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The Western Cape

The Prinsrivier Pass should not be confused with the Prinsrivierpoort, which lies a few kms fiurther to the south east, on the same river. It's an unofficial pass and is technically a mixture between a pass and a poort. Whatever you decide to call it, you can enjoy a beautiful traverse of the Prinsrivier Valley with its green pastures. There are some very tight corners, narrow bridges and fairly steep gradients to keep the route interesting with fabulous views of big mountains on either side of the road. You can also pay a visit to the Prinsrivier Dam, with its crystal clear mountain waters.

This very steep, high altitude, gravel pass will be remembered a long time after you have travelled it. It is located on a reasonable gravel road between Merweville (40km) to the east and Sutherland (50km) to the west. It climbs 263 meters in altitude over just 2,6 km producing an average gradient of 1:10 with the steepest sections (which are concreted) ramping up to under 1:5. Whilst a 4WD in dry conditions is not mandatory, it could be a life saver in the wet. The pass is subject to heavy winter snowfalls and offers spectacular views with steep drop-offs down cliffs of some 300 meters in height. There are some sections on this pass which have negative cross-flow. If it's snowing, this could result in a rollover. We recommend not driving this pass under snow conditions, as things get considerably worse higher up the mountain. The chances of getting help in this remote part of the Karoo are slim.

This is an easy gravel poort in the heart of the Sandveld potato growing region that connects a range of local farms. It has a minor change in altitude and a single S-bend in the middle of the poort. Typical of a poort, it sports an easy average gradient of only 1:30 and the steepest section is a mild 1:16. The road is suitable for all cars, bearing in mind that gravel roads can change quickly in wet weather. In the dry season, the road is subject to corrugations, so adjust your speed accordingly. The road runs through a gap on the southern side of the Heerenlogement mountain, which plays host to the famous 18th century traveller's cave of the same name.

Red Hill Road is 7.6 km in length, packing a fantastic scenic punch into that distance, with most of it in the final 3.4 kms of descent. The road starts at the intersection of the M65 (the coastal road from Cape Point to Kommetjie) and the M66 (Redhill's official route designation.) It plays host to one of Cape Town's favourite long distance road running races - the 36 km Redhill Race. The road contains over 30 corners, bends and curves, which include no less than 6 hairpin bends - four of which occur on the eastern side of the mountain. Allow space on the hairpins for bigger vehicles, which will require the entire width of the road to negotiate the bends. Despite the extreme bends, the gradients are actually quite reasonable at 1:14 at the steepest point.

The Remhoogte Pass (Brake Heights Pass) is one of three back to back passes on the R60 between Swellendam and Ashton. The other two are the Bakoondhoogte and Leeuriviershoogte Passes. This is the biggest of the three in terms of altitude gained  and when summiting from the eastern approach, it provides exceptional views over the valley around Ashton with the vista of a semi circle of mountains to the right and ahead.

 

 

 

Rhodes Drive is a 7 km mountain drive along the eastern slopes of the Table Mountain range and connects Constantia Nek in the south with the suburb of Newlands. This is one of the most scenic wooded drives on the Cape Peninsula and traverses some of the plush suburbs of the Southern Peninsula. It is also the only access road to the world famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. From dense indigenous forests, to towering old pine trees, majestic mountains, hiking trails, picnic spots and world class botanical gardens - it's all there along the wonderful Rhodes Drive.  



The Robinson Pass on the R328 route, is a modern classic of the Southern Cape with beautiful sweeping curves and superb views around every corner. It's administrative number is TR 33-2.  It connects the coastal port of Mossel Bay with Oudtshoorn. The pass has been rebuilt several times over the past 140 years and offers not only fabulous scenery, but many pages of history around every bend. The pass is subject to heavy rain and frequent mountain mists, which reduces visibility and makes the pass dangerous. It has claimed many lives over the years including a bus full of international tourists. A memorial stone in their memory stands on the left hand side of the road about halfway up the pass.



A short and very steep gravel pass that connects the tiny settlement of Rondevlei on the shores of the Bo-Langvlei in the Garden Route's Lake District with the upper coastal plateau dairy farming region and the 7 Passes Road near Bergplaas and Beervlei forestry sectors. The pass is almost always corrugated and suffers damage quickly from heavy rain due its steep gradient. It provides attractive views of the lakes in the Garden Route National Park.

This old and little known route formed the most northerly access through the Winterhoek Mountains from Piketberg into the Tulbagh valley (also known as the Roodezand valley). This road is still clearly visible using aerial photography, but it is no longer publicly accessible and falls entirely on private farm land. We are listing it purely to index the four passes into the Roodezand valley and clarify the general confusion that the naming of the passes has caused over the years.

The Rooiberg Pass was built in 1928 most probably under the supervision of the Divisional Council of Oudtshoorn. It joins the tiny village of Van Wyksdorp with Calitzdorp over the Rooiberg Mountain. This is not a pass to be trifled with and although it can be driven in a normal car, a high clearance vehicle would be better. It is also a long pass at 14 km and contains some fairly rough sections. There are a total of 69 bends, corners and curves which include 6 hairpins and many other bends with a turning radius in excess of 90 degrees. It's a road for the less hurried traveller and offers wonderful views on both the northern and southern sides with valleys and ridges bedecked in fynbos and in winter you'll be treated to the sight of the bright orange flowers of hundreds of thousands of flowering aloes.

The pass has an altitude variance of 509m over a distance of 14 km producing an average gradient of 1:27 with the steepest parts measuring in at 1:7. All these considered, it is one you simply have to drive at least once in your life.

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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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