This interesting gravel pass is located (as the name suggests) in the Klein Swartberg mountains about 40 km south of Laingsburg on the R323/P315 road. It is one of a series of passes and poorts in the area, which provide a fascinating range of options. The pass was built by Thomas Bain in 1880. Please read the detailed notes carefully as there is one very dangerous section on this pass you should be aware of.
This very old gravel pass, which was once a toll road in the late 1880's lies south-east of the Klein Swartberg Pass between Laingsburg in the north and Ladismith in the south. With an easy average gradient of 1:36 over 8,5 km the pass can be driven in any vehicle and offers pleasant kloof scenery with the Klein Swartberg mountain [1164,5m] dominating the views to the right. The highlight of the pass is the original dry stone walling which still supports the road. There is a high probability that this pass was built by Thomas Bain, who also built the nearby Klein Swartberg Pass in 1880.
The Prinsrivier Pass should not be confused with the Prinsrivierpoort, which lies a few kms fiurther to the south east, on the same river. It's an unofficial pass and is technically a mixture between a pass and a poort. Whatever you decide to call it, you can enjoy a beautiful traverse of the Prinsrivier Valley with its green pastures. There are some very tight corners, narrow bridges and fairly steep gradients to keep the route interesting with fabulous views of big mountains on either side of the road. You can also pay a visit to the Prinsrivier Dam, with its crystal clear mountain waters.
This unofficial gravel pass lies to the south of the Anysberg mountains along the course of the Touwsrivier where the Sewefontein farmlands form a ribbon of green pastures along the banks of the river. The pass descends into the valley from the west, then crosses the river and follows the northern bank for some distance before ascending up the eastern side. It's a fairly easy pass in terms of road surface and gradients, but there are a few dangers to be aware of.
A fairly steep gravel pass on a minor farm road between Verkykerskop in the south and Vrede in the north. The pass has an altitude variance of 175 vertical metres over 2,4 km to summit at 1949m, producing an average gradient of a stiff 1:13. This one will be slippery when wet and lethal when it snows.
This is a short, steep, but minor climb over a hill on the gravel road linking Newcastle in KZN with Memel in the Free State. The pass has an average gradient of 1:16, but the climb up the steeper eastern side is as steep as 1:7. The road is important for gravel pass fans as it gives access to both the Normandien and Mullers Passes.
This is the final of a trio of passes and poorts on the P1721 route when travelling from west to east. It follows the course of the Bloupunt river and its tributary as it heads into an ever steepening poort of twisted and contorted rock formations to terminate at the northern end of Meiringspoort. It's downhill all the way for the 3,29 km length of the poort with an easy average gradient of 1:29. There are a few cattle grids on the route and one farm gate which must be closed after passing through.
This enjoyable and very scenic gravel pass on the northern slopes of the Swartberg mountains, is the middle one of a trio of passes and poorts on the P1721. It connects the farm Kleinvlei in the north with the Sandkraal and Witrivier farms in the south. The pass can be driven by all vehicles and although fairly steep in places, should present no problems in fair weather. This is not an official pass.
An easy drive through a poort that follows the course of the Aapsrivier (Monkey's River). This connecting farm road forms a semi-circular loop that joins the R407 near Klaarstroom with the northern end of Meiringspoort and is labelled as the P1721. With typical poort statistics, the road only ascends 89m over 4,66 km producing an easy average gradient of 1:54. The road is suitable for all vehicles and was receiving a major upgrade at the time of filming in May, 2015.
With a summit alltitude of 2001m ASL, this is one of only 19 passes in South Africa above 2000m. The road approximates the direction of the Kastrolnek pass, except slightly further north. It connects Wakkerstroom with the farming areas west of Dirkiesdorp. Think carefully before driving this pass, especially if poor weather is threatening and you are not in a 4WD vehicle.
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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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