Blounek (Merweville)

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Merweville is a fascinating village well worth a visit Merweville is a fascinating village well worth a visit - Photo: Kobus Smuts

There are three Blounek passes in South Africa and all of them are of a minor nature. This one is located on the gravel road between Merweville in the north and the Koup railway siding off the N1 in the south. It's not much of a pass at 2 km in length with a small altitude variance of 42m producing an easy average gradient of 1:48 with the steepest sections reaching 1:11.

The pass only has 2 bends and if you have not plotted the start and end points into your GPS, you might drive over it without realising it's an official pass.

The best reason for driving this pass is that it will take you to the little village of Merweville, which is packed with interesting buildings, fascinating history and earthy, friendly people.

We have not physically driven this pass ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps. The possibility exists that you might encounter locked farm gates. Make sure you have sufficient fuel to backtrack.

This is a provisional video consisting entirely of Google earth 3D animations, designed to orienteer drivers with the salient features of the pass. This pass will be filmed in real time in the near future. Scroll down to view the map & video. It is recommended to watch this video in HD. (Click on the "quality" button on the lower taskbar of the video screen and select 720HD.) Wait a few seconds for the video to display.....

[Video cover photo: Gert Du Plessis]

FULL-SCREEN MODEMODE: Click PLAY, then pass your mouse over the bottom right corner of the video screen. The outline of a square will appear. Clicking on it will toggle Full Screen Mode. Press ESC to return to the original format.

Note: Google Earth software reads the actual topography and ignores roads, cuttings, tunnels, bridges and excavations. The Google Earth vertical-profile animation generates a number of parallax errors, so the profile is only a general guide of what to expect in terms of gradients, distance and elevation. The graph may present some impossible and improbably sharp spikes, which should be ignored.

 Digging into the details:

Getting there: To approach from the north (as we have produced it), head south out of Mereweville on the tarred road to Prince Albert Road. After 1 km take the first gravel road to the right at GPS S32.678052 E21.514883. remain on this road heading generally south-west for 10 km to arrive at a 4 way intersection at GPS S32.751907 E21.459795 where you must turn right. Head west and later south for 23 km to arrive at the northern start of Blounek.

For those wanting to approach from the south, turn left (north) off the N1 46 km east of Laingsburg adjacent to the Koup railway siding at GPS S32.124018 E21.270663. Follow this gravel road first north and later east, then north again for 45 km to arrive at the southern start of Blounek.

SpringbokA lone springbok and another perfect Karoo sunset / Photo: Zoe Woodgate


Pass Description: Starting at its northern end at a dry river bed crossing, the road bends gently into the south-east via an easy right hand bend of 20 degrees and begins ascending at a very easy gradient of 1:40 towards a natural nek in the hills ahead.

The summit point of 767m ASL is reached at the 1,2 km mark, where the gradients suddenly ramp up sharply to reach 1:11. A 45 degree right hand bend changes the heading into the south for the descent which remains at a gradient of 1:11 for most of the rest of the pass.

There are no bends along the descent whatsoever, and the road levels off at the 2 km point where the pass ends. As is the case with many of the official passes in the Northern Cape, the cartographers had a penchant towards naming any little section of road that was not flat or had a hill nearby. Hence there are many insignificant little passes and poorts in this province which barely comply with the definition of a true mountain pass. So don't knock yourself out hunting this one down. It's much ado about nothing.


Fact File:


S32.827460 E21.327092


S32.833814 E21.337869


S32.840156 E21.337952














2 km




2 minutes


60 kph








Merweville (36 km)

Route Map:

Use these powerful features to get the best use out of the map:

  • Choose either Map View or Satellite View (overlaid on the map detail.)
  • Zoom in and out; rotate in any direction.
  • Use the Get Route'feature (directly beneath the map): type in your address to get a personalised route straight from where you are to the pass, with time and distance included.
  • Detailed written and printable directions.
  • Drag the 'little orange man' icon onto the pass for a complete 360° tiltable "street view".

From Address:

Route files:

||Click to download: Blounek (Merweville) (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

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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