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.
This is a typical road that drives through a low point (neck) between two mountains or hills. With a length of just under 4 kms, this gravel road descends steeply with some of the gradients at 1:6 to drop 153 vertical metres from a summit altitude of 1870m. Views looking down towards the town of Volksrust are excellent. The pass connects the R543 with farms in the Vlakpoort area. The road is suitable for all vehicles, except in heavy rain or snow when 4WD would be much safer.
Kwaggasnek is a short and straightforward gravel pass which straddles the border between the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal near Volksrust. It would usually be driven in conjunction with Majubanek, a much bigger pass located to the north-east on the same route. The road is not in a particularly good condition, but can be traversed in any vehicle, provided that the weather allows. The pass is probably named after the now-extinct Quagga, which once roamed these hills in vast herds, but the name could also refer to the Burchell’s Zebra which is sometimes called a Kwagga in Afrikaans.
This is a substantial gravel pass of 8,8 km long that connects the N11 to the north of Laings Nek pass with the R34 near Memel and runs along the SW/NE axis. The pass climbs 266m to summit at 1848m and produces an average gradient of 1:33, but there are some very steep sections at 1:5. We issue the usual KZN gravel pass cautionary of "slippery when wet" as well as the occurrence of frequent mountain mists which can become extremely dangerous when visibility is reduced.
Schuinshoogte is a short gravel pass situated near Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, shaped like a back-to-front question mark when viewed from the south. It takes its name from a hillock on the northern side, which was the scene of a famous and decisive battle during the 1st Anglo-Boer War. The road is bumpy and rutted, but should not present too many problems for non-4x4 vehicles except in wet weather. The pass forms an access route from the R34 between Newcastle and Memel to the Schuinshoogte battlefield memorial site, which consists of numerous monuments and gravesites located on both sides of the road.
Koffiekloof Pass is one of those official but technically insignificant passes that you would barely notice unless you know exactly where it is, and is hardly worth going out of your way for unless you intend to tick the pass off a list. It is highly unlikely that coffee was ever grown here, so the name is probably derived from the likelihood that this location was used as a stop-over or break area during treks. The gravel road is in an excellent condition and can be driven in any vehicle, and few hazards other than the probability of farm animals in the road are likely to present themselves. The scenery is however lovely and its proximity to the Chelmsford Dam means you will probably see game and birdlife.
Mollshoogte is a long gravel road pass located in the north-western corner of the KwaZulu-Natal province, close to Volksrust and Charlestown. It is in the centre of a trio of passes which traverse the escarpment in this area, the other two being Lang’s Nek to the west and Barrowfield Pass to the east. With a height gain of nearly 400 metres and a length of almost 7 kilometres, this a substantial pass, but the road surface is good and there are no particularly sharp corners. It should not present any problems, except perhaps during or after heavy rains. Another official pass called Mollsnek is located very close to the summit, but as this is on private land, we have elected not to document this pass on our website.
Hattingshoogte is located on a minor gravel road, the P43, which connects Wakkerstroom in Mpumalanga with Utrecht in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The surname “Hattingh” is a common one in the area, so it is difficult to ascertain with any certainty as to which member of these clans the pass is named after. It is particularly scenic and visually appealing, offering splendid views over the rolling green hills and grasslands in the vicinity. The road is in a good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, although there could be some difficulty after heavy rain. This would apply in particular to the northern approach road, which involves a steep climb up towards the start from the tiny settlement of Groenvlei, as well as to a very steep section near the summit.
This gravel pass is fairly straightforward with no sharp corners and mostly easy gradients. It climbs 101 vertical metres over 3,2 km producing a gentle average gradient of 1:32, with the steepest section near the summit measuring a stiff 1:8. More significantly, the pass gives access to the memorial of the Battle of Bloedrivierpoort (1901). The road is suitable for all vehicles.
Van Tonder’s Pass is a gravel road pass located just to the west of the R33 between Dundee and Helpmekaar in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Details of the Van Tonder families that migrated to this area during the Great Trek are a little hazy, but it is most likely that the pass was named after Johannes Van Tonder (1788–1855), who owned the farm “Goedekeus”, located on the western extremity of the pass. The road is in a fairly good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, but this would depend on the prevailing weather conditions. There are some steep sections, and the pass could be decidedly slippery when wet!
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.
We are as passionate about maps as we are about mountain passes. A good map is a thing of beauty that can transport you into the mists of time or get your sense of adventure churning. It is a place to make discoveries about deserts and seas, mountains and lakes; of roads leading into places you have not been before; a place to pore over holiday destinations or weekend camping trips. A map is your window to the world.