Martjie Se Nek is a gravel road pass situated near Vaalwater in the Limpopo province. The road is wide and in good condition for most of the pass, but there are sections that have been heavily damaged by water runoff, necessitating the use of a high clearance vehicle, although a 4x4 would not be required. The clay surface of the road is badly corrugated, and would become treacherous in wet weather. The views from the flat section near the summit towards the south are magnificent, and provide a seemingly never-ending vista over the plains below the escarpment.
Brown’s Cutting is an obscure gravel road pass situated in the north-western corner of Limpopo province near Vaalwater, quite close to the Botswana border. It presents a challenge in that it is difficult to find, and will test your orienteering skills and sense of direction to the limit, particularly from the northern side. Although the pass itself is not very difficult to negotiate, the approach roads can be tricky, and some offroad driving experience would be helpful. You will need to be a dedicated pass-chaser to tick this one off your bucket list!
Geyersnek is located approximately 18 kms to the south-west of the small town of Swartruggens, in the North West province. The pass is named after Hendrik Frederick Christiaan Geyer (1884 – 1964) of the farm Rietfontein, and is situated on an obscure public road to nowhere, the D1065. The road surface is gravel (red clay) but is usually in a reasonable condition.
Although in dry weather a 4x4 would not be required, a high clearance vehicle is strongly recommended to drive this pass. The scenery around Geyersnek and on the approach roads is spectacular and lush, with rolling pastures and game farms in every direction, and is a nature photographer’s dream, particularly in spring or summer.
At 670m this is one of the shortest passes on our database, but this little pass has plenty to offer the traveller. In that short distance are dense coastal forests, steep descents, a gravel surface, some water diversons, nine corners of which two are very sharp as well as fabulous views over the Indian Ocean at the Goukamma Nature Reserve's Platbank Beach.
This short, rough gravel road winds its way up the slopes of the Goukamma River Valley just to the north of the N2 between Knysna and Sedgefield. The pass offers great views over the Ganzvlei farm, after which it is named, where it nestles on the green banks of the Goukamma River. The railway line (now defunct) lies between this pass and the N2. The road is primarily used by loggers living in the mountains and it's not suited to sedan vehicles, but any vehicle with good ground clearance will manage, although we recommend a 4WD vehicle is being optimal.
Vlieepoort, also commonly referred to as Vliegepoort, is located in the Crocodile River valley to the west of Thabazimbi. The Crocodile River originates in the Witwatersrand area and flows in a northerly direction, via the Hartbeespoort Dam, until it joins up with the Marico River on the Botswana border. Here it forms the Limpopo, which was popularized by Rudyard Kipling as “the great grey-green greasy Limpopo River” in his short story The Elephant’s Child. Like most other poorts, Vlieepoort is fairly flat and has a height gain of just 42 metres, but it is much longer than the national average at over 12 kms. The road surface is gravel, but it is generally in a good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, weather dependant.
Although this pass appears to have been named after the now extinct Quagga, which died out in South Africa at the end of the 19th century, it is far more likely that it was named after Burchell’s Zebra, a plains zebra which is often colloquially called the Kwagga. The Quaggas habitat never extended north of the Vaal River, whereas the zebra was, and still is, common in this area. This gravel pass is just 3.3 kms long, and has a mild average gradient of 1:25. The pass and the approach roads are generally in a good condition, and should present no problems for any type of vehicle, weather dependant.
“Die Noute” translates directly into English as “The Narrows”, and this pass is probably named as such because it climbs up the mountains through a narrow kloof. But the term is often used idiomatically in Afrikaans, as in “as jy in die noute beland” which loosely translates to “if you have to tighten your belt”, so it could also refer to hardship and trouble. The pass is just 1.1 kms long and has a height difference of only 36 metres, but it traverses neatly through dense riverine forest, and in some ways is briefly reminiscent of the 7 Passes road between Knysna and George.
This well hidden gravel pass lies in the southern sector of the Northern Cape in an area knows as "Die Hantam" about 40 km north-east of Nieuwoudtville. It is primarily a farm road and offers not only unusual and rugged scenery, but provides a sense of peace and timelessness in this sparesely populated region of South Africa. The biggest attraction to drive this pass is that it descends through an astonishing Quiver Tree (Kokerboom) forest - probably the densest population of Kokerbome anywhere in South Africa. The best time to visit is in late winter and spring when the landscape is a riot of colour as far as the eye can see.
This easy gravel pass of 5 km descends towards the N7 at Trawal on the western side of a long ridge like mountain known as Fonteintjiesberg with a substantial altitude gain/loss of 323m, offering lovely views over the Tierpoort with the Gifberg Mountain in the far distance. This is a quiet farm road with low traffic volumes. The road is suitable for most vehicles, but it can get quite sandy during the long, hot summer months, which will affect traction. This road provides a wonderful alternative to the N7 for the less hurried traveller who enjoys gravel road driving.
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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