Fort Klapperkop is one of four forts that were built near Pretoria at the end of the 19th century, just before the outbreak of the 2nd Anglo-Boer War. It is named after the hill upon which it is situated, which in turn derived its name from the Afrikaans word for Strychnos pungens, a tree which grows natively on the hills in the area. At just 2.2 km long and with a height gain of only 100 metres, this is a minor pass, but the spectacular views over the city of Pretoria and the beautifully preserved fort at the summit make the small effort to get there more than worthwhile.
Kingo Hills Pass is situated just off the R67, about halfway between Grahamstown and Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape. Also known as Douglas Heights and (incorrectly) King Hills Pass, it is named after Kingo Hill, the summit (581 metres ASL) of which is located just north of the pass summit coordinates. The road is badly maintained, with major ruts and corrugations, and it is not recommended that you drive this pass in a normal car, although a four-wheel drive vehicle would not be required except in wet weather.
This attractive and well-known little pass is situated in the heart of the leafy northern suburbs of Pretoria, appearing as a welcome surprise to those not familiar with the area. The pass is very steep at an average gradient of 1:8, causing some vehicles to labour heavily as they make their way up the pass in the rarefied Highveld air. This is also true for the runners which take part in the Tom Jenkins Challenge, an annual event which features the pass and which finishes at the nearby Union Buildings.
The Slagtersnek (or Butcher's Neck) is an easy gravel road that descends very gently from a natural neck between the two prominant mountains north-east of Cookhouse in the Eastern Cape. The road first crosses the Great Fish River near the start, then approximates the river's course along it's western bank at a higher contour, in a south westerly direction, where it terminates after 3 km at the crossing of a small stream. The pass is insignificant in terms of statistics, but it has a major historical connection - the Slagtersnek Rebellion, which was the major instigator of the Great Trek.
“Die Noute” translates directly into English as “The Narrows”, and this pass is probably named as such because it climbs up the mountains through a narrow kloof. But the term is often used idiomatically in Afrikaans, as in “as jy in die noute beland” which loosely translates to “if you have to tighten your belt”, so it could also refer to hardship and trouble. The pass is just 1.1 kms long and has a height difference of only 36 metres, but it traverses neatly through dense riverine forest, and in some ways is briefly reminiscent of the 7 Passes road between Knysna and George.
This short suburban pass is one of three that connects the Johannesburg CBD with the suburbs to the north, over the low rocky ridge that runs along the east-west axis. Stewart Drive connects the suburbs of Yeoville and Bellevue East with Bertrams and Judith's Paarl. Those older suburbs of Johannesburg have experienced a great surge of urban decay and today are considered dangerous, high-crime areas. Stewart Drive itself has earned the nickname of 'Snake Way' because of the high levels of muggings, attacks and even murders, that take place in the bushes along this little pass. Walking alone here can be life threatening. The nickname of 'Snake Way' is more likely due the serpentine like shape of the road. Either way, the nickname is appropriate.
This short suburban pass dates back to Johannesburg's early pioneering gold rush days and is one of only a handful of official passes in South Africa that are shorter than 1 km. Within that 900m of distance you will experience gradients as steep as 1:7, a full hairpin pin and many very old dressed stone walls on either side of the road. It connects Upper Houghton with Houghton. The low, rocky ridge that separates downtown Johannesburg from the northern suburbs is called Linksfield Ridge and this little pass is one of three that were first built to give residents of a rapidly expanding city, access to new places to live to the north. The other two are Stewarts Drive and Sylvia's Pass. The ridges cutting through Yeoville and Observatory/Linksfield are a natural barrier between the northern and southern areas of Johannesburg. These ridges were first populated in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
This week we bring you an interesting tale of a wild town that once existed deep in the mountains - of fortunes and misfortunes - of shipwrecks and a city that failed spectacularly right here in South Africa.
Bringing this story to life came from investigating a pass submitted by one of our stalwart supporters from Johannesburg - Mr. Mike Leicester - who told us about a remote gravel track up the mountains in Mpumalanga, in close proximity to the richest gold mine in the world (Sheba) and only attainable in a high clearance, low-range 4x4.
There at the top of the mountain, lie the ruins of Eureka City. The sinking of the Drummond Castle off Ushant in France inextricably links itself to the lost city of Eureka.
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Lombardskop Nek is an easy tarred traverse along the east/west axis just outside Ladysmith in KZN with a minor change in altitude of just 53m. The road routes between a series of peaks and hills which have great historical value and in this instance the peak called Lombardskop takes us back to the Battle of Lombardskop in 1899. We spend most of our research into the history of the Anglo-Boer war, rather than the technical side of this very easy drive.
This historical pass was the first road to be forged into the Roodezand valley (Now called the Tulbagh valley). It starts at the Oudekloof farmstead and rises at a very steep gradient of 1:4 up the eastern slopes of the Obiqua mountain to summit at 382m. From there the road turns into the north-west and descends the western slopes of the mountain at a more gentle gradient to terminate near the canal close to the new wind farm between Gouda and Saron. This pass is not accessible by the general public, except under certain circumstances.
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.