Goukou River Pass (N2)

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The long and steep descent into the Goukou River valley The long and steep descent into the Goukou River valley - Photo: Trygve Roberts

This 6,8 km long pass descends from Riversdale Heights adjacent to the Werner Frehse Nature Reserve, at a fairly steep gradient to cross the Goukou River at the 3 km point, having descended 143 vertical metres. It rises back up the eastern side to end at an altitude of 157m ASL. This pass and the one following it immediately where this one ends - the Soetmelksrivier Pass have been the scene of several serious and fatal accidents over the years. The road has been widened and the corners improved to assist with the safety of the road. Speed monitoring regularly takes place, so it's best to comply strictly with the speed limits.

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Digging into the details:

Getting there: Drive through Riversdale on the N2. The pass starts just after the new tourist complex on the eastern side of town at the top of the big hill adjacent to the Riversdale Airfield.

The descent begins gently at first through a gentle left hand curve as a wide view over the Goukou River valley can be enjoyed. The road is wide and newly constructed with three lanes for most of the distance, allowing for safe overtaking of slow moving traffic.

Modern engineering on the pass ensures better safetySolid retaining walls and overtaking lanes have improved the safety standards / Photo: Trygve RobertsThe road straightens out and the descent gradient steepens to 1:11 as the old and new road bridges come into view just after an easy right hand bend. After crossing the bridge, the road bends more to the right and assumes a southerly heading. Along this next section of 1 km the gradient flattens out and even climbs a little as the road paralells the river and two large farms are traversed.

The road then sweeps into a tighter left hand S-bend as the climb out of the valley begins in earnest. For ascending traffic the road widens into two lanes for the 2 km long ascent to the top of the hill. It should be noted that the right hand lane carries a minimum speed limit of 60 kph. The pass ends at the crest of the hill at the 6,8 km point and runs seamlessly into the Soetmelksrivier Pass.

Another trucking accident statisticYet another truck overturns on the pass / Photo by Rob CoomberThis pass should be read/watched in conjunction with its sister pass, the Soetmelksrivier Pass, which begins where this one ends. The Goukou River is a fairly short one which sources in the Langeberg mountains to the north of Riversdale and heads in a southerly direction and reaching the coast some 35 km after the pass at the picturesque holiday village of Stil Bay.

Riversdale is an agricultural service oriented town, being a hub for shopping and other services for surrounding farming communities, smaller towns, and coastal resorts, like Witsand and Stilbaai. It is located beneath the imposing Langeberg Mountains to the north, with the Sleeping Beauty mountain overlooking the town.The town was founded as a church on the farm, Doornkraal, and was subsequently named after Harry Rivers, the then incumbent Civil Commissioner of Swellendam. It was proclaimed a town on 30 August 1838.

Fact File:


S34.113962 E21.253914


S34.133326 E21.275753


S34.152566 E21.301159














6,8 km




4 minutes


80 - 100 kph


Tar (N2)






Riversdale (3 km)

Route Map:

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Route files:

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

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