Trapvoet Pass (4x4)

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Long, dusty and winding roads of the Karoo Long, dusty and winding roads of the Karoo - Photo: Photo: Panoramio

Located in the remote high mountain plateau north of Beaufort West and approximately midway between the Thomas Bain built Molteno and De Jager passes, the Trapvoet Pass winds its way steeply down a mountain and into a small canyon carved out by a river over the millenia. This road is long and rough and we don't recommend anyone attempting this one without a 4x4 with good ground clearance and low range. Part of the route crosses private property with locked farm gates. You will need to first obtain permission from the land owner. Contact details are posted lower down on this page.

Scroll down to view the map & video. This video consists only of Google Earth animated clips and serves to orienteer the prospective first time visitor to the pass. It will be filmed in real-time at some point in the future. 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 open.....

FULL-SCREEN MODE: 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: It's a fairly long drive getting to the pass and it would make sense if you are driving this pass to include it into a greater loop including some of the other big passes in the area. We would suggest driving the Molteno Pass first on the R381, or possibly also including the Bontebok Pass which is accessed near the bottom of the Molteno Pass.

Write these directions down: Turn right near the summit of the Molteno Pass at GPS S32.173181 E22.535355 at the farm Renosterfontein.  After 200m there is a fork - keep left. Continue on this gravel road for 13 km as it heads north, traversing the farm Matjiesvlei. The heading changes into the north west and climbs to an altitude of 1826m ASL at the 13km mark, where there is another fork. Turn LEFT at this fork at GPS S32.102673 E22.593997 Drive a further 2 km to the start of the Trapvoet Pass at the crossing of a small stream (usually dry).

Nuweberg MountainsAbove: The Nuweveld Mountains provide rugged scenery / Photo - PanoramioOnce you have completed the Trapvoet Pass, continue heading north  and NW for 23km, where the road joins another bigger road at a T-junction at GPS S31.937319 E22.676802. Turn RIGHT and head south-east for 18 km to descend down the De Jagers Pass to complete your trip back to Beaufort West having completed 3 passes in a loop. It's a long, slow drive, so start early. Note that sections of the Trapvoet Pass traverse private property and on occassion it is necessary to ask for permission. We have two golden rules which we ask all gravel road fans to comply with. 1.There are many farm gates that have to be opened and closed. Remember to ALWAYS leave a gate as you found it. This is a remote part of South Africa and if you break down, you might have a long wait. Make a note of farms that you pass and how far you are from each of them, in case of emergency.

The pass starts at its southern end at the top of a mountain ridge at the crossing of a small stream and reaches the summit at a lofty 1772m ASL within 800m. The descent is fairly steep at a gradient of 1:11. This first part of the descent follows a narrow valley and the prominent Trapvoetkop [1888m] can be seen to the right (at 2 o Clock). The view to the left is down a ravine called Matjieskloof.

The Karoo back roads are full of surprisesThe quiet back roads of the Karoo are full of surprises / Photo: Portugalia
The road bends sharply to the right through a 110 degree bend and heads purposefully for a ravine, where you have to negotiate the only hairpin bend on the pass. It's a hectic bend with a sharp drop and a very tight arc which turns through 180 degrees. Take this one very gently - at 20 kph or less. The road continues descending at the steepest gradient of 1:6 through an S-bend into the north-west.

The direction follows the course of the stream as it dives between two big peaks and turns to the right, into the north-east. This section of the pass is beautiful and very rugged as the road is hemmed into the kloof, which gradually widens revealing the next farm, which is Matjieskloof and is located at the northern exit of the kloof. The final section follows the southern flank of the farmstead, then turns sharply to the left and ends at the crossing of a small stream at a low level bridge.

Anyone who is serious enough about wanting to drive this pass, will need to contact the farmer to obtain permission. The road is a publicly accessible road but the farmer has ben subjected to excessive stock theft in recent times, forcing him to lock the gates. He is often away from mobile reception for extended periods doing his business of game capture. Allow a fortnight to get a response from him, but he will grant permission to drive the pass if your reasons for doing so are authentic enough..

The farm in question is called 'Karoo Game' and the owner's name is Gerhard. He can be contacted on 083-460-3968. Details correct as at 8th March, 2019. Information provided courtesy of Tracks4Africa.

If you are looking for interesting passes to drive in this lovely part of the Central Karoo and you want to start and end at Beaufort West, we suggest this circular route:

01. Molteno Pass (Tar and gravel)
02. Bontebok Pass (4x4 only on private property -Optional out and back)
03. Blounek Pass (Tar)
04. Bastards Poort (Gravel - Optional out and back)
05. Roseberg Pass (Gravel)
06. Trapvoet Pass (Gravel - 4x4 only - The page you're on)
07. De Jagers Pass (Gravel)
08. Klipspringer Pass (Tar - inside the Karoo National Park)
09. Pienaars Pass (4x4 Only - inside the Karoo National Park)
10. Spitskop Traverse (Gravel - a circular scenic drive)

Another perfect Karoo sundetAbove: Another perfect Karoo sunset / Photo: WillToGo.com

Fact File:

GPS START  S32.087155 E22.594332
GPS SUMMIT S32.080820 E22.591143
GPS END  S32.043055 E22.582355
DISTANCE 6,90 km
TIME REQUIRED 20 minutes
SPEED LIMIT None (Self Limiting)
DATE FILMED 28.02.2015
NEAREST TOWN Beaufort West (35 km)

Route Map:

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From Address:

Route files:

||Click to download: Trapvoet Pass (Note - this is a .gdb file which can be opened in most GPS devices)

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