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.
This short but very scenic pass is located to the south-east of Middelburg in the Eastern Cape, on the N10 national highway. There are no sharp bends and the road is perfectly engineered and constructed, allowing safe passage over the pass provided that you stick to the speed limit and are not distracted by the views. The area around the pass is typical of the Upper Karoo landscape, with low flat plains interspersed with rolling hills and koppies. The pass is suitable for all vehicles.
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.
Vyfmylpoort translates from Afrikaans into Five Mile Passage or in metric terms 'Eight Kilometre Passage' and that is exactly what it is - an 8 km poort close to the South African-Namibia border at Vioolsdrift. The scenery is mountainous and rugged, barren and cork dry as the N7 winds its way through the rugged poort carved out over the millenia by the Kowiep River, which is a typical desert river - wide and shallow and seldom has any water in it. The pass is on the national route N7 and in excellent condition. The surface is smooth and the corners and curves are wide and comfortable, allowing a steady speed to be maintained throughout. The poort has an altitude variance 172m and displays typical easy average poort type gradients of 1:50. The road is suitable for all vehicles.
Vissershok translates from Afrikaans into Fishermans Cage. This small pass has some serious gradients and connects the north-western suburbs of Blouberg (Cape Town) with Durbanville and forms part of the semi-urban M48 route. It's 4,8 km long and sports an average gradient of 1:28 with the steepest sections on the western side getting as steep as 1:7. This road has a poor safety record with many fatal accidents having occurred. The road is narrow, unevenly surfaced and has no safety shoulders. Despite these dangers, it is a perennial favourite training route for cyclists. Large numbers of heavy trucks utilise the road to access the active quarries in the valley - namely Contermanskloof and Cotswold quarries. Drive with caution.
Malanshoogte is a smallish tarred pass just north of Cape Town that connects Adderley Road in the north with the Contermanskloof Road in the south. The pass is 4,3 km long and presents an altitude variance of 110m producing an average gradient of 1:40 with the steepest sections, being on the northern side at 1:11. This is a fairly safe road with no apparent design dangers, but it should be noted that there are no safety shoulders (danger for cyclists) and some of the corners are quite sharp, so comply with the speed limits. A further hazard are many trucks accessing the quarry near the summit.
This interesting little pass is named after the Plankfontein farm, which it traverses and forms part of the R61 tarred route between Tarkastad and Cradock. It's a mixture of a pass and a poort, with the first section displaying the big pass-like cuttings, whilst the second half after the bridge near the farmstead, displays more poort like characteristics as the road mimics the course of the river down the kloof.
It takes just 4 minutes to drive the pass, which is 3,5 km long and has an altitude variance of 128m, producing a comfortable average gradient of 1:27, but the steepest part, immediately after the start and summit is quite steep at 1:8. The pass lies about 15 km north-east of Cradock and is suitable for all vehicles.
This pass lives up to it's name in every way, as it's long, packed with corners and steep gradients and more importantly it offers spectacular scenery. It connects the capital town of the Northern Cape (Springbok) with the mining town of Kleinzee and carries the road number P0745 which is a clear indicator that this was once a fairly minor road. It now falls under route number R355, which terminates at Kleinzee in the west at the coast. As Kleinzee is an important diamond mining centre, the road has been upgraded to a high quality standard to carry the heavier traffic associated with mining. At 17,5 km it's amongst the longer South African passes and whilst the average gradient pans out at a mild 1:31, there are several steeper sections at 1:8.
The Pelangwe Pass is an obscure, but extremely well engineered, tar pass situated near Ga-Nkoana in the centre of the Limpopo province. To get to the pass from the south involves some complicated routing through a densely populated rural area, so travel is slow and you will need to be extra vigilant, because of traffic, pedestrians and livestock. The approach from the north is on a gravel road which is poorly maintained, but a 4x4 is not required. The landscape surrounding the pass is very unusual, with the predominant colour of the rocks and ground being white. The pass and the small town at the northern end are named after the Pelangwe Mountain, which is in the immediate vicinity.
Dulcie’s Nek is a minor pass located in a forgotten corner of South Africa, in a triangle formed by the borders of the Eastern Cape, Free State and Lesotho. No trace can be found to indicate who the “Dulcie” was that the pass is named after. The road is tarred, is in an excellent condition, and can be driven in any vehicle. The area is the birthplace of Olive Schreiner, one of South Africa’s best-known and beloved authors, and the creator of a classic tale about pastoral life in the Karoo, “The Story of an African Farm”.
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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