We try to keep things positive at MPSA, but the Easter road death toll is one of the worst in our history. The authorities are blaming the No.1 cause on alcohol consumption, with the rest being of a lesser nature, but they have nontheless, mentioned a disregard for the rules of the road as being close to the top of the culprit list - add reckless overtaking, ignoring barrier lines, invalid drivers licenses, exceeding the speed limits and of course unroadworthy vehicles. Just as we think the nation is taking a step forward, it seems we take two backwards. To those of you who managed to return safely from your journeys, welcome home!
On to more pleasant things...... This week (which we rarely do), we're taking you off-road on a 4x4 route on a private game reserve in the Central Karoo. The owners graciously allowed us to traverse their land and film the pass leading to the mountain plateau. Cyber drive with us as we take you to a quiet place, where you can see the curvature of the earth and where the eagles soar the high ridges.....
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A short traverse of a natural gap between two Karoo koppies, known as Blounek - on the R381/P0058 about midway between the Molteno Pass in the south and the Roseberg Pass in the north. This is a relatively minor pass by modern standards and it involves only a single gentle right hand bend and a small gain in elevation of just 59m. This pass should not be confused with another Blounek Pass on the R63 between Williston and Carnarvon.
Located in the remote high mountain plateau north of Beaufort West and approximately midway between the Thomas Bain built Molteno and De Jager passes, the Trapvoet Pass winds its way steeply down a mountain and into a small canyon carved out by a river over the millenia. This road is long and rough and we don't recommend anyone attempting this one without a 4x4 with good ground clearance and low range. Part of the route crosses private property with locked farm gates. You will need to first obtain permission from the land owner. Contact details are posted lower down on this page.
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.
This short, but steep gravel pass lies on private property at the farm Tierfontein, but can be accessed by guests staying at Ko-Ka Tsara bush camp. This pass is for experienced offroad motorcyclists and 4x4 vehicles with low range. The pass, named after the almost extinct Bontebok (but now flourishing, thanks to the efforts of conservationists) takes one from the Gamka river valley to the top of the mountain and provides access from there via the high plateau to the eastern side of the Gamka Dam.
The Oukloof Pass is a basic gravel farm style road running through the Nuweveld Mountains on the North/South axis about 40 km SSE of Fraserburg in the Northern Cape. It's just under 9km in length and climbs 340m in altitude to summit at 1536m ASL. The average gradients are a comfortable 1:26 with the steepest bits being at 1:7 - The pass is subject to snow in winter and can be very dangerous during heavy rain as the pass makes use of a river course and has no bridges.
An easy gravel pass with gentle gradients and rugged scenery in the heart of the Karoo on the R381, which together with the historic Molteno Pass and the small Blounek Pass, forms a trio of passes on the R381/P0058 which connects Beaufort West in the south with Loxton and the Northern Cape to the north. Two river crossings and a narrow ravine make this an interesting drive. Cautionary: The second set of bends to the left are very dangerous, with no barriers and steep drop-offs. Add very tight corners, negative banking and loose gravel and this is a receipe for a rollover down into the ravine. We recommend a speed of 30 kph through this section.
Beaufort West and its environs sport several interesting passes. Just 10 km north of the Karoo town is the 15 km long Molteno Pass - a mix of tar and gravel that ascends or descends 647 vertical metres to summit on the high plateau at 1574m. The pass connects Beaufort West with Loxton some 110km to the north.
This is a scenic drive offering a variety of landscapes to gaze on, plus it gives access to a bush camp, the Gamka Dam and the Bontebok Pass. The road follows the eastern boundary of the Karoo National Park for most of its length. It is on route R381 and it's administrative number is P0058.
The Karoo has several dynamic passes and the De Jagers Pass is one of them. It's located on a good gravel road about 30km NNE of Beaufort West. Unless you're a local farmer, you'll have very little reason to be on this road. Of course, pass hunters don't care about these things, and this gravel pass will satisfy every cent spent on fuel, locating it. It's a farm road and leads only to other farms in the area, but it does offer many options to the adventurous traveller. Please note that our description covers an ascending route from south to north which is by far the easiest way to locate this pass, but our video was filmed in the opposite direction for maximum scenic value.
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.