This 6,8 km long pass descends from Riversdale Heights adjacent to the Werner Frehse Nature Reserve, at a fairly steep gradient to cross the Goukou River at the 3 km point, having descended 143 vertical metres. It rises back up the eastern side to end at an altitude of 157m ASL. This pass and the one following it immediately where this one ends - the Soetmelksrivier Pass have been the scene of several serious and fatal accidents over the years. The road has been widened and the corners improved to assist with the safety of the road. Speed monitoring regularly takes place, so it's best to comply strictly with the speed limits.
This 9 km tarred road connects the seaside village of Brenton-on-Sea with the N2 at the main bridge over the Knysna Lagoon. The road is in good condition and offers a varienty of enchanting Garden Route views which include the eastern perspective of the lagoon from high above Belvidere Estate and a summit view westwards over Buffalo Bay (Buffelsbaai) with its 7 km long beach sweeping back away from Brenton on Sea towards Walker Point. The pass is suitable for all vehicles and presents few dangers providing speed limits and barrier lines are adhered to.
Vlieepoort, also commonly referred to as Vliegepoort, is located in the Crocodile River valley to the west of Thabazimbi. The Crocodile River originates in the Witwatersrand area and flows in a northerly direction, via the Hartbeespoort Dam, until it joins up with the Marico River on the Botswana border. Here it forms the Limpopo, which was popularized by Rudyard Kipling as “the great grey-green greasy Limpopo River” in his short story The Elephant’s Child. Like most other poorts, Vlieepoort is fairly flat and has a height gain of just 42 metres, but it is much longer than the national average at over 12 kms. The road surface is gravel, but it is generally in a good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, weather dependant.
With a height gain/loss of just 14 metres, Sandrivierspoort is one of the flattest passes in our database. Located near Thabazimbi, in the north-western region of the Limpopo province, the poort is situated in a wide valley at the confluence of the Sondagsrivier and the Sandrivier. Once referred to as a “remote and pestilent corner of Africa”, the region went through a boom period after the disappearance of the Tsetse and the discovery of iron ore deposits. This gravel poort is just 3.8 kilometres long, and can be driven in any vehicle, weather dependent.
Although this pass appears to have been named after the now extinct Quagga, which died out in South Africa at the end of the 19th century, it is far more likely that it was named after Burchell’s Zebra, a plains zebra which is often colloquially called the Kwagga. The Quaggas habitat never extended north of the Vaal River, whereas the zebra was, and still is, common in this area. This gravel pass is just 3.3 kms long, and has a mild average gradient of 1:25. The pass and the approach roads are generally in a good condition, and should present no problems for any type of vehicle, weather
“Die Noute” translates directly into English as “The Narrows”, and this pass is probably named as such because it climbs up the mountains through a narrow kloof. But the term is often used idiomatically in Afrikaans, as in “as jy in die noute beland” which loosely translates to “if you have to tighten your belt”, so it could also refer to hardship and trouble. The pass is just 1.1 kms long and has a height difference of only 36 metres, but it traverses neatly through dense riverine forest, and in some ways is briefly reminiscent of the 7 Passes road between Knysna and George.
When approaching Olifantsnek from the south, it is said that part of the mountain overlooking the dam looks like the head and trunk of an elephant, hence the name. Alternatively, it is quite possible that herds of wild elephant would have roamed this area long ago. It is the most westerly point of the “3 Dams” route, which is very popular with the motorcycle set as a breakfast run (the 3 dams being Hartbeespoort, Buffelspoort and Olifantsnek). This little pass is just 1.8 km long and gains only 39 metres in height, but what is lacks in statistics it makes up for in scenic beauty.
This rough, steep gravel pass lies on the eastern edge of the Knersvlakte and connects a few remote farms along the Klein-Koebee River Valley with the R27 and the towns of Vanrhynsdorp and Nieuwoudtville. It should not be confused with the Koebee Pass, which lies 7 kilometres to the south. The pass is not suitable for normal cars, but a commercial vehicle ("bakkie"} with reasonable gound clearance will manage it in dry weather. The average gradient is a stiff 1:9 with the steeper parts being at 1:4. Most of the pass will be driven in 1st and 2nd gear. The road is a dead-end, which makes this one more suitable to die hard gravel pass fans.
We offer three videos on this great pass:
2. Descent westwards back to the start (Knersvlakte)
3. Descent eastwards into the Klein Koebee valley
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.
This easy gravel pass of 5 km descends towards the N7 at Trawal on the western side of a long ridge like mountain known as Fonteintjiesberg with a substantial altitude gain/loss of 323m, offering lovely views over the Tierpoort with the Gifberg Mountain in the far distance. This is a quiet farm road with low traffic volumes. The road is suitable for most vehicles, but it can get quite sandy during the long, hot summer months, which will affect traction. This road provides a wonderful alternative to the N7 for the less hurried traveller who enjoys gravel road driving.
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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