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The Western Cape

This short and steep pass connects Gordons Bay on the R44 and Clarence Drive, with the Steenbras Dam at the top of the Hottentots Hollands mountains. This is also one of only a handful of passes in South Africa that has a hairpin bend in excess of 180 degrees. The road was built in the 1940's to service the water filtration plant near the top of the mountain. The road is restricted from the filtration plant where there are control booms and only bona-fide permit holders may proceed beyond that point. The road carries low traffic volumes, due to it's restricted nature and was purpose built to service the dam and filtration plant.

The Stettynskloof Pass is a fascinating drive offering a wide range of interesting features. It's a long pass at 18,3 km and the 245m altitude gain is barely noticeable due to the length of the pass. There are five smaller summit points along the route which present as a series of small passes all joined together along one long road.

Essentially this is a service road for the Breedekloof Irrigation Scheme with the double pipes of the irrigation scheme constantly being in one's view. This is the only detraction from an otherwise visually stunning drive, but to be practical, if the pipeline wasn't built, there wouldn't be a road either. The road mainly remains on the south-eastern side of the Holslootrivier which has carved this deep and rugged kloof through the Stettyn Mountains. It is most unusual for the kloof not to be named after its dominant river.

The road is well maintained by the Worcester Municipality and lies mostly on private land owned by the Dwarsberg Trout Hideaway, which is a large commercial farm, which also offers camping and cottages. So the good news is that if you're a guest of the farm, you may drive the pass. Anyone suffering from acrophobia should not drive this pass.

Besides the excellent camping facilities, the route also offers hikes and mountain biking. There is one particularly attractive hike to a waterfall, described in more detail lower down this page. the kloof also gained some fame when a Shackleton crashed there in 1963.

The Stormsvlei Poort is one of those delightful passes that few people know about, yet it is close to the main trunk routes and has a long history. The poort offers lovely scenery as it descends down from the Bonnievale area to the tiny hamlet of Stormsvlei. At 6,19 km with an altitude drop of 195m, it produces an average gradient of 1:17 with some of the steeper sections being at 1:9 The poort is tarred and summits at 311m ASL.

 

 

Strykhoogte is something of a mystery with no history available - even from locals in MacGregor. It is clearly an old pass as there are several sections utilising Thomas Bain's dry stone walling method to support the road. The pass runs through an arid area of the Little Karoo and offers wide views over mountains and farms. It forms the western border of the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve - a favourite weekend destination for birders and hikers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Suikerbossie section of Victoria Road has been separated from its northern half, as a tribute to the hundreds of thousands of cyclists who have walked, cycled, cramped, dreamt, succumbed to, capitulated or conquered this stretch of tarmac over the last 35 years. The dreaded Suikerbossie is the final climb of the 105 km long Argus Cycle Tour and it has seen it's fair share of perspiration, despair, anguish and triumph. It has a reputation for breaking dreams, hopes and aspirations.

 

The Swaarmoed Pass is located approximately 20 km north-east of Ceres. The name translates from Afrikaans into 'Heavy Courage'. The 16 km long tarred pass descends 629 vertical meters from the summit at 1212 m ASL. It is the favourite access route to the snow fields on the highlands near Klondyke and Erfdeel farms, the latter perhaps better known as Matroosberg with a summit altitude of 2249m ASL - it is also the second highest peak in the Western Cape. (The highest being the Seweweeks Peak in the Swartberg range).

The pass is well engineered with gradients seldom exceeding 1:11 and is suitable for all vehicles. The pass offers excellent views over the Warm Bokkeveld and the vast plains of the Ceres valley surrounded by an amphitheatre of rugged mountains. It does snow on this pass and on the rare occassions that this happens, there will immediately be considerable traffic on this pass and if snow coincides with a weekend, expect chaos as thousands of sightseers flock to the area to see the snow. The pass is the main access route to get to Matroosberg, which is the most popular point to gain access to the snowfields and drive the Grade 3 4x4 route up to the Groothoek Canyon viewsite.

The Swartberg Pass is for many South Africans, the rubicon of gravel road passes. There is an allure and a mystique around this old pass, coupled with its status as a national monument, which elevates this pass to the very top of the list. It was Thomas Bain's final and best piece of road building. Most of the historical points of interest are signposted along the pass. There are names like Die Stalletjie (Small Stall), Witdraai (White Corner), Fonteintjie (Small Fountain), Skelmdraai (Devious Corner), and of course Die Top, the latter sign is almost completely obliterated by graffiti by some folk who might feel they have just crested Everest and have this burning desire to paint their name on the well known sign.

The pass is very long at 23,8 km and it takes about an hour to drive, excluding stops. You will be treated to a wide variety of incredible scenery. The pass is not suitable for anyone suffering from acrophobia. It can be driven in any vehicle in fair weather. The Swartberg Pass has almost too much to offer the traveller with a never ending changing set of views - each as awe inspiring as the one before.

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The historic "Seven Passes" route between George and Knysna includes the Black River Pass or 'Swartrivier Pass' or in it's original format "Zwartrivierhoogte Pass"- a modern, tar road with smooth, sweeping bends making this pass seem almost effortless as it runs from the main road in George past the imposing Garden Route dam wall to cross over the Swartrivier and quickly rise up to the neck at Saasveld via a big S-bend.  The original pass was first used circa 1853.

 

 

An easy tarred pass on the N2 between Wilderness in the west and Sedgefield in the east, offering sweeping views over Swartvlei - a large semi-saline lake forming one of the many lakes in this region with the typical transparent onyx colour. The pass is 5,4 km long and descends 115m to cross the estuary via a low level bridge at sea level. The pass has several corners and some steep gradients at 1:10, but the corners are properly banked, making the road safe. Overtaking is difficult and most of the pass is controlled by double barrier lines.

A short, steep, cul-de-sac road of 2,7km that gives access to the seat of the Afrikaans language situated on a beautiful granite rock system on the western slopes of Paarlberg. The road is tarred, modern and well designed, but it is fairly steep with an average gradient of 1:13 and the steepest sections being at 1:6 near the turn-off to the amphitheatre. Regardless of whether you are Afrikaans or not, a visit to this holy grail of the young language of South Africa's Dutch pioneers, is a must if you are in the Paarl area. The monument, it's design, and the grounds attract large numbers of visitors for the aesthetic beauty of the architecture and the immaculate grounds and gardens. It speaks volumes for the Afrikaans people.

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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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