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The Western Cape

The Truitjieskraal Road forms part of an escape route via the Kromrivier farm and Kromrivier Pass, when the Matjiesrivier is in flood. It's a fairly rough gravel road, which only allows a speed of around 20 kph. The route is 8,5 km long and climbs 108 vertical metres over that distance, most of it over the first two kilometres, with some stiff gradients of 1:8.

After that the road meanders between beautiful weathered Cederberg sandstone formations over a wide mountain plateau amongst pristine fynbos and proteas and terminates at the bridge crossing at the well known Kromrivier farm. The route is doable in a normal sedan car, providing speed is kept low. This road gives access to the Truitjieskraal rock formations, as well as the rock-climbing routes and hiking trails.

This short pass is located about 35km north of Matjiesfontein on the tarred R354 to Sutherland. The pass is safe and presents no apparent dangers if the speed limits are adhered to. The pass is located about 45 km south of the much bigger Verlatenkloof Pass. No-one seems to know who the Turck is in the name Turck se Pas (Turck's Pass).

Although the pass is relatively safe and well designed, it has some big corners, but all of them have correct cross flow and if the 80 kph speed limit, as well as barrier line restrictions are adhered to, there should be no problems. This pass also provides access to the gravel road that runs through the mountains to the east of Sutherland, which includes the triple passes of Bakenshoogte, Smoushoogte and the Komsberg Pass.

This old farm road has been modernised over the years and today carries bumper to bumper traffic to the northern suburbs around Durbanville. The 3,6 km long tarred road (designated as the M13), descends 135m producing an average gradient of 1:27, but the curvy part near Hillcrest is quite steep at 1:7. The pass plays host to a number of quality wine estates, including Bloemendal, Nitida, Hillcrest and Durbanville Hills. The little pass is also colloqually known as Tiekiedraai for its very sharp corner near Hillcrest.



 

The 4.7 km Uitkyk Pass joins the northern and southern Cederberg Wilderness areas. Of medium length and fairly steep, this pass is true to its name, which translates as 'Look Out' or 'Viewpoint', providing endless vistas of the unique Cederberg mountains, with the Algeria Valley beckoning down below with it's beautiful grassed campsites and refreshing rock pools.

The pass is sometimes listed as the Cederberg Pass on older maps with the old pass (which runs up the eastern side of the ravine) which it replaced, being listed as the "Old Uitkyk Pass". Take your pick! There is another Uitkyk Pass in Mpumalanga, so 'Cederberg Pass' would have been a wiser choice. Some maps also show the Nieuwoudts Pass as the Cederberg Pass.  There is another pass on the Wupperthal Road further to the north-east also called Uitkyk Pass on older maps, which has had a sensible name change to Hoek-se-berg Pass.

The much loved gravel pass was tarred in late 2019.

There are three passes that traverse the Gouritz River. From south to north these are the Gouritz River Pass on the N2 national road, the Jan Muller Pass (Gravel) which bridges the river some 32 km further north (as the crow flies) and lastly the Uitspan Pass, which crosses the Gouritz River another 16 km northwards.

The Gouritz River is an interesting river which has caused farmers and road and rail builders many problems over the years. Its gorge is deep and wide, yet for most of the year it is dry and dormant, but when the rains come, this river can be savagely lethal. Both the Jan Muller and Uitspan passes cross the Gouritz by means of low level causeways. In times of flood, these crossings are extremely dangerous. If  there's a strong current running, it's better to retreat and use an alternative route. The crossings are wide and one wrong move and your vehicle could be washed off the causeway with disastrous consequences. 

The Uitspan Pass is both a pass (at its western side) and a beautiful poort on its eastern side. It's 7.2 km long and contains 53 bends, corners and curves, many of which are extremely sharp, including 3 full hairpin bends. Although the average gradient is a mild 1:100, there are a few sections that get as steep as 1:6.

The pass can be driven in any high clearance vehicle in fair weather.

 

This is a serious off-road pass that involves a bridgeless river crossing, long sections of stepped rock inclines, sharp corners, razor sharp tyre slicing rocks, loose stones, steep gradients and immense views over the Doring River valley. It is only possible in a high clearance 4x4 with low range or for motorcycle riders, a lightweight bike will also do the trick. This road is not recommended for inexperienced drivers/riders. The pass straddles the border of the Western and Northern Cape and forms part of the R2266 gravel road that connects the Biedouw Valley with the R355 south of Calvinia.

Uniondale Heights is a 4,62 km long tarred pass on the N9 route between Uniondale and Willowmore. It is located just outside Uniondale and descends from the Karoo plateau of around 820 meters ASL down the mountain to the north of the town via a well designed, modern pass with easy gradients, good cambers and gentle curves. The pass terminates right opposite the centre of Uniondale at the crossing of the Kammanassie River.

 

The Uniondale Poort was completely rebuilt over a lengthy period after being seriously damaged by floods about a decade ago. Today one can enjoy this lovely scenic drive through the poort on a beautifully engineered, modern road taking in the stunning rock formations and some small waterfalls if you are lucky enough to drive it after or during good rains. The road was first built through the poort in 1925 and it was tarred in 1960. It carries a secondary name of 'Queen Street'. The major, modern reconstruction took place between 2007 and 2010 during which phase traffic was routed to Uniondale via the Potjiesberg Pass on the N9.

The Van Der Stel Pass is a fairly easy, but long, gravel road pass between Bot River and the Theewaterskloof Dam in the Overberg region. It mainly serves the farming community. The road is generally well maintained and is suitable for all vehicles. This is a fairly long pass at 17 km, but the gradients are very easy at a mere 1:145 with the steepest section near the summit at 1:6

 



This is a lovely gravel pass on the little travelled back road that parallels the southern side of the N1 between Laingsburg and Touws River. It gives access to the Witteberg area and includes the beautiful Witteberg Private Nature Reserve as well as a number of farms that operate along this remote Karoo valley. The pass has an unusual profile in that it has a long plateau in the middle with steep ascents and descents on either end.

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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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