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The Western Cape

Signal Hill road is an out and back scenic drive/pass that starts at Kloof Nek and climbs very steeply under the eastern flank of Lions Head, to level off along the spine of the ridge. It runs due north providing superb views of the city bowl and further towards False Bay. As the road curls around Lions Rump (Signal Hill) you will experience rapidly changing views of first, the main harbour, then the V&A Waterfront, Green Point with the Cape Town Stadium as its focal point, then Sea Point. Nelson Mandela's incarceration on Robben Island brings back memories of another era in our history. It lies only 3 nautical miles out into the blue waters of Table Bay.

 

The Silver River Pass, is one of the Garden Route's 'Seven Passes', and covers 2,7 km of narrow, twisting tar-road driving through dense indigenous forests, descending to and from the Silver River starting where the Kaaimansgat Pass ends and finding its end at picturesque Wilderness Heights. The road is a national monument, and was built around 1882 by Adam de Smidt, who was Thomas Bain's Brother in law. The pass is the second of the official passes when travelling from west to east.

Many people consider the Kaaimansgat and Silver River Passes to be one continious pass as they run seamlessly from the one into the other. It has similar vital statistics to the Kaaimansgat Pass in that it is almost the identical length and displays an altitude variance of 86m. The difference comes in the number of bends on the Silver River Pass. It has 30 bends, corners and curves compressed within it's fairly short length, which equates to an average of one corner every 90m!

Sir Lowry's Pass was named after Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole, Governor of the Cape in 1828. Today's modern, cantilevered four-lane highway is a far cry from the original pass, which was recklessly dangerous and steep. Prior to the pass being built, all wagon traffic from the Overberg routed through the Franschoek Pass - the preferred route for many years with its kinder gradients for wagons and oxen. 

This scenic tarred pass connects the lovely riverside town of Bonnievale with the R60 a few kilometres to the east of Ashton. Its a fairly short pass at 3 km and gains 94m in altitude, producing an average gradient of 1:32. There are five relatively easy curves and bends along the pass as it meanders up towards the neck and summit called Skilpadshoogte, which translates into Tortoise Heights. The steepest section is the final 600m on the southern side of the summit where the gradient ramps up to a stiff 1:7

This gently meandering tar road along the valley between the impressive Slanghoek Mountains and the smaller Badsberg mountain showcases a restfully pastoral landscape of vineyards and fruit farms. A wine-tasting tour at the popular wine farms is a must for wine connoisseurs - locals and tourists alike! The drive through the valley is a visual feast, but watch out for pedestrians, animals, cyclists and slow moving farm vehicles.

A short, twisty and steep mountain pass that winds up the side of the Slangkop mountain offering sweeping views over the rugged Atlantic coastline with perfect views of the Slangkop Lighthouse. The pass is old and the tarred surface is not as smooth as more modern roads. It climbs 102 metres over 3,58 km producing an average gradient of 1:39 with the steeper sections presenting at 1:14. Since the new shortcut via Ocean View was built, this old road has quickly become one of the Peninsula's roads 'less travelled'. Don't miss out on this one - it's a real gem!

Translated from the Afrikaans to mean 'Blacksmith's Shop', this route delivers the best views when driven from south to north. The pass begins at the crest of the hill just past the turn-off to the Cape Point Reserve at an altitude of 146m ASL, then drops immediately down a 1km fairly straight section (with a gradient of around 1:11) towards a sharp left-hand bend of 90 degrees, where parking is available. The road forms part of a wonderful circular route around the Cape Peninsula and carries a lot of tourist traffic including tour buses 7 days per week.

This relatively short pass lies on the N2 between Riversdale and Albertinia and forms the eastern half of the twin Riversdale passes - the western one being the Goukou River Pass. The pass has an altitude variance of a mild 62 metres, but the the climb out on the eastern side is long and steep with a gradient of 1:11. This is a favourite spot for local traffic authorities to do speed checking, so watch the speed limit signs carefully or be prepared to cough up.

This short little pass winds up a small ridge and more or less follows the course of the Breede River on the outskirts of the dairy farming town of Bonnievale. There are just two easy bends along the 1.6 km length and the total height gain is 28m. Unless you are aware that it's a pass, you would drive over it not being any the wiser, but it is an official pass, duly recorded on the government 1:50,000 maps..

The pass lies on the tarred R317 route that connects Robertson and Bonnievale, the latter town being well known for the Parmalat dairy/cheese factory on the eastern side of town, a major employer in the valley, but Bonnievale also produces a lot of wine. There are a number of excellent wine estates along this route.

This is a minor pass on the N2 between Klein and Groot Brakrivier and follows the coastal hill descending continuously till the termination point at the crossing of the Great Brak River. The pass is named after the small suburb Suiderkruis (Southern Cross) just to the south of the pass. This sector of the N2 offers excellent quality roads through some of the finest Garden Route scenery and includes a number of passes both tar and gravel. For east-bound travellers on the N2, the Hoogte Pass starts where this pass ends, providing one long continuous pass of 14 km of pristine views over sun drenched beaches and Garden Route fynbos.

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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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