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This is an unusual pass in many respects. It has no less than four false summits and displays an altitude variance of 273m over just under 10 km. Although the average gradient is a mild 1:36, there are some sections that are very steep at 1:5. It's located just north-west of Montagu to the north of the famous Koo Valley.

The pass is named after the old and historic Pietersfontein farm which lies at the end of the pass on the north-western side. On offer is a lovely drive through deep kloofs, juxtaposed with wide and sunny valleys smothered in fruit orchards and through all of this a small river provides life giving water to this small farming community.

The other odd feature of this pass is that it has very few bends, but watch out for loose gravel as well as slow moving farm vehicles and livestock on the road. If you drive a 4WD vehicle, it is possible to drive a complete loop and return to your starting point via the Patatsfontein Pass.

Published in The Western Cape

The pass is named after the farm in the middle of the traverse of the same name and is located roughly 45 km ESE of Grahamstown. It is also sometimes locally reffered to as the Lower Kaprivier Pass, but with the Kaprivier Pass itself being just 11 km further to the north-west, having such a similar name can only cause confusion.

The pass is virtually a twin of the Kaprivier Pass displaying similar statistics and traversing the same mountain and river valley. It is slightly longer at 4,6 km and contains 16 bends, corners and curves within that distance to produce an average gradient of 1:35, but don't be fooled by that number as there are some steep sections that get as steep as 1:6.

The pass runs along the east-west axis and if your'e driving it in that direction, you will be treated to lovely views over the Lower Kaprivier valley.

It's also well off the beaten track and carries very low traffic volumes, other than the odd farmer. The pass displays a typical inverted clasic profile starting at a high point, then dropping down to a central low point river crossing and rising up the other side.

Be aware that there are some very steep gradients, so light FWD vehicles might experience traction issues in wet weather. We recommend driving this pass as a circular loop with it's sister pass a little further to the north-west, the Kaprivier Pass, which will provide a fabvulous circuit of mixed scenery in tranquil and quiet surroundings.

Published in The Eastern Cape

This lovely pass packs a technical and scenic punch well above its category. It provides access over the Kaprivier from the lower altitude land in the south-west to the mountain ridge in the north-east.

Statistically its a moderate pass, but when the details are examined, it shows no less than 19 bends, corners and curves packed into 4,1 kms and lots of variety. It's also well off the beaten track and carries very low traffic volumes, other than the odd farmer. The pass displays a typical inverted clasic profile starting at a high point, then dropping down to a central low point river crossing and rising up the other side.

Be aware that there are some very steep gradients on the northern section, so light FWD vehicles might experience traction issues in wet weather. We recommend driving this pass as a circular loop with it's sister pass a little further to the east, called the Milton Pass or Lower Kaprivier Pass.

Published in The Eastern Cape

This relatively unknown pass is located high in the mountains about 15 km south-east of De Doorns. It's of above average length at 5,3 km and descends 338m producing an average gradient of 1:16 with the steepest parts reaching 1:7. It offers exceptional mountain scenery as well as four very sharp bends in excess of 100 degrees. The oddly named Dwars in die Weg translates roughly into 'Transversely across the Way', with reference to a stand-alone peak Dwarsberg [1025.4m] which blocks the view near the western foot of the pass.

The road leads to the Keerom Dam. (Turnaround Dam) which is aptly named as this is the end of the road and the route has to be retraced back to the R318. The road is quiet and thoroughly enjoyable to drive. Please read the section on public access carefully in the main body of text lower down, so that you understand exactly at which point the road changes status from public to private.

Cautionaries: Sharp bends, loose gravel, very tight bends, steep unguarded drop-offs.

Published in The Western Cape

Pella Pass does not have the same magical attraction as its sister pass, Charles’ Pass, which is just a few kilometres away to the east. It is much easier to traverse, in that a wide gravel road has been constructed, but the surface is riddled with severe corrugations which makes for an extremely uncomfortable ride. The route connects the little settlement of Pella with the water purification works on the banks of the Orange River, and, for the entire length of the pass, follows a pipeline which carries water from this plant to Pella and beyond. If you intend to traverse the circular route as described in the directions below, then a 4-wheel drive vehicle is essential, but if you do an out-and-back drive of just Pella Pass itself, then any high-clearance vehicle should be sufficient.

 

Published in The Northern Cape

This is a typical pass through a low point or neck. It climbs quickly from 493m in the east to reach the 545m high summit point after 0,8 km, then follows a longer descent into the west losing 122m of altitude. The road runs along the east-west axis and be very rough due to lack of maintenance and rainfall. This is also the last pass you will traverse before reaching the Baviaans Lodge and the southern start of the Baviaans-Kouga 4x4 Trail.

The term 'meide' is Afrikaans and refers to a female servant. In this context in the previous century, the term would not have been in the slightest way derogatory, but in modern South Africa the word is seldom used and is considered offensive.

Published in The Eastern Cape

This is quite a unique pass as it holds a number of extreme statistics under its rutted gravel surface. It's a short pass at only 2,5 km but packs a staggering 47 bends, corners and curves into that length, which works out at one bend every 53 metres! There is no other pass in South Africa to equal this!

Besides the large number of corners, this pass is also steep with an average gradient of 1:14 and some very steep sections at 1:5. The scenery is fantastic as the pass follows the path of a tributary of the Nooitgedacht River, but the cherry on top of all these impressive figures is the ghoulish history of this pass, where a murder took place about 200 years ago - and it's how the kloof got it's name. There are other passes in South Africa with similar names, like Moordenaarsnek (EC) and Moordenaarspoort (NC).

Published in The Eastern Cape

This interesting gravel pass if well above the national average in terms of length at 7,2 km and ascends 352 metres up the southern side of the Suuranysberg mountain to summit at 562m ASL. The pass offers excellent vistas over the Kromrivier valley, which it follows for most of it's length and the town of Kareedouw is also visible from the pass.

The pass is peppered with 54 bends, corners and curves of which three are semi-hairpins and a further four exceed 90 degrees radius. The condition of this road can vary greatly depending on when the last maintenance was done, as well as recent rainfall. Mostly it can be driven in any vehicle in fair weather conditions.

The Suuranysberg range is about 16 km in length and runs along the east-west axis, forming the southern watershed into the Kromrivier as well as the northern watershed into the Kouga River. The range has peaks which reach a maximum height in the 750m range. The pass is obviously named after the mountain which it ascends.

Published in The Eastern Cape

This lovely pass decends and ascends the beautiful Kouga River valley. It of average length at 4,6 km and has a substantial altitude drop of 181m producing an average gradient of 1:25, with the steepest sections measuring in at 1:8. The pass connects the farming areas to the north of Kareedouw with the R62 and offers exceptional views over the Kouga River gorge, regardless of which direction you drive it.

At the lowest point, where the river is crossed via a low level concrete causeway, there is a beautifully sited timber chalet right on the banks of the river (built on raised pylons) which is for hire and makes for an idyllic and quiet overnight spot.

The road carries very little traffic and is also the access road to both Moodenaarskloof Pass to the east as well as Meidenek to the west and after that the start of the Baviaans-Kouga 4x4 Trail. The road is suitable for all cars, but the condition can vary considerably depending on when last maintenance was performed as well as recent rainfall.

Published in The Eastern Cape

When travelling from Sutherland to Ceres via the Tankwa Karoo, this is the first of three small passes that have to be negotiated, with the other two being Thyshoogte and Jukhoogte. The pass is moderate in all respects with an altitude variance of 172m over 3,7 km producing an average gradient of 1:22, with the steepest sections being on the eastern side near the summit where things ramp up to 1:8.

Despite the moderate statistics, there are a few dangers on this pass. There is one sharp right hand bend leading into the ravine section which has some negative cross-flow and there are also some unguarded drop-offs on the left, which would cause serious damage if your vehicle left the road. During the week you are unlikely to come across any other vehicles on this road, but over weekends it could be a little busier, when dust and overtaking suddenly become major issues. It's best not to be in a hurry on this road and take the time to stop frequently and savour the timeless beauty of the Tankwa Karoo.

Published in The Northern Cape

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Mountain Passes South Africa

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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