardships, yet our engineers and road builders mastered the art of building a magnificent road through this awe-inspiring poort. Part 1 covers the first 8 km. of the poort. The second video covers the final 8 km and and includes the  Interpretive Centre and main waterfall and ends near the charming village of De Rust.

The pass is in superb condition and offers typically gentle poort gradients, but the 63 bends, corners and curves do require a high level of concentration. It's easy to become mesmerised by the mind boggling scenery, so drivers need to remain focused and understand that the lack of safety shoulders and large volume of heavy trucks means a certain level of danger is always present. It's best to drive this poort on a weekend or public holiday, when there are fewer trucks. Stop often and enjoy one of South Africa's finest poorts which is packed with history.

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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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