This is a serious off-road pass that involves a bridgeless river crossing, long sections of stepped rock inclines, sharp corners, razor sharp tyre slicing rocks, loose stones, steep gradients and immense views over the Doring River valley. It is only possible in a high clearance 4x4 with low range or for motorcycle riders, a lightweight bike will also do the trick. This road is not recommended for inexperienced drivers/riders. The pass straddles the border of the Western and Northern Cape and forms part of the R2266 gravel road that connects the Biedouw Valley with the R355 south of Calvinia.
This is an easy gravel road drive with small gains/losses in altitude. Technically it does not resemble a mountain pass at all and is merely a pretty drive along the northern bank of the Biedouw River and involves some sharp turns and a minor change in altitude. What it lacks in statistics, it certainly makes up for in scenic beauty as the Biedouw River Valley is one of those tranquil, off the beaten track places that ends in a dead end at the head of the valley for most of the year, as the river crossing towards the end is too deep to cross. It's a place of steep mountains, crystal clear streams, stunning displays of spring flowers and old farm dwellings.
Monantsa Pass connects the eastern Free State in South Africa with the Kingdom of Lesotho over the steep escarpment which separates the two countries. It is unusual in that, although the entire pass is located within the borders of South Africa, a border post must be negotiated to complete the route. Until fairly recently (2018) this was a gravelled road, but the authorities have now finished a project to pave the whole pass. Unfortunately, they have also inserted 18 large speed humps along the road, each of which serves the double purpose of slowing down traffic and diverting water runoff. It somewhat spoils what would otherwise be a beautifully scenic drive, as the height and width of these obstacles require you to slow down to almost a complete stop. All of the speed humps are on the northern half of the pass, leading up to the border post.
The pass can be completed in any vehicle (except perhaps in snowy conditions), but if you wish to extend your journey into Lesotho, a 4x4 is strongly recommended. Many of the local inhabitants use non-4WD vehicles, but most normal cars are not designed to handle without some damage the bad gravel roads and numerous river crossings that are common in this northern part of the country.
NB: To complete this pass in its entirety, you will need to have a valid passport for you and each of your passengers. Although the security checks are fairly relaxed at the border post, the officials will not let you pass through without it. If you only wish to complete the northern half of the pass up to the border post, a passport will not be required, but this would be a pity, as the best part of the pass lies beyond the post itself on the descent leading up to the Lesotho border.
An easy and straightforward gravel road flanked by big Free State mountains with sublime views. The road connects the important railway station called Slabberts (where there are large grain silos) with Bethlehem, some 30 km to the north. At 3,7 km the pass is of average length and has an easy average gradient of 1:37, but the final climb up to the nek is quite steep at 1:7. The road is mainly used by farming vehicles.
This relatively unknown poort is one of several which follow the north/south course of rivers through the Witwatersberge. It is located 12 km to the south-west of the Hartbeespoort Dam. The drive is generally over easy gradients, but there are several fairly sharp corners and one short, steep climb of 200m in length. The road offers lovely views over the small valley with the river below the road and to the east. This is a gravel road and is generally maintained to a reasonable standard.
The name of this pass is no doubt a tongue-in-cheek reference to the famous Khyber Pass which connects Afghanistan and Pakistan in Central Asia. The pass descends from the upper ridges of the mountains near Curry’s Post down into the Karkloof Valley, and is located on a public road designated as the D293. As it is used primarily for logging operations, the condition of the road can vary greatly, especially after heavy rain. Under normal circumstances, the pass can be traversed in any vehicle, but it would be wise to check with the locals before attempting this route. Avoid it completely in wet weather.
This gravel pass lies off the R355 between Middelburg and Burgersfort and provides an easy east-west link for local farming communities. The pass can be devided into two halves with the western 4 km being very easy and then the Wapdskloof proper is ascended for the first 3,7 km providing good scenery and some steep gradients, where the driving is more challenging. The pass can be driven in almost any vehicle, but like all gravel roads, conditions can deteriorate very quickly in bad weather.
A tricky, high-altitude gravel pass a few kilometres north-east of Dullstroom with lots of stones, deep ruts and steep inclines. It offers lovely scenery and challenging driving, with the road reaching a maximum altitude of 2102m ASL. At 12,5 km it's much longer than the national average and although the average gradient is a pleasant 1:28 the steepest section occurs at the 6 km mark and it has gradients as steep as 1:6. If it's raining, take extra precautions here and moderate your speed to suit the conditions. The road is not suitable for vehicles with low clearance and even 4x4's will have issues here in wet weather. We issue a cautionary for bikers.
This poort runs along the north-south axis through the mountains approximately halfway between Willowmore and Steytlerville. It's gravel and it's rough and we dont recommend this road for non 4WD vehicles or vehicles with low ground clearance. The 4,38 km long poort gains only 95m in altiitude, producing an easy average gradient of 1:46. This part of the Eastern Cape offers some of the best gravel roads in South Africa for the adventure traveller.
This is a short, gravel pass that dives over a neck adjacent to the Adolphuspoort which has been formed by the Kariega River. It's located 42 km north-west of Uitenhage just to the north of the Groot Winterhoek mountains. It's a short pass of only 2 km with a modest altitude gain of 67m, but the northern descent does have some steeper gradients at 1:7. The pass can be driven in any vehicle except in very wet weather.
Exercise caution over the unbridged drifts, which can be dangerous during heavy rain conditions and display fairly sharp entry and exit angles. This part of the Eastern Cape has a high prevalence of game farms. This poort has game fencing on either side of the road and for the casual traveler, there's a good chance of spotting game along this route.
Our research was unable to establish who the Adolphus was, after whom the poort was named.
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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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