The seaside town of Hermanus lies squashed into a narrow coastal plain with the Indian Ocean to the south and the Kleinriviersberge to the north. Running along the spine of this mountain range is a narrow road, partially tarred, known as Rotary Way and described officially as a 'scenic drive', which it most certainly is, but it also fully complies with the definition of a mountain pass. As the road is blocked off at its eastern end, it means one has to turn around and return the same way.
The road is 5,3 km long which makes it a 10,6 km drive in total. It climbs 188m producing an easy average gradient of 1:28, but the initial climb gets as steep as 1:15. The road is suitable for all vehicles, but it has no centre line and is narrow, so proceed with caution. The two view sites offer excellent views of Hermanus and the sweep of Walker Bay past the Kleinriviersvlei lagoon and on towards Gansbaai.
This rough gravel road is enjoyed by mountain bikers and adventure motor cyclists, as it is quite challenging in some sections with a variety of road conditions which can vary greatly depending on the time of year. It connects the summit area of the Hemel & Aarde Valley at the R320 with the Bot River estuary farming area, as well as with the Karwyderskraal farm on the mountain plateau. It also services the farms on the eastern side near the Hemel en Aarde valley. It offers locals a distinct shortcut for those wanting to avoid the congestion on the R43 to Hermanus and Onrus.
The pass is suitable for all vehicles, but this road can get very slippery when wet. It has recently received a substantial upgrade amd widening, especially along the western section. The special feature of this road is that it crosses the De Bos dam wall, which is also the only section of the pass that is tarred.
The Hemel en Aarde Pass is a tarred road connecting the coastal town of Hermanus with Caledon via the Hemel en Aarde (Heaven and Earth) Valley - well known for its world class wine estates. The pass is longer than the national average at 8,2 km and it descends 231m to produce an average gradient of a mild 1:35, but there is one specific secrtion where things get decidedly steep at 1:8.
The pass offers access to a number of tourist attractions and is very popular amongst the mountain biking set, so be particularly aware of coming across cylists on this road - especially over weekends and holidays. The scenery is varied and includes open heather and fynbos slopes near the summit to neatly cultivated vineyards along the southern section.
The road had no safety shoulders, so bear this in mind when overtaking cyclists, who must be given 1,5m clearance space by law.
Shaw's Mountain Pass is named after Shaw's Mountain over which it traverses on the R320 route between Caledon in the north and Hermanus in the south. The 6 km long pass descends 185m from a maximum altitude of 282m ASL providing sweeping views of the farming valleys to the south. It contains 15 bends, corners and curves of which only one exceeds 90 degrees.
The pass offers attractive scenery over one of the most beautiful valleys of the Overberg, where proteas, fynbos and wildflowers abound. The pass was completely realigned and rebuilt during 2017 and is perfectly safe for all vehicle types. Note that a lower than normal speed limit of 80 kph applies.
The Akkedisberg Pass translates from Afrikaans into Lizard Mountain Pass. It's an easy drive along this tarred coastal pass on the R326 links the small farming town of Riviersonderend with the quaint coastal hamlet of Stanford and the coastal road to Hermanus. The original gravel road dates back to 1776 and is amongst the very oldest passes in South Africa.
The pass had mild gradients and only 13 bends, corners and curves, none of which are particularly sharp or dangerous. It's a fairly long pass at 12,5 km and produces a gentle average gradient of only 1:86 with the steepest sections getting up to 1:18. The views are lovely with the tall mountains keeping watch over the green valley on the right. There is at least one excellent wine estate that leads off the pass.
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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