This interesting gravel pass is located (as the name suggests) in the Klein Swartberg mountains about 40 km south of Laingsburg on the R323/P315 road. It is one of a series of passes and poorts in the area, which provide a fascinating range of options. The pass was built by Thomas Bain in 1880. Please read the detailed notes carefully as there is one very dangerous section on this pass you should be aware of.
This old pass which was built by Thomas Bain in 1860 can still be clearly seen from the new road (R46) which is on the northern side of the kloof. The dry-stone packed supporting walls of the old pass still support the original road, which was tarred in the 1930's - as well as acting as support base for the railway line, slightly higher up the slope, which is still in use to this day and was originally built by Bain as well, some time after completing the road. The old road can still be driven, but it should be noted that it is blocked off at the Tulbagh end at the railway station, where one has to turn around and retrace the route back to the starting point at the main bridge on the R46.
This fairly short poort routes through a clear gap in the mountains just north of Heroldt and forms a natural northerly extension to the historicial Montagu Pass on an easy traverse towards Oudtshoorn. This little poort seems to have been forgotten and completely dominated by the grandeur of the Montagu Pass, but a closer look at the Paardepoort (The Pass of Horses), reveals an old road, built in similar style to Bain's work of the late 1800's, which can be clearly seen on the opposite side of the poort with substantial retaining walls still adequately propping the old road up, above the river.
This historical oxwagon route dates back to 1776 when it was used by pioneers as a trade route between the coast and the Langkloof valley. prior to the current name, the route was known as the Duiwelskop Pass which was first designed by Thomas Bain circa 1865.
Enjoy magnificent views of the Indian ocean, the lakes around Wilderness and Sedgefield and the verdant Langkloof valley. The 21km route starts on Louvain guest farm and ends at the entrance of the Bergplaas Forestry station on the Seven Passes road between George and Knysna. It takes approximately two and a half hours to complete, and is enjoyable and scenic without being unduly demanding. A permit is required to enter the forestry area and the cost thereof is included in the permit obtainable at Louvain Guest Farm, which was R200 per vehicle at time of writing. This route is strictly for 4x4 vehicles with low range and good ground clearance. It can get tricky on the northern slopes in wet weather.
Note - No motorcycles or quadbikes are allowed.
Grey's Pass is approximately 157 years old and was designed and built by Thomas Bain in 1857 using between 100 and 220 convict labourers. The road has been fully deproclaimed, which means ownership (and maintenance) has reverted to the land owners. This lovely old pass is unfortunately not publicly accessible. There are certain exceptions, which will be explained later.
On the northern end it can be accessed via the gravel road close to the entrance to the historic Modderfontein farm off the N7. The middle section is shared commonly with the Piekenierskloof Pass, whilst the southern section lies to the west of the N7 and descends down to the valley floor over private farm land. Today the pass traverses the property of 3 private land owners as well as state land on the plateau, where the old pass has been obliterated by the N7.
It's something of a mission to drive this pass and having to comply with all the permission requirements and backtracking. Based on this, we suggest that this pass should only be attempted by the more serious pass hunter.
The Gannaga Pass is a magnificent gravel road ascending 548 meters through the Roggeveld Mountains from the endless plains of the Tankwa Karoo to the high plateaux near Middelpos. The pass does not break any records in terms of altitude, gradient or length, but it possesses an almost ethereal quality from a combination of graceful curves, raw mountain beauty and scope of vision that is rarely repeated in other passes.
It contains 45 bends, corners and curves which include 4 extremely sharp hairpins and another three corners sharper than 90 degrees. The quality of this road can vary greatly depending on recent rainfall and snow and especially when last it was maintained. On the day of filming it was in good condition, but is not always in this state.
Although it can be driven in a normal car, it is the roads leading to the pass in the Tankwa that can be a bit rough for a vehicle without adequate ground clearance. The approach from the south via the south and R355 is often a real tester for tyres that are not in top condition. Come well prepared in terms of the real possibility of picking up a puncture and carry two tins of 'Tyre Weld' or similar product with you.
The Nuwekloof Pass has a long history dating back to the early 1700's and is also known in it's various forms as the Nieuwekloof Pass, the Roodezand Pass or the Tulbaghkloof Pass. It is a modern, safe, well engineered pass which connect the towns of Tulbagh and Wellington on the tarred R46 route.
Beaufort West and its environs sport several interesting passes. Just 10 km north of the Karoo town is the 15 km long Molteno Pass - a mix of tar and gravel that ascends or descends 647 vertical metres to summit on the high plateau at 1574m. The pass connects Beaufort West with Loxton some 110km to the north.
This is a scenic drive offering a variety of landscapes to gaze on, plus it gives access to a bush camp, the Gamka Dam and the Bontebok Pass. The road follows the eastern boundary of the Karoo National Park for most of its length. It is on route R381 and it's administrative number is P0058.
The Karoo has several dynamic passes and the De Jagers Pass is one of them. It's located on a good gravel road about 30km NNE of Beaufort West. Unless you're a local farmer, you'll have very little reason to be on this road. Of course, pass hunters don't care about these things, and this gravel pass will satisfy every cent spent on fuel, locating it. It's a farm road and leads only to other farms in the area, but it does offer many options to the adventurous traveller. Please note that our description covers an ascending route from south to north which is by far the easiest way to locate this pass, but our video was filmed in the opposite direction for maximum scenic value.
The original pass was named after one of the area's pioneer farmers - Marthinus van Staden, who was the first person to plot a rudimentary track through the Van Stadens River Gorge. By 1867 the Cape Government decided to rebuild the pass to acceptable standards for wagon traffic. The actual construction was managed by George Apsey from 1865 to 1867.
Over time the pass was modified and tarred in the 1950's. When the N2 was rebuilt and improved, a new bridge was built which would span the Van Stadens River gorge and in the process completely remove all aspects of a mountain pass. Similar changes took place at several big bridges along the N2, such as Storms River, Bloukrans and Grootrivier. It takes about 30 seconds to drive over the gorge on the N2 today, which is fine if youre in a hurry, but the charm of the old pass is still available to those with a some extra time to spare. The downside of the tall new bridge is that it saw its first suicide victim soon after being built. One suicide followed another and soon the new bridge became known as the Bridge of Death. Authorities have subsequently erected cages along both sides and a call centre is on standby to help desperately depressed people.
Whilst the old pass still holds its charm and allure, the new bridge casts a sombre mood on an otherwise beautiful river gorge.
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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