A chat about the construction of SA’s oldest unaltered pass – the Montagu Pass near George.
Listen to the interview:
We discuss the Montagu Pass and its predecessor the Cradock Kloof Pass, near George.
The audio quality is poor due to the major anti-cyclone on the day of the interview.
Listen to the interview:
This underrated tarred pass lies on the N12 route between George and Oudtshoorn. It's a long pass at 17,1 km and has a substantial altitude variance of 312m. It offers wonderful Klein Karoo scenery, several impressive cuttings and of course the well known horseshoe bend of 170 degrees, which in Afrikaans is a 'perdeskoendraai' and where the pass takes its name from. This is a very busy road with many trucks and other commercial vehicles in the mix - all of whom seem to be in a hurry. Factoring in a fairly uneven road surface, no safety shoulders and barrier line transgressions, you need to be focussed as this pass has a high accident rate.
The road and the railway line share the northern sector along the banks of the Kliprivier for 8 km, then part company as the road climbs steeply away to the east towards the horseshoe bend, whilst the railway line takes a longer, more gentle gradient towards the west.
Just north of the Outeniqua mountains along the N9 national route lies a pass that very few people know exists, despite the fact the thousands of vehicles commute over the route daily. The Beveraas Kloof is formed by the north flowing Waboomskraal river that descends from the summit area of the Outeniqua Pass and is fed by at least three powerful tributaries. This lovely section of roadway is mostly overlooked compared to the limelight which inevitably goes to the nearby Outeniqua Pass. The Beveraas Kloof Pass is fairly short at 4,6 km and presents an altitude variance of only 60m producing an easy average gradient of 1:115 with the steepest parts being at 1:11. This road is technically much more of a poort than a pass. It's named after the original farm Beveraas Kloof, which is located on the western side of the road and is frequently listed with the slightly different spelling of Beverass, which is typical of how older names get changed over time to suit a local dialect.
The Gwaing River Pass follows the Maalgate River River pass for east-bound motorists on the N2 bypass south of George. It's a short pass and exhibits a typical river valley vertical profile, dropping 108m in altitude and rising back up to the coastal plateau to virtually the same altitude as the western start. It lies is close proximity to George airport.
This minor 4 km long pass lies close to George Airport and is essentially the drop down into the gorge of the Maalgate River (Whirlpool River) and back up the opposite side. It forms part of the modern George bypass system on the N2. There are only three minor curves on this pass, but the gradients are as steep as 1:15. The road is in good condition and there are two lanes with wide safety shoulders in either direction. There are no appartent dangers and the pass is suitable is suitable for all vehicles. Watch out for accasional cross-winds at the bridge itself and slow moving trucks on the ascents.
This short and steep tarred pass connects George with the uber-cool surfing beach of Victoria Bay. The road has some dangerous bends and steep gradients and there are often pedestrians and cyclists on this road. To add to these issues, there are no safety shoulders either. The steepest gradients are 1:8 and the road ends in a dead-end.
This pass should not be confused with its more modern cousin – the Hoogte Pass on the N2, although the new one did effectively replace the old pass. The old pass lives on and is in surprisingly good condition. It services the farming areas near George as well as the town of George itself and connects them with Great-Brak, Glentana and some smaller seaside settlements. The pass was originally built by Henry Fancourt White in 1848.
This little pass is an absolute gem, but the pass falls on private property and only owners, guests and other authorised personell may drive this road. About 30 luxurious homes grace the hillside overlooking Ballots Bay and the endless blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The road is a two spoor paved road, in good condition. It also offers access to another residential area, Carmel Valley, at a split in the road about halfway down the descent. The scenery is breathtaking, but the road is very narrow and exceptionally steep along much of its length. On this road you will find some the sharpest hairpin bends in South Africa, where longer vehicles might have to do 3 point turns or at the very least full lock to make the turns. There are two sliding gates requiring remote codes at the start and about two-thirds of the way through the pass.
This fairly short poort routes through a clear gap in the mountains just north of Heroldt and forms a natural northerly extension to the historicial Montagu Pass on an easy traverse towards Oudtshoorn. This little poort seems to have been forgotten and completely dominated by the grandeur of the Montagu Pass, but a closer look at the Paardepoort (The Pass of Horses), reveals an old road, built in similar style to Bain's work of the late 1800's, which can be clearly seen on the opposite side of the poort with substantial retaining walls still adequately propping the old road up, above the river.
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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