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The Western Cape

The Rooinek Pass is located approximately 17 km due South of Laingsburg in the Western Cape. The pass is fairly short at 3,15 km. and only gains/loses 73 meters of altitude, giving rise to an average gradient of 1:43. It is statistically a safe pass and has it's steepest gradient at 1:9. 

 

This short poort is just over 1 km in length and rises just 24 metres. It forms part of the R358 route between Bitterfontein and Loeriesfontein in Namaqualand. If you want to get away from it all - this is a good place to escape to. You might find a few cars here during the flower season of August and September, but for the rest of the year, you will probably be the only vehicle on the road. The poort is so-named after the red rocks found in the walls of the poort. It's best to add the GPS coordinates of this poort into your GPS, otherwise you will probably not be aware of it. In terms of technical complexity, this little poort is insignificant with only one minor bend and a tiny altitude variance.

An easy gravel pass with gentle gradients and rugged scenery in the heart of the Karoo on the R381, which together with the historic Molteno Pass and the small Blounek Pass, forms a trio of passes on the R381/P0058 which connects Beaufort West in the south with Loxton and the Northern Cape to the north. Two river crossings and a narrow ravine make this an interesting drive. Cautionary: The second set of bends to the left are very dangerous, with no barriers and steep drop-offs. Add very tight corners, negative banking and loose gravel and this is a receipe for a rollover down into the ravine. We recommend a speed of 30 kph through this section.

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The seaside town of Hermanus lies squashed into a narrow coastal plain with the Indian Ocean to the south and the Kleinriviersberge to the north. Running along the spine of this mountain range is a narrow road, partially tarred, known as Rotary Way and described officially as a 'scenic drive', which it most certainly is, but it also fully complies with the definition of a mountain pass. As the road is blocked off at its eastern end, it means one has to turn around and return the same way.

The road is 5,3 km long which makes it a 10,6 km drive in total. It climbs 188m producing an easy average gradient of 1:28, but the initial climb gets as steep as 1:15. The road is suitable for all vehicles, but it has no centre line and is narrow, so proceed with caution. The two view sites offer excellent views of Hermanus and the sweep of Walker Bay past the Kleinriviersvlei lagoon and on towards Gansbaai.

This short pass makes up for its lack of length in providing magnificent scenery of lakes, rivers, gorges and ravines amongst dense indigenous forests and pine plantations on the higher mountain slopes. It is one of several access roads between the N2 highway and the ever popular Old Cape Road or 7 Passes Road. This one is a gem and not used by many vehicles, so it's usually peaceful and quiet as its a sort of "road to nowhere". With two good tarred roads duplicating the purpose of this gravel pass, the majority of heavy traffic opts (as usual) for the tar. This leaves the Ruigtevlei Pass in peace and quiet.

South Africa and especially the Klein Karoo (Little Karoo) has some of the finest gravel roads for the purpose of eco-tourism. With the popularity of the GPS, these minor roads are just waiting to be discovered. The Rust en Vrede Pass (Rest and Peace) provides a fabulous drive along a gravel road with sufficient gradient and curves to make it a memorable mountain pass. It follows the east/west axis of the Swartberg Mountains on its southern side.

STOP PRESS - 9th Nov, 2018: We've had reports from two reliable sources that the gate at the eastern end of the pass has been locked, which means this pass is temporarily out of bounds. Please respect the landowner's decision. Should the situation change, we will announce it here.

This 14,5 km long unofficial gravel pass crosses five farms as well as forestry zones and connects the Helderstroom valley in the east with the R43 close to the western side of the Theewaterskloof Dam. The pass is named after a farm near the summit of the same name, but it's also known by a variety of alternative names which include Onbekendepas (Unknown Pass), Elandskloof Pass (there is another Elandskloof Pass just to the north-west of Villersdorp), Theewaters Pass and Helderstroom Pass.

The pass contains 79 bends, corners and curves of which four exceed 90 degrees, but there are no hairpins. In addition there are some very steep gradients of 1:5. The road is generally wide enough for two big vehicles to pass, but the surface can be rough and stony, depending on recent weather. There are also some sections where it degenerates into nothing more than a basic two spoor track, so there's lots of variety on this route.

We recommend driving this route from east to west for a number of reasons, which include your general safety, convenience, prevention of getting lost and maximising on the scenery. Although this pass could be driven in a high clearance 'bakkie' in fair weather, we recommend a 4WD vehicle. It is not suitable for normal cars (except rentals of course!)

The Sandberg Pass takes its name from the Sandberg which the road skirts on its southern side. The road is tarred in good condition and is suitable for all vehicles. The pass forms part of a longer tarred road which connects the R43 (Villiersdorp & Worcester) near the Kwaggaskloof Dam with Robertson. This road gently approximates the course of the Breede River along its southern bank and provides a much quieter and more scenic alternative to the truck laden R60 to the north.

This lovely and fairly long poort follows the gorge formed by the Sandfontein river. It is also locally known as 'Tilney Gorge North'. The poort falls within the section of privately owned land of the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and is only accessible to paying guests. It's 7 km long and follows the natural gorge carved out by the river, which is one of three rivers which feed into the main dam at Sanbona - the Bellair Dam.

The poort presents gentle average gradients of 1:49 and other than severe corrugations, should present no problems for all types of vehicles, regardless of whether 4x4 or not.

*Please carefully read the notes on public access to Sanbona lower down!

This is a semi-suburban old road demarcated on the government maps as an official pass. It is a straight forward fairly easy descent down a road which is a mix of gravel and tar and heads east towards Great Brak River and ends at a T-junction few kilometers later in the village.

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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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