This is a short, but very scenic gravel road that follows the poort of a small river. The exposed and almost vertical rocks on the southern side of the kloof are dramatic and some of the rock formations are well worth exploring. The road crosses the (usually dry) riverbed four times in rapid succession. The pass is just under 2 km in length and only has one steep section near the eastern end, where the gradients are at 1:6.
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 Muiskraal Pass is named after the farm of the same name near the northern foot of the pass. The pass is basically the northern descent of the Garcia Pass onto the Little Karoo plateau and forms one long, continuous pass which connects Riversdale in the South with Ladismith in the North. It is a modern, well engineered pass with no obvious safety issues. We filmed the Muiskraal Pass ascending from north to south.
This well maintained gravel road pass lies on the northern side of the Swartberg Mountains close to the Seweweeks Poort. It connects the Seweweeks Poort area and farms eastwards and up to the Gamkapoort Dam with Laingsburg. The 6 km long pass is subject to winter snowfalls with a summit altitude of 1202m ASL and an altitude variance of 341m, producing an average gradient of 1:18, with the steepest parts being at 1:8. Two waterfalls on the Swartberg side of the pass makes this a great detour off the busier R62 route.
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!
The Rooinek Pass is located approximately 17 km due South of Laingsburg in the Western Cape. The pass is fairly short at 3,15 km. and only gains/loses 73 meters of altitude, giving rise to an average gradient of 1:43. It is statistically a safe pass and has it's steepest gradient at 1:9.
The 11,7 km long Garcia's Pass has a long and winding history predating 1860. It connects the farming town of Riversdale on the coastal plateau, with the inland Karoo town of Ladismith. The effective combination of Garcia's Pass and its sister-pass, the Tradouw Pass, did much to extend trade into the interior during the pioneering days of the 1820 Settlers.
This lesser known, Southern Cape pass is often ignored in favour of the much more famous Tradouw Pass 30 km to the west, between Suurbraak and Barrydale. It is a beautiful drive at any time of year - particularly the upper-plateau section where the road winds gently between the hills, mimicking the course of the river.
It's a long pass at 11,6 km and has an altitude variance of 397m with mostly easy gradients, but the southern side closer to Riversdale can get a bit steep at 1:10. The road is maintained to a high standard and has a good safety record. It is suitable for all vehicles.
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.