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!
“Noustrop” literally translates into English as “narrow strap”, but the term is most often used colloquially in Afrikaans as a word meaning “to struggle”. This is not surprising, as this difficult pass must have presented a formidable obstacle to the Voortrekkers when they first arrived here, similar to the nearby Helpmekaar Pass (“Help Each Other Pass”). The signs which bookend this pass on either end spell the name as “Knostrope Pass”, which is also the name of a farm in the vicinity. The gravelled road is in a fairly good condition, but there are sections which could present a problem in wet weather. It is located close to the Anglo-Zulu War battlefields of Rorke’s Drift, Fugitive’s Drift and Isandlwana.
This short, steep and scenic pass offers outstanding views with weathered rocks, waterfalls, proteas and mountain fynbos in a pristine and virtually untouched part of the Western Cape in it's far northern sector. There are two ways to access the pass. The recommended route is to drive the Gifberg Pass first from Vanrhynsdorp and descend via this (Ouberg) pass providing a superb 55km loop ending back in Vanrhynsdorp. Allow two and a half hours.
This little pass is not for the feint hearted. The maximum gradient is 1:3 which means low range gear ratios are essential. This pass has claimed the 10th steepest pass statistic in South Africa with an average gradient of 1:9,1 It is unusual in that it only starts at the summit of the Koebee Pass, itself quite a spectacular and steep pass. It climbs up to the mountain plateau via a single hairpin, at which point some rudimentary concrete has been laid to aid with traction. The road services a single rooibos farm at the summit. Views from the top are superb with the thin ribbon of road of the Koebee Pass disappearing to the right with the Knersvlakte framed by a ring of peaks in the far distance.
Note: It has been reported that the gate at the start of the pass is sometimes locked, in which case there will be no access. Make allowance for this in your planning.
The Bottelnek Pass is a very steep, gravel pass in a remote part of the Eastern Cape roughly 25 km north of Elliot (as the crow flies). The 5,1 km long pass has an altitude variance of 193 metres to summit at 2204m ASL producing an average gradient of 1:26 with the steepest sections being at 1:5. In wet weather non 4WD vehicles will have traction issues. It snows regularly on this pass during winter and the usual snow-driving cautionaries apply. Although this pass can be driven in a normal sedan, we would rather recommend a high clearance vehicle and definitely a 4x4 in rainy or muddy conditions.
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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