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Take a 23 km drive along the rim of South Africa's most spectacular canyon - The Blyderivierspoort or nowadays known as the Molatse Canyon - and marvel at the scenic wonders the poort has on offer - like the Three Rondavels, God's Window, the Pinnacle and Bourke's Luck Potholes. The road (R532) connects the northern towns accessible from the R36 (Hoedspruit, Burgersfort and Orighstad) with the southern towns of Graskop and Sabie. There is a significant altitude gain of 480 vertical metres, but due to the length of the pass, the average gradient is a mild 1:47. The steepest gradient you will experience is on the eastern sector, where it gets to 1:10.

This is an unusual pass/poort in many respects. Firstly it does not in any way resemble the normal pattern of a road through a poort, where the incising river is always in close proximity. In this case the road follows to the southern rim of the canyon and for most of the drive the true beauty of the canyon remains unseen. Therefore it's important to stop wherever you can and explore the views on foot.

Secondly the vertical profle is much more of a pass than a poort with a large altitude gain, but there are 5 separate summit points, progressively getting higher from west to east. The road has 44 bends, corners and curves of which 6 exceed 90 degrees radius, but none of them are significantly sharp. If you follow the speed limits, it should be a perfectly safe drive. Be aware that this is a densely populated area, so you have the erratic behaviour of local drivers (some fast, some very slow), as well as tourist traffic, which can be equally erratic. There is also the chance of finding livestock on the road and mountain mists with the associated reduced visibility is also common along this road.

Published in Mpumalanga

Lugogoda Pass is a short but fairly steep little pass located near White River in the beautiful province of Mpumalanga, close to the western border of the Kruger National Park. It climbs out of the Legogote valley on the northern side, with some stunning granite koppies very prominent in the immediate area. The tarred road is generally-speaking in a good condition, and although a few potholes and cracks have started to appear, it does have wide shoulders and a double-lane section on the steepest part of the climb. The R538 was constructed to service the large townships which stretch all of the way from Hazyview to the northern start point of the pass, and an approach from this direction involves a slow and cumbersome drive through this mostly built-up area. The biggest hazards are the local drivers, who tend to drive either too slowly or too fast, but watch out for pedestrians and animals as well.

 

Published in Mpumalanga

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.

Published in The Western Cape

The Prinsrivier Pass should not be confused with the Prinsrivierpoort, which lies a few kms fiurther to the south east, on the same river. It's an unofficial pass and is technically a mixture between a pass and a poort. Whatever you decide to call it, you can enjoy a beautiful traverse of the Prinsrivier Valley with its green pastures. There are some very tight corners, narrow bridges and fairly steep gradients to keep the route interesting with fabulous views of big mountains on either side of the road. You can also pay a visit to the Prinsrivier Dam, with its crystal clear mountain waters.

Published in The Western Cape

This unofficial gravel pass lies to the south of the Anysberg mountains along the course of the Touwsrivier where the Sewefontein farmlands form a ribbon of green pastures along the banks of the river. The pass descends into the valley from the west, then crosses the river and follows the northern bank for some distance before ascending up the eastern side. It's a fairly easy pass in terms of road surface and gradients, but there are a few dangers to be aware of.

Published in The Western Cape

This is the final of a trio of passes and poorts on the P1721 route when travelling from west to east. It follows the course of the Bloupunt river and its tributary as it heads into an ever steepening poort of twisted and contorted rock formations to terminate at the northern end of Meiringspoort. It's downhill all the way for the 3,29 km length of the poort with an easy average gradient of 1:29. There are a few cattle grids on the route and one farm gate which must be closed after passing through.

Published in The Western Cape

The name of this pass translates from Afrikaans as “Help Each Other Pass”, and originates from the period of the Voortrekkers, when these hardy people had to labour their way up and down this formidable obstacle with their wagons using a double span of oxen. The pass is located on the tarred R33 between Dundee and Pomeroy. The road is in a terrible condition, with a multitude of potholes and even a couple of places where the tar has been removed altogether. There is some evidence that repairs are in progress, but as at the time of filming, it would appear that the completion of this project is still going to take a while. Avoid driving this pass at night if possible.

 

Published in KwaZulu-Natal

This fairly long, but easy gravel pass is located south of the Breede River in the Scherpenheuwel area and provides an unusual connection between the riverside road, which is interrupted by a nose in the mountain, making the continuation of the road alongside the river impractical. It offers an alternative routing to the R60 as it follows the southern side of the Breede River. The pass heads inland towards a mountain called Scheepershoogte, after which the pass takes its name. The pass is also sometimes known as the Gannaberg Pass. The scenery is lovely at any time of year, but it's best in spring time.

Published in The Western Cape

The Dassieshoek Pass is a gravel road just north of Robertson that connects the town with the Dassieshoek Nature Reserve, which nestles in the foothills of the Langeberg mountains. The pass is gravel and despite some extremely sharp corners, has relatively easy gradients and it can be driven in a normal sedan vehicle. The road is a dead–end. This is not an official pass, but qualifies to be listed in terms of our definition.

Published in The Western Cape

The Klipspringer Pass is located within the boundaries of the Karoo National Park a few kilometres outside Beaufort west. The pass is tarred and in excellent condition, providing sweeping views over the rugged landscape and the mini canyon known as Rooiwalle. It is an extension of the main road through the park and is suitable for all vehicles. The pass is obviously only accessible to paying visitors.

The pass is 5,8 km long and has an altitude variance of 264m, producing an average gradient of 1:22 with the steepest parts being at 1:6. It has a summit altitude of 1170m ASL.

Published in The Western Cape

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Mountain Passes South Africa

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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