This short, rough gravel road winds its way up the slopes of the Goukamma River Valley just to the north of the N2 between Knysna and Sedgefield. The pass offers great views over the Ganzvlei farm, after which it is named, where it nestles on the green banks of the Goukamma River. The railway line (now defunct) lies between this pass and the N2. The road is primarily used by loggers living in the mountains and it's not suited to sedan vehicles, but any vehicle with good ground clearance will manage, although we recommend a 4WD vehicle is being optimal.
This pass is short, steep and dangerous. It forms a fabulous section on the N2 in the Garden Route between Sedgefield and Knysna and brings the N2 lower in altitude by 166 vertical metres to end at the crossing of the Knysna River at 1m ASL. The views are of thickly forested hillsides with excellent views of the Knysna Lagoon once on the road bridge. The pass is named after the railway station of the same name, hidden amongst the trees just to the south of the summit. The pass should be read/viewed in conjunction with the Goukamma Pass which ends where this pass starts.
The Goukamma Pass traverses the lovely green valley fed by the perennial Goukamma River with the Ganzvlei farm taking centre stage in this fertile valley. The railway line overpasses the road at the river and this is followed by a long, steep ascent up the eastern side of the valley with gradients up to 1:11. The scenery is fabulous as this is in the very heart of the Garden Route with forest and heather clad green hills topped off with tall pine forests and onyx coloured rivers.
This 9 km tarred road connects the seaside village of Brenton-on-Sea with the N2 at the main bridge over the Knysna Lagoon. The road is in good condition and offers a varienty of enchanting Garden Route views which include the eastern perspective of the lagoon from high above Belvidere Estate and a summit view westwards over Buffalo Bay (Buffelsbaai) with its 7 km long beach sweeping back away from Brenton on Sea towards Walker Point. The pass is suitable for all vehicles and presents few dangers providing speed limits and barrier lines are adhered to.
The Old Cape Road is located just to the north of Knysna and traverses the line of hills above the town through indigenous as well as pine and bluegum plantations. The 6.5 km long road is generally on a level gradient, with the exception of the western ascent, which is very steep. Although the average gradients are a comfortable 1:21, the climb up past Simola Golf Estate is as steep as 1:5
The Prince Alfred's Pass on the R339 gravel road between Knysna and Uniondale is probably Thomas Bain's greatest work. Not only was this an extremely long pass, but it also presented almost every possible technical obstacle to the pass-builders. Due to the length of the pass, we have filmed this pass in a 14 part series, which includes a separate 2 part video set covering the detour up to the Spitskop viewsite. At 68,5 km it is the longest (publicly accessible) mountain pass in South Africa by a considerable margin, as well as being the second oldest unaltered pass still in use. The video footage covers the entire pass starting at Avontuur and ending at the at the junction with the N2 just east of Knysna.
We recommend watching the series of videos sequentially to gain a complete picture of all this wonderful pass has to offer. All 14 videos follow below and are placed in the correct sequence amongst the relevant text section. The pass is Thomas Bain's Opus Magnum - a work of monumental proportions carried out with rudimentary equipment and convict labour, but with science, ingenuity and Bain's "can do" attitude making it all possible. Bain constructed 29 passes mainly in the Cape colony in his lifetime. This pass epitomises all of his unique touches, but especially his exceptional dry walling method of construction.
Allow 1 hour and 15 minutes to watch the full video set and longer if you also want to study the text. Once digested you will be well equipped to deal with the rigours of the pass and the knowledge gained will greatly enhance your journey.
This beautiful drive through the lush indigenous forests of the mountains north of Knysna, takes about an hour, as it winds its way between Diepwalle in the east Gouna in the west. This is one of the best publicly accessible roads in deep indigenous forests where one doesn't require to be in a 4WD vehicle. The road is technically a pass only over about 20% of it's length, but for purposes of documenting it made sense the film the entire route. The summit is reached a few kilometres before the western end and provides open views of the forest draped mountains. None of the side jeep tracks may be driven, walked or cycled whether gated or not, as all of them belong to state or private forestry. Comply with all signage and obey the speed limits. The road is very popular with local mountain bikers. Please be aware of their possible presence on the blind corners.
The Gouna Pass is a gravel road connecting the Gouna Forestry village in the north with the Old Cape Road close to the Simola Golf Estate. It is a spectacular drive through dense indigenous forests and amber, tumbling rivers. It is also sometimes confusingly listed as the Kom se Pad pass as this is the access road from the west to the magnificent forest drive of the same name. Despite the easy numbers of the average gradient at 1;30, many parts of this pass, especially on the eastern side of the Gouna river valley, range between 1:5 and 1:8. Some of these steeper sections have been concreted to aid traction. The Gouna Pass leads to the Gouna Forestry Station and also joins Kom se Pad traverse at that point, allowing a complete circular drive starting and ending in Knysna.
The mysteriously named Phantom Pass is the final pass on the Garden Route's string of "Seven Passes" between George and Knysna. The 7,4 km of narrow, gravel road descends to the famously picturesque Knysna River Lagoon, and finds its end-point at the N2. The other six passes are listed at the bottom of this page for easy reference and access.
Lying 6th in the string of 'Seven Passes' between George and Knysna, the narrow, gravel Homtini Pass covers 5 km of wonderfully scenic driving, descending to the river from which it takes its name, and ascends up the eastern side to terminate at the Rheenendal Timber Mill. The name is apparently of Khoi origin and means either "mountain honey" or "difficult passage". This pass is also sometimes known as the Goukamma River Pass.
This is the biggest of the passes at 5 km and presents an altitude variance of 153m. You will be kept busy as the driver, as there are 45 bends, corners and curves of which there are 3 corners greater than 120 degrees and i extremely sharp hairpin.
Of the passes on the 7 Passes Road that Thomas Bain built, this was the pass that presented him with the most difficult technical challenges and might well have been the point where his frustration levels boiled over which led to the now famous argument with his brother in law, Adam de Smidt, when the pair disagreed vehemently about the routing of the 7 Passes Road. The family argument eventually led to a 'no speak' scenario for the rest of their living years.
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.