The Piekenierskloof Pass has a long and interesting history dating back to the mid 1800's when Thomas Bain built the first pass through the neck in the Olifantsrivier Mountains, which separate the Swartland of the Cape from the mineral rich lands to the North. Bain named the pass after Sir George Grey, (hence Grey's Pass) but when the pass was rebuilt to a more comfortable gradient in 1958, the new pass reverted to it's original name - Piquenierskloof which was simplified to Piekenierskloof.
This short, gravel pass is located just north of the Biedouw Valley/Wupperthal turn-off on the R 364. Despite it's relatively low altitude, the views from the summit are well worth stopping for, as the plains of the Karoo stretch out in a seemingly endless horizon dotted with koppies and serried ranks of mountain ridges. In springtime, this is one of the best flower spotting routes. The pass is one of three that lie on the R364 between Clanwilliam (WC) and Nieuwoudtville / Calvinia (NC) - the other two being the Pakhuis Pass to the west and the Botterkloof Pass further to the east. Both are featured on this website.
The Blinkberg Pass (translated as 'Glittering or Shining Mountain') is a fairly long pass, found on the much revered gravel road (the P1482) through the southern Cederberg. The Grootrivierhoogte Pass and Blinkberg Pass run concurrently for a distance of almost 20km through magnificent and rugged scenery.
The pass has an unusual vertical profile in that it has two false summits located approximately at the 1/3 and 2/3 points. Each of these is marked by a short tarred section to cope with the very steep gradients. At 11,8 km this a long pass and is peppered with corners, but most of these are fairly easy. There are however, some really nasty ones, which can catch unsuspecting drivers by surprise.
The road traverses spectacular Cederberg mountain scenery and follows a narrow kloof for most of its length. Earmark this one if you've never driven it, as it's one of the nicest gravel roads in South Africa.
The Eselbank Pass, a section of which also appears on some maps as the Kerskop Pass, connects the Moravian mission village of Wupperthal with its sister village of Eselbank to the south in a high altitude part of the Cederberg. The pass is 10,5 km long and is very steep in places, but these sections have been concreted which assists greatly with traction. It has an average gradient of 1:21 but the steep sections get up to 1:5.
You can enjoy fabulous mountain scenery along this pass and along the summit plateau area there are beautiful, weathered sandstone formations and Rooibos tea plantations. Allow plenty of time to complete the route through to Matjiesrivier - at least 90 to 120 minutes.
Note: This route is not recommended for normal cars. Things can get a bit rough on this road. It's more of a track at times and especially so in bad weather. Having said that, I have seen some puny little front wheel drive cars successfully negotiating the entire route, but your car will be the worse for wear at the end. We have included four videos, which include an overview of the village as well as the waterfall.
The Kouberg Pass (translated 'Chew Mountain' or possibly an abbreviation to mean 'Cold Mountain') is a short, but steep pass on a minor gravel road which takes vehicles down to the Moravian settlement of Wupperthal in the central Cederberg area. The road is quite narrow in places and very steep on the concrete sections. A lower gear should be engaged to make use of engine compression to save on brakes overheating.
The Hoek-se-Berg Pass (translated as 'Corner's Mountain') is a short, but steep pass on a minor gravel road which takes vehicles down to the Biedouw Valley in the central Cederberg area - a well-known site for wild flowers in spring. On some maps - including the official government 1:50,000 maps, this pass is listed as Uitkyk Pass. There is another Uitkyk Pass near Algeria Forestry Station in the Southern Cederberg and so plenty of confusion has been caused. As a consequence this pass had a name change to Hoek se Berg Pass. To add even more confusion, the southern Uitkyk Pass is also known as the Cederberg Pass.
The Pakhuis Pass (meaning 'packing shed' in Afrikaans) begins just outside Clanwilliam, connecting it with the Karoo town of Calvinia and beyond. The pass's surveyor and builder, Thomas Bain, was an incredibly energetic man of many talents, which included art, rock paintings, geology, cartography and engineering. This is a major pass which has recently been fully tarred over its entire length and offers a wide variety of scenery, grave sites, weathered rock formations, picnic sites and some of the Cederberg's finest hiking trails.
The pass is suitable for all vehicles but do comply with the speed limits, especially along the northern switchback section, where the gradients are quite steep and the corners (although nicely radiused by the road builders), are quite sharp. The pass is in the Top 20 passes nationally in terms of its length (26,4 km) and has a big altitude gain of 824m. Most of the new road follows Thomas Bain's original lines.
The Kromrivier Pass is a short, steep pass incorporating 15 bends, corners and curves - two of which are in excess of 100 degrees. The pass connects the Cederberg Tourist Park or more originally, the Kromrivier farm with the main gravel road between Clanwilliam and Ceres in the Southern Cederberg. It also forms part of an escape route via the Truitjieskraal Road, when the main road via Matjiesrivier is in flood
The road is single width for some of its length, which makes overtaking impossible and oncoming traffic a problem. Should this happen, one of the vehicles will need to reverse back to a wider, safer place to allow the other vehicle to pass. Etiquette is that the ascending vehicle has right of way, but this is sometimes neither practical or safe. Use common sense and be courteous. The road can get quite busy on long weekends, but is otherwise very quiet.
The Winkelhaak Road is a 37 km gravel farm road which meanders through the Koue Bokkeveld north of Ceres between the many rivers, dams and lakes of this farming area, specialising in onions and potatoes. The scenery is richly diverse with the dominance of the rugged mountain-scape being omnipresent.
Grootrivierhoogte forms part of the exceptionally beautiful route through the Southern Cederberg, connecting farms like Kromrivier, Matjiesrivier, Nuwerus and Mount Ceder, with the plateau of the Koue Bokkeveld. The road is made up of two major passes - the other being the Blinkberg Pass. Both offer stunning mountain scenery in crisp mountain air. The passes are seriously steep in some places - as steep as 1:5 !!!
Grootrivierhoogte is one of the steepest along this route and light front wheel cars will struggle on the final section near the summit in wet conditions, but for the vast majority of the year, this pass is doable in any vehicle. Take time to stop at the summit and allow the mesmerising mountain views to captivate your soul. From the summit one can look to the south and see part of the Blinkberg Pass, whilst the northern view includes Nuwerus, and Cederberg Oasis.
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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