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.
This is one of those official passes that barely resembles the normal characteristics of a true mountain pass. It is little more than an easy gravel road along a prominent ridge to the south west of Riversdale.
It is 4.3 km long and takes just 4 minutes to drive with a total altiutde variance of 90 metres. The road has very few dangers with perhaps the biggest being the speed at which the local farmers drive.
However the nearby town of Riversdale is full of history and points of interest. This flourishing farming town is the epicentre for farmers along the coastal hinterland between Mossel Bay and Swellendam.
This short gravel pass comes as something of a surprise after the long, flat coastal plains between Riversdale and the coastal town resort of Jongensfontein. It's about 23 km due south of Riversdale on a minor gravel road, the P1523. It's of average length at 4,7 km and displays an altitude variance of 125m, with the steepest parts near the summit getting as steep as 1:7. There are some dangerous corners on this pass with negative banking. It was being rebuilt on the day of filming and many of the dangers have now been re-engineered to make for a safer traverse.
This relatively short pass lies on the N2 between Riversdale and Albertinia and forms the eastern half of the twin Riversdale passes - the western one being the Goukou River Pass. The pass has an altitude variance of a mild 62 metres, but the the climb out on the eastern side is long and steep with a gradient of 1:11. This is a favourite spot for local traffic authorities to do speed checking, so watch the speed limit signs carefully or be prepared to cough up.
This 6,8 km long pass descends from Riversdale Heights adjacent to the Werner Frehse Nature Reserve, at a fairly steep gradient to cross the Goukou River at the 3 km point, having descended 143 vertical metres. It rises back up the eastern side to end at an altitude of 157m ASL. This pass and the one following it immediately where this one ends - the Soetmelksrivier Pass have been the scene of several serious and fatal accidents over the years. The road has been widened and the corners improved to assist with the safety of the road. Speed monitoring regularly takes place, so it's best to comply strictly with the speed limits.
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.
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.
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