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The Western Cape

The Eselbank Pass, a section of which also appears on some maps as the Kerskop Pass, connects the Moravian mission village of Wupperthal with its sister village of Eselbank to the south in a high altitude part of the Cederberg. The pass is 10,5 km long and is very steep in places, but these sections have been concreted which assists greatly with traction. It has an average gradient of 1:21 but the steep sections get up to 1:5.

You can enjoy fabulous mountain scenery along this pass and along the summit plateau area there are beautiful, weathered sandstone formations and Rooibos tea plantations. Allow plenty of time to complete the  route through to Matjiesrivier - at least 90 to 120 minutes.

Note: This route is not recommended for normal cars. Things can get a bit rough on this road. It's more of a track at times and especially so in bad weather. Having said that, I have seen some puny little front wheel drive cars successfully negotiating the entire route, but your car will be the worse for wear at the end. We have included four videos, which include an overview of the village as well as the waterfall.

This gravel farm road traverses a small gap in the mountains known as Eseljagpoort (Donkey Hunt Ravine). It crosses the farm of the same name and runs along the NW/SE axis and connects the Langlkoof from the tarred N9 with Heimersrivier, Oudtshoorn and Dysselsdorp in the Little Karoo. It provides an interesting alternative to the main tarred roads. Whilst this poort is minor in every respect, it does provide a feeling of distinct isolation and unusual tranquility.

Floorshoogte is a 16 km long tarred pass on the R43 between Villiersdorp and Caledon. It climbs/descends 257 meters to summit at 525m ASL producing a comfortable average gradient of 1:62, which is mainly due to an undulating middle section. The initial climb up from the Theewaterskloof Dam to the summit is a long, continuous climb with a gradient of 1:8 

 

 

Flouhoogte is a moderate pass on a gravel road in the Overberg not far from the sleepy town of Stanford. It has a classic vertical profile with a central summit point. There are only four gentle bends on this pass as it climbs 145m to summit at 215m directly opposite the Flouhoogte farmstead, which is where the pass takes its name from.

Translated from Afrikaans it literally means Weak Heights, but as is the case with translations, it can also mean Faint Heights. The latter is the more likely meaning as in the previous century it would have been hard work getting goods up that steep hill using wagons, oxen and mules.

The pass offers wonderful pastoral scenery of cultivated farmlands, with sweeping mountain views on the left, with the ocean sparkling just 25 km away to the right. This pass gives access to Kleinrivier Kloof Pass, Sandy's Glen and Groenkloof passes.

This easy gravel pass of 5 km descends towards the N7 at Trawal on the western side of a long ridge like mountain known as Fonteintjiesberg with a substantial altitude gain/loss of 323m, offering lovely views over the Tierpoort with the Gifberg Mountain in the far distance. This is a quiet farm road with low traffic volumes. The road is suitable for most vehicles, but it can get quite sandy during the long, hot summer months, which will affect traction. This road provides a wonderful alternative to the N7 for the less hurried traveller who enjoys gravel road driving.

Franschhoek Pass is also called Lambrechts Road, though - more poetically - a hundred and fifty years ago it was known as Olifantshoek ("Elephants Corner') after the now mythical herds of elephant which once roamed these valleys and mountains. This long, steep and dramatic pass with its variety of scenery was South Africa's first properly engineered road. During weekends city folk stream to the pass on bicycles, motorcycles, skateboards, cars and SUV's to enjoy it's sheer magnificence.

 

This has to be one of the most iconic gravel roads in South Africa, holding almost pilgrimage status to gravel-road devotees. It winds through 37km of rugged mountain scenery, culminating in the vertigo-rush, single-width Elands Pass, and terminates in the Gamkaskloof - reminiscent of a lush oasis and paradoxically nicknamed Die Hel (The Hell).

Due to it’s length, we have produced  a multiple video set to help orienteer first time drivers. We discourage anyone from trying to complete this as an out and back drive in a single day, due to the slow average speed of around 25 kph. Besides the time issue, it would be a shame to have to rush through this magnificent part of South Africa and not have the time to allow the Gamkaskloof to work its magic on you.

This short, rough gravel road winds its way up the slopes of the Goukamma River Valley just to the north of the N2 between Knysna and Sedgefield. The pass offers great views over the Ganzvlei farm, after which it is named, where it nestles on the green banks of the Goukamma River. The railway line (now defunct) lies between this pass and the N2. The road is primarily used by loggers living in the mountains and it's not suited to sedan vehicles, but any vehicle with good ground clearance will manage, although we recommend a 4WD vehicle is being optimal.

The 11,7 km long Garcia's Pass has a long and winding history predating 1860. It connects the farming town of Riversdale on the coastal plateau, with the inland Karoo town of Ladismith. The effective combination of Garcia's Pass and its sister-pass, the Tradouw Pass, did much to extend trade into the interior during the pioneering days of the 1820 Settlers.

This lesser known, Southern Cape pass is often ignored in favour of the much more famous Tradouw Pass 30 km to the west, between Suurbraak and Barrydale. It is a beautiful drive at any time of year - particularly the upper-plateau section where the road winds gently between the hills, mimicking the course of the river.

It's a long pass at 11,6 km and has an altitude variance of 397m with mostly easy gradients, but the southern side closer to Riversdale can get a bit steep at 1:10. The road is maintained to a high standard and has a good safety record. It is suitable for all vehicles.

The Gifberg (Poison Mountain) Pass is a challenging gravel pass (with two short tarred sections over the steepest parts) that ascends the Matsikamma mountain and connects the mountain top farms of the Gifberg with Vanrhynsdorp about 20 km to the north. The pass offers outstanding views, hiking trails, San rock-art, wildflowers, rockpools and waterfalls. It is the source of the Troe-Troe river which flows northwards through Vanrhynsdorp. The pass was originally built in 1917 and improved, widened and partially hard-surfaced over the years in an effort to improve safety.

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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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