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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.

Published in The Northern Cape

This is an easy tarred pass on the R357 main route between Nieuwoudtville in the south and Loeriesfontein in the north. The pass is fairly short at 2,8 km and has an altitude variance of 118m, producing a moderate average gradient of 1:24 with the steepest section near the summit as steep as 1:10. The road surface was good at the time of production in June 2016 and the pass holds no obvious dangers. It is suitable for all vehicles, subject to fine weather and speed limits and barrier lines being adhered to.

Published in The Northern Cape

The pass is obviously named after the Doornrivier which course it follows for some distance. It is also sometimes called the Doringrivier Pass in the more Afrikaans style. The most notable feature of this pass is that the Nieuwoudtville waterfall is located close to the southern end of the pass. At 8,8 km this is a moderately long pass with a total altitude variance of 245m which produces an easy average gradient of 1:36, with the steepest parts being just after the summit point at 1:9. This is a safe, well engineered road with gentle curves and nicely banked corners and presents no obvious dangers in fair weather. It is suitable for all vehicles.

Published in The Northern Cape

This well hidden gravel pass lies in the southern sector of the Northern Cape in an area knows as "Die Hantam" about 40 km north-east of Nieuwoudtville. It is primarily a farm road and offers not only unusual and rugged scenery, but provides a sense of peace and timelessness in this sparesely populated region of South Africa. The biggest attraction to drive this pass is that it descends through an astonishing Quiver Tree (Kokerboom) forest - probably the densest population of Kokerbome anywhere in South Africa. The best time to visit is in late winter and spring when the landscape is a riot of colour as far as the eye can see.

Published in The Northern Cape

The Botterkloof pass is a fairly substantial altitude gaining pass in the Northern Cape between Clanwilliam and Calvinia. It is the third of a trio of passes on the R364 route for those travelling from west to east. In rainy weather or snowy conditions, this pass can become very tricky; even in a 4WD vehicle. The pass descends a total of 345m over a distance of 11,3 km producing an average gradient of 1:33 with the steepest parts measuring in at 1:10. There are sections near the summit with near vertical, unguarded drop-offs, which can be a bit intimidating for drivers unaccustomed to feeling so exposed. The more dramatic part of the pass is in the first 2,5 km near the summit.

The origins of the name are probably due to the large number of Botterbome that grow in the kloof. Tylecodon paniculatus can reach heights of 2 m, making it the largest of the tylecodons.  It is summer deciduous. The plants conserve energy by photosynthesising through their greenish stems during the hot dry summer months. The yellowish-green, papery bark is a very attractive feature of this plant and has given rise to the common name. During the winter, plants are covered with long, obovate, succulent leaves clustered around the apex of the growing tip.The botterboom is poisonous to stock, causing 'krimpsiekte'. In the past, the smooth, slippery stems were sometimes used to slide or ski at great speed down smooth rock faces or dam walls, adrenaline rushes before the days of bungy jumping!

Published in The Northern Cape

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.

Published in The Western Cape

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.

 

Published in The Northern 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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