This well engineered pass connects the Karoo towns of Noupoort and Middelburg on the N9 route. With fairly easy gradients, the 7 km long traverse through stunning Karoo landscape is well worth the effort. The pass is named after the large mountain to the south of Noupoort, known as Carlton Hills.
Kastrolnek translates into 'Saucepan Neck' and it will be a case of "out of the frying pan and into the fire" if you venture over this pass during a snowstorm, as the maximum altitude is an energy-sapping 2030m ASL, but mostly it's a safe and straightforward drive in dry weather conditions. The pass is 6.8 km long and ascends 233 vertical metres producing some very steep gradients of up to 1:6. The pass connects Piet Retief with Wakkerstroom on the tarred R543.
This gentle tarred pass is located in southern Mpumalanga, very close to the border with KwaZulu-Natal. It lies on the R543 between the small towns of Volksrust in the west and Wakkerstroom in the east. On a clear day both places are visible in the far distance from the summit. The pass runs from east to west in a mostly dead-straight line, except for a shallow S-bend near the summit where the road crosses over a railway track. No real dangers except for stray farm animals or over-excited twitchers present themselves, but snow can be experienced here in winter, in which case extreme care should be exercised on the slippery roads.
A fairly easy pass just north of Volksrust on the N11 with an average gradient of 1:45, but there are some steep sections at 1:8. The vertical profile is the classic up/down shape with a summit altitude of 1844m offering grand views in all directions. Volksrust is subject to winter snowfalls due to its high altitude and this pass does sometimes get closed by the traffic authorities in the event of heavy snow, which makes conditions on the pass dangerous.
Visierkerfnek, which translates as “Gunsight Notch Neck”, is minor pass which connects Newcastle with the Vulintaba Country Estate and Hotel. Although recently tarred, poor workmanship has resulted in a bumpy surface riddled with potholes, but the pass can be negotiated in any vehicle. There are no apparent dangers, other than the tight curves on the southern side of the pass where the speed limit has been reduced to 40 kph, obviously because problems have been experienced here in the past. The pass is 3 km long and there is a height gain of just 105 metres.
This is a straight-forward climb up a steep hill about midway between Newcastle and Normandien on a tarred road and has only one slight bend in the road. It is suitable for all traffic and is named for its proximity to the well known iNcandu Waterfall, which is very close to the summit of the hill.
This pass is named after the Ngogo River, which flows from west to east on the southern side. Derived from Zulu, the name has been explained as an onomatopoeic rendering of water gurgling over stones, but the phrase is also used as a term of respect for an older woman. This area was especially vulnerable during the Boer struggle for independence from Britain in the 1880’s, commonly known as the First Anglo-Boer War. Decisive battles were fought in the vicinity of Volksrust at Lang’s Nek and Ingogo, followed by the Boer victory at the Battle of Majuba, where the British commander, General Colley, was fatally wounded.
Scheepersnek is a minor climb over a smallish hill with two tiny changes in direction and an altitude gain of only 64m. It is located 15 km south-west of Vryheid on the tarred R33 route. If you did not make a note of precisely where it is, this little "pass" would probably go by unnoticed. What it lacks in physical presence, it counters with some interesting battlefields history, as this is where the Battle of Scheepersnek took place on the 20th May, 1900.
This steep, tarred pass has the classic low-high-low profile rising 262m over 6 km producing an average gradient of 1:23, but many parts of this pass are at a stiff 1:7. The road, which has a summit altitude of 1351m ASL, connects Vryheid with the Black Umfolozi Valley. The pass is a mix of tar and gravel with all of the western ascent being tarred and most of the eastern descent, being gravel, except for three short tarred sections on the steepest sections most prone to water damage. The name Leeunek translates into Lions Neck.
There is some confusion with regards to the name of this pass, as many online references locate Glenluce Pass in the same place as the neighbouring Endumeni Pass, which is a few kilometres away to the east. Most of the Anglo-Boer War transcripts refer to this traverse as Uithoek Pass, and there is a fairly compelling argument that this would have been correct at the time, given that the farm “Uithoek”, which was owned by Voortrekker leader Karel Landman, is located here.
The pass is situated just to the south of the small village of Glencoe, close to Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal. The tarred road is in a good condition, and should not present problems for any vehicle.
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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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