This fairly long gravel pass on the secondary MR00668 road, measures in at 9,9 km and displays an altitude variance of 229m. It has 13 bends, corners and curves of which only one is fairly sharp at 80 degrees. The pass connects Burgersdorp in the north-west with Jamestown and Dordrecht in the south-east.
It's not a specifically dangerous or technical pass, but like all gravel passes, it can quickly deteriorate in rainy weather and especially after snow. It has an impressive summit altitude of 1853m ASL which classifies it into the second highest group of passes in South Africa. If you enjoy lonely, remote passes then add this one to that list. It ticks the right boxes.
Cautionaries: Loose gravel, ruts, wash-aways, corrugations, livestock on the road, dangerous at night.
Mayaba Pass is located just to the south of Tugela Ferry, a large scattered town which straddles the Tugela River in KwaZulu-Natal, north of Greytown on the R33 trunk route. When it comes to hazards, this pass ticks all of the boxes; terrible road conditions, steep unguarded drop-offs, lots of traffic, pedestrians, children, domestic animals and livestock on the road. There is some evidence that work has commenced to upgrade this road, but in the meantime we strongly recommend that you avoid this pass altogether if possible, particularly at night. It can be driven in any vehicle, but extreme care will need to be exercised. The pass is named after the small village located at the summit.
It contains 26 bends, corners and curves within its 10,4 km length and produces an average gradient of 1:21, but many sections especially on the northern side of the summit point reach gradients as steep as 1:7.
This pass should not be confused with Botha's Pass in Mpumalanga. It's located near the beautiful Vondo Dam in the northern sector of Limpopo Province and is to all intents and purposes more of a forestry access road than a commuter pass, but for those willing to seek out the roads less travelled, this pass packs a big punch within its 5,7 km, featuring no less than 49 bends, corners and curves, of which 9 exceed an arc of 100 degrees. The folklore and myths that abound in this area are legendary and fascinating to read.
During fair weather periods, this pass can be driven in any high clearance vehicle, but in rainy weather, the roads become muddy and impassable for normal vehicles. Rather use a 4x4 in wet weather. During week days logging vehicles and heavy machinery dominate these roads. Drive with your lights on bright at all times and give way to forestry vehicles.
Finding this pass requires precise navigation. Make sure you have all the waypoints entered in your GPS in the directions sections below, otherwise you will more than likely get lost. As we have not yet physically filmed this pass, there might be locked gates or no access issues on some of the roads. Drive at your own risk.
This is one of several small poorts that have been carved through the east-west running mountains to the north of the R329 and R407 over a long distance stretching from Klaarstroom in the west to Steytlerville in the east. All of these poorts run along the north-south axis and many of them look like carbon copies of the previous one, yet there are subtle differences in each poort's geographical and geological features which sets one apart from the other.
Witpoort is a perfect example of one of these poorts. It is just 1,8 km long, has two minor bends and a tiny altitude variance of 19m. The railway line, road and river all compress within the confines of the poort and as is the case with all of these poorts, this one too is prone to flash floods.
The usual gravel road cautionaries apply of corrugations, loose gravel on corners, ruts, washaways, livestock on the road and ever present danger of punctures. Travel here well prepared and make sure you have pre-planned your route carefully noting all the intersections. Many of them have no signage, so it's easy to get lost.
* Jingle Bells
* Road safety
* How to fix a puncture
* Book on our next tour
* Pass of the week
* New passses added
In this penultimate newsletter of 2018 we take time out to wish every one of our subscribers, followers and friends who enjoy our passes and poorts across our beautiful country, a relaxing and safe time with your families over the holiday season. More importantly we wish you safe travels and in that process, we continue with our December theme on road safety.
In today's issue we focus specifically on punctures and how best to deal with them and we offer a step by step guide on how to be self-sufficient when your spare wheel has already been swapped and you get that dreaded second puncture hundreds of kilometres from the nearest town.
For our featured pass this week, we take you up into the northern-most sector of Limpopo province to cyber-drive the 24 km long and absolutely magnificent Abel Erasmus Pass. We take a peek at the man himself who attained some fame as a fearless hunter and earned the respect of locals of all races who gave him the nick-name 'Ndabulu Duzi' for his practice of waiting until the last possible moment before firing on his quarry.
Bookings have just opened for our first tour of 2019 - The Tower to Tower Tour - a one day bonanza only open to 4WD vehicles with low range. What sets our tours apart from the rest is that we don't charge per person, but per vehicle. Our tours are normally booked out in a day or two, so grab your spot: BOOK NOW!
There are also some new passes produced this week, so sit back, relax and enjoy the South Africa many people don't know about. [More lower down...]
This fairly long pass of 9,4 km winds its way over the mountains in the vicinity of the Nonesi village about 17 km north-east of Queenstown in the Eastern Cape. The pass is tarred and is located on the R392 trunk route between Queenstown and Dordrecht
When the pass was rebuilt and realigned, many of the steep gradients and sharp bends were removed, making today's version of the pass is a much safer traverse. During winter, the pass is subject to snowfalls, in which case it's best avoided altogether unless you are in a 4WD vehicle.
As the case with all the roads (tar and gravel) in the old Transkei region, livestock on the road is an ever present threat and these roads are best avoided at night. The Bongolo Dam at the southern end of the pass has an interesting history dating back to the early 1900s and was apparently built making use of donkeys as labour. The word mbongolo means donkey in isiXhosa, hence the name of the dam and the pass.
This is an official pass, marked accordingly on all the government maps. Quite how this minor little dip down over a bridge ever got classified as a pass, is beyond our comprehension, but the reality is that there are at least 50 similar minor dips in roads all over South Africa, which some government official or cartographer decided it was good enough to get an official name.
The 'pass' has a classic inverted profile synonomous with a road that drops down to cross a river and then climbs up the far bank. It is just 1,7 km long, has only bends and a very mild average gradient. Common cautionaries here include livestock on the road and slow local trafiic.
This scenic drive provides an interesting and easy traverse of the poort that has been carved out by the Trakarivier. Although the road is virtually flat with only a 20m altitude variance over the 4,1 km length, it does include 4 crossings of the same river. For 99% of the year, these bridgeless crossings are very easy as the river bed is usually bone dry. The road forms a complex network of farm roads that service the remote farms west and north of Willowmore through a range of ridges and hills 15 km north the Swartberg mountains. It's easy to get lost here and many of the intersections have no signage. Travel well prepared with waypoints pre-plotted in your GPS.
Cautionaries: Like all gravel roads, conditions can change very quickly during or after heavy rain. Rivers in the Karoo are universally shallow and wide and prone to flash floods. If you're trapped inside a poort during a flash flood, it could prove to be life threatening. There are many similar poorts in this region and most of them display the same geographical tendencies.
River Crossings 101 - An in depth discussion on how to deal with flooded rivers, bridges, drifts and causeways.
Listen to the interview:
This short poort is located on a minor gravel road between Victoria West and Loxton. It's only just over a kilometre long and has a small altitude variance of 33m. It's a very long drive locating this little poort and only the most dedicated pass hunters will make the big effort to drive it.
To make up for its relatively unimpressive statistics, you will experience an intense of isolation and the wide and barren expanses of the Karoo always has landscapes of note to enjoy.
The usual gravel road cautionaries apply of corrugations, ruts and washaways as well as loose gravel on the corners. IT's best to expect to get a puncture. If you don't have two spare wheels, travel with a repair kit and know how to use it. A portable compressor is a useful addition to your tool kit.
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.