This old pass which dates back to 1880 is exceptionally well designed with fairly easy gradients. It has been realigned and changed over the last 120 years and has the stamp of Mr. T.W.Bain on the first map plot. At 6,6 km it's not that long, but due to the slow speeds necessary, it takes a fair bit of time to complete the pass. Part of the allure of driving this pass, is the not inconsiderable challenge of navigating your way back to any main road from the foot of the pass. The pass displays a substantial altitude variance of 480m and produces a stiff average gradient of 1:14
Whilst a 4x4 is not necessary to drive the pass, we strongly suggest a vehicle with good ground clearance, otherwise your vehicle will be likely to sustain some damage. Due to the complexity of finding a way out through the plains at the bottom of the pass, we suggest that this pass only be driven in the descending mode.
If you're a gravel pass fan, then put this one on your bucket list. It's for the purist.
This very minor road rises only 49m to clear a wide neck amongst the vast plains of Namaqualand about 25 km north-east of Nuwerus (on the N7) as the crow flies. It is one of the most northerly official passes in the Western Cape. The word 'poort' is normally associated with a road following the path carved out by a river, so Vetpoort is inappropriately named and should rather have been called Vetnek. Only die-hard pass-chasers will hunt this one down. It's difficult to find (especially from the south-eastern side) and has many farm gates to open and close in the process of getting there. For those that do take the trouble to drive this 'pass' you will be rewarded with a remarkable sense of peace and solitude as it is truly in the middle of nowhere.
This rough, steep gravel pass lies on the eastern edge of the Knersvlakte and connects a few remote farms along the Klein-Koebee River Valley with the R27 and the towns of Vanrhynsdorp and Nieuwoudtville. It should not be confused with the Koebee Pass, which lies 7 kilometres to the south. The pass is not suitable for normal cars, but a commercial vehicle ("bakkie"} with reasonable gound clearance will manage it in dry weather. The average gradient is a stiff 1:9 with the steeper parts being at 1:4. Most of the pass will be driven in 1st and 2nd gear. The road is a dead-end, which makes this one more suitable to die hard gravel pass fans.
We offer three videos on this great pass:
2. Descent westwards back to the start (Knersvlakte)
3. Descent eastwards into the Klein Koebee valley
The Koebee Pass is gravel, rough, steep and spectacular. Most of the ascent will be driven in 1st and 2nd gear. You don't need a 4WD vehicle to complete the pass, but it is an advantage. Ground clearance can be an issue with cars that are low slung. The pass rises up from the famous Knersvlakte and descends to the Koebee River valley where it splits into two directions, both ending in dead-ends at farms along the Koebee River. The scenery is quite beautiful for those who think this northern part of the Western Cape is a barren wasteland. The pass lies very close to the border between the Western and Northern Cape near the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve.
This beautiful tarred pass forms part of the R27 between Vanrhynsdorp and Nieuwoudtville and was originally built and designed by Thomas Bain. It is just under 9 km in length and climbs 595m to summit at 825m ASL, producing an average gradient of 1:15 with the steepest sections being at l:12. This is a well engineered pass with a good safety record providing you stick to the speed limits. This is amongst the top 10 passes of the Northern Cape and is a must drive offering grand views, tight chicane style corners and lots of variety. The pass is named after Petrus Benjamin Van Rhyn - a clergyman, politician and member of parliament in the old mission settlement of Troe-Troe. The town's name was changed in 1881 to Vanrhynsdorp.
The Gifberg (Poison Mountain) Pass is a challenging gravel pass (with two short tarred sections over the steepest parts) that ascends the Matsikamma mountain and connects the mountain top farms of the Gifberg with Vanrhynsdorp about 20 km to the north. The pass offers outstanding views, hiking trails, San rock-art, wildflowers, rockpools and waterfalls. It is the source of the Troe-Troe river which flows northwards through Vanrhynsdorp. The pass was originally built in 1917 and improved, widened and partially hard-surfaced over the years in an effort to improve safety.
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.