The Naauwkloof Pass on the R62 close to Ladismith is much more of a poort than a true mountain pass. The 8,3 km long poort offers attractive scenery with 12 gentle bends and easy gradients to make this an enjoyable break along the R62, itself touted as the longest wine route in the world.
Towards the northern end of the poort, the Naauwkloof farm entrance can be seen on the right-hand side when travelling south. There's a valley about a quarter of the way through the poort, followed by an ascent to a false summit (516m) at the 4.5 km mark. From this midway summit the road descends continuously till the end of the poort marked by the crossing of the Stassensleegte River.
This scenic poort winds its way along the Brandrivier flood plain, mainly keeping on the western side. Like all poorts, this one too is subject to frequent flooding. The altitude variance along this poort is minor, making it a great poort to cycle. The R323 carries very little traffic, making this drive relaxing and enjoyable as the cuttings reveal the local geology as the road passes by a number of attractive Karoo farms.
The road has no paved safety shoulders and has 12 easy bends, corners and curves.
Kruippoort, which translates as 'Crawling Passage' probably relates to the slow speed of the original road. It's an easy tarred drive traversing the R62 to the south-west of Ladismith in the Western Cape and forms part of the R62 route. The road is wide and safe and only has two gentle bends, but once inside the poort the poort hems the road in amd provides a scenic, albeit short drive.
Most drivers are not even aware that this is an official poort, so if it's best to premark the coordinates into your GPS before setting off on your journey.
The poort has very gentle average gradients of 1:267 and follows a typical poort profile. There are one or two short sections which get as steep as 1:11, but they don't last long. The biggest danger in this poort is that many motorists ignore the barrier lines when they become impatient with a slower vehicle ahead. Other than that, the engineering work in the poort is good and the road displays no design flaws.
The Prinspoort is often confused with the Prinsrivier Pass, and it's easy to see why. Both passes are formed by the Prinsrivier, which is a tributary of Touwsrivier. It flows from north to south through the Witteberg and Anysberg mountains, where the Prinsrivier Dam and the Prinsrivier Pass are located. It then swings into the east for 11 km where it finds a path around Oshoek se Berg, before curving back into the south. It is at this second southerly bend that it has formed the Prinspoort, where it has carved a natural defile through the mountains, making it a suitable routing for a road. The pass is an easy, scenic drive of just under 6 km in length and connects the R62 tar road with the P315 and R323 further north.
The Wasbank Pass which translates into 'Washing Bank', is a short gravel pass on the R323/P315 road about 30 km south of Laingsburg. It is one of five passes and poorts on this very scenic road and traverses the Rooikoof farm via a small ravine. The pass ascends 75 vertical metres over 1,24 km producing an average gradient of 1:17 with the steepest section being at 1:8
Volstruisnek is a relatively minor pass located on the R323/P315 road south of Laingsburg in the Karoo and forms part of a series of passes and poorts on this fabulous Karoo back road, which is peppered with game sightings and exquisite mountain scenery. This is the smallest of the five passes and has no apparent dangers, providing speed limits are adhered to. The road is suitable for all vehicles.
This interesting gravel pass is located (as the name suggests) in the Klein Swartberg mountains about 40 km south of Laingsburg on the R323/P315 road. It is one of a series of passes and poorts in the area, which provide a fascinating range of options. The pass was built by Thomas Bain in 1880. Please read the detailed notes carefully as there is one very dangerous section on this pass you should be aware of.
This very old gravel pass, which was once a toll road in the late 1880's lies south-east of the Klein Swartberg Pass between Laingsburg in the north and Ladismith in the south. With an easy average gradient of 1:36 over 8,5 km the pass can be driven in any vehicle and offers pleasant kloof scenery with the Klein Swartberg mountain [1164,5m] dominating the views to the right. The highlight of the pass is the original dry stone walling which still supports the road. There is a high probability that this pass was built by Thomas Bain, who also built the nearby Klein Swartberg Pass in 1880.
The Witnekke Pass is a tarred pass located on the R323 route between Laingsburg in the north-west and Ladismith in the south-east. It forms one of four passes and poorts along the R323, making for a particularly pleasant drive. The others are the Seweweekspoort, Koueveld Pass and Rooinek Pass.
The Seweweeks Poort is probably the most beautiful 18 km stretch of gravel road anywhere in South Africa. With easy gradients, multiple river crossings, mind-boggling geology, camping and self catering accommodation all packed into an almost perfect micro-climate, this road is an absolute joy to drive or ride, as it twists and turns through every angle of the compass, as it follows the contorted bends of the river and falls entirely under the control of Cape Nature Conservation and more specifically the Swartberg and Towerkop Nature Reserves. It is also a certified Unesco World Heritage Site.
This poort is one of our Top 20 all time favourite roads. Add it to your bucket list!
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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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