Du Plessis Pass (R327)

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The Gouritz River marks the northern end of the pass The Gouritz River marks the northern end of the pass - Photo: Trygve Roberts

This easy, tarred pass lies on the R327 between Mossel Bay and Herbertsdale, and finds its end amongst green fields on the banks of the Gouritz River. The pass dates back as far as 1850. It's above the national average at 8,5 km and descends a substantial 253m producing an average gradient of 1:34 via 13 bends, corners and curves.

The main geographical feature of this pass, is its proximity to the Gouritz River which has a huge drainage area of 45,715 sq.km. The Gourits River flows from the confluence of the Gamka River and Olifants River and is joined by the Groot River, before flowing through the Langeberg Mountains and coastal plain. It eventually drains into the sea through the Gourits Estuary near Gouritsmond. At the point where the pass kisses the banks of the river, is one of the few places where the river can be accessed in tranquil mood over a wide floodplain.

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Digging into the details:

Getting there: There are several ways to access this pass. To approach from the east (the direction we filmed it) , we are using the easiest route from the N2 near the Mossgas plant. Turn north at GPS S34.180605 E22.017562 onto the tarred R327 towards Herbertsdale. Drive for 21 km in a westerly direction to arrive at the eastern start of the Du Plessis Pass.

To approach from the west drive southwards out of Herbesrtsdale on the R327 for 8,5 km to arrive at the northern start of the pass.

We filmed this pass from east to west in the descending mode. It starts at it's summit point of 308m ASL and descends gently down its 8,5 km length to end near the banks of the Gouritz River at an altitude of 55m. With an average gradient of an easy 1:34 this pass should present no problems to any vehicle.

Herbertsdale collageCollage by Lisa RobertsThe views all along the pass are over grassy hills and wooded vales with the brooding bulk of the Oueniqua mountains in the distance to the north. At the 1 km mark, the road enters a wide S-bend to the right and the gradient gets steeper, peaking at 1:12.

After the S-bend, the road straightens out into the west and begins a long, straight descent towards the river. At the 6,7 km mark, there is a 4 way intersection,  and immideately after the Gouritz River is reached. The pass ends just after a horshoe loop in the river, where there is a place to stop and enjoy the sight of the Gouritz as it heads for the ocean a few kilometres to the south. Here the valley is filled with birdsong and the power of the Gouritz becomes obvious as the flood levels can be accurately guaged. This is a river of extremes, which can be just a trickle and at other times a raging, surging torrent of brown water that drains from a vast expanse of the Karoo with multiple feeder rivers.

Continue for a further 9 km to arrive in the small town of Herbertsdale. There are several route options from this point for further "pass hunting" - beyond Herbertsdale, heading north into the mountains. The town of Herbertsdale is nestled in the Langtou Valley. It was established in 1865 on the farm Hemelrood and named after James Benton Herbert, who owned part of this farm.

Du Plessis Pass viewLooking north-west down the pass / Photo: Andjrez Pacynski Amongst the other passes in the area are the Cloetes Pass and the Jan Muller Pass which crosses the Gouritz River gorge high in the mountains. There is also the Rooiberg Pass and the Assegaaibosch Pass on the same road close to Calitzdorp.

About 1km North of the quaint village of Herbertsdale, you will find a small gravel road leading to your right. This is a public farm road, which will lead you through some beautiful, though not major, passes --- via the Hagelkraal farm and ultimately back to the tarred R328. En route you will cross the access road to the old Attakwaskloof Pass. Once you reach the R328, if you haven't had your fill of mountain passes, you can turn left and visit the Robinson Pass(All of these passes are featured on this site.)

Fact File:


S34.103182 E21.839755


S34.103182 E21.839755


S34.073389 E21.764173














8,5 km




8 minutes


100 kph


Tar (R327)






Herbertsdale (5 km)

Route Map:

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Route files:

||Click to download: Du Plessis Pass   (Note - This is a .kmz file which can be opened in Google Earth and most GPS software systems)

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Mountain Passes South Africa is a website dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.

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