Mountain Passes

This pass is for the more adventurous traveller and just getting to the start requires some careful driving and accurate navigation. The pass follows the course of a small river which has carved itself a gorge through the mountains. The river is a tributary of the Kraai River - itself a tributary of the Orange River (Gariep). This is an isolated, remote place in a high altitude region of the Eastern Cape some 30 km west of Barkly East. The road passes the Heuningneskloof farmstead halfway through the kloof and ends close to an 'anvil bend' at the confluence with the Kraai River. The road ends a little further in a dead-end at the farm, 'Gowrie'.

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This pass is straightforward with no sharp curves or steep gradients. It is of significant historical value in that this was the scene of a fierce battle during the Anglo-Boer war. The Battle of Allemansnek took place on 11th June 1900 between the Boer forces and the British army under General Buller. After this battle the Boers, fearing that they would be surrounded, retreated from Laingsnek. Buller occupied both Volksrust and Charlestown.

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Benjaminshoogte Pass is a high altitude pass with a summit of just under 2000m ASL. It follows a natural kloof into the north-west, which later follows the Karringsmelkspruit (Butter Milk Stream) valley, as it descends from the high mountains in the east from Glen Doone and Lupela Lodge. On the left hand side of the road is the well known 5 part rail reversing sections, which can be seen from the pass. The pass has a fairly comfortable average gradient of 1:23 and drops 336 metres in altitude over 7,79 km. The steepest sections are near the bottom of the pass at 1:7. 

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This beautfully scenic, high altitude, modern tarred pass is located on the R58 between Barkly East and Lady Grey. The 10 km long pass descends steadily through majestic mountain scenery to cross the dominant local river, the Kraairivier (Crow River) at approximately the halfway point. The ascent up the northern side is steeper, and the scenery is wider - offering fabulous views of the Kraai River valley which has carved a series of serpentine like bends through the landscape. This is a safe road, providing the speed limits are adhered to.

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The e-Roma pass is named in the Xhosa tongue, where many English words are prefixed by an "e". This steep gravel pass sweeps up the western ridge of a mountain just north of the small town of Cala and to the west of the Tsomo River valley. The pass is just under 5 km in length and climbs 267 vertical metres to summit at 1423m. Some of the gradients are quite steep at 1:7 and in rainy weather smaller cars might have some traction issues. Our video cover features an old composite photo of the elegant sandstone arches of the Xalanga bridge just outside Cala.

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This short, but scenic poort offers lovely, mountainous Karoo scenery on a very easy gradient of 1:124 with no dangers at all. The drive along the poort includes three river crossings. It ends in the north at the third crossing of the Kraairivier. (Crows River). The little known poort lies on a farm road that parallels the R329 on its northern side  for many kilometers and gives access to the well known Timbila Game Reserve as well as two other poorts in the area - Medenpoort and the much bigger Kamferspoort.

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The dramatic poort traverses a gap through the Grootrivierberge (Great River Mountains), which has been carved out by the Heuningkliprivier (Honey Stone River) which runs along the north/south axis, but via a convoluted path approximating the natural course of the river. It only climbs 58 vertical metres over 14km producing an easy average gradient of 1:241 - The beauty of this pass is its rugged, mountainous scenery.

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This scenic 4,5km gravel pass has a classic ascent/descent profile, but as poorts go, this one also doesn't have much of an altitude gain at just 88m. The average gradient pans out at a very gentle 1:51, but there are a couple of sections with much steeper gradients. The pass meanders along the course of a tributary of the Grootrivier, which itself has a massive drainage area sourcing in the Great Karoo. The poort lies 30 km WNW of Steytlerville in the Eastern Cape. The attraction of this poort is its complete feeling of isolation in the heartlands of the Karoo.

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This short, but scenic poort forms a natural access point across the lower mountain range which separates the Langkloof at the N9 with the farming area along the Kammanassie river valley and Mount Daskop. The poort is fairly straightforward and the only dangerous point is in the middle of the poort where the road crosses the Matjies River via 90 degree bend. The river allows the flora in the poort to flourish and the birdlife in this poort is known to be good. This poort does not appear on any maps as an official pass. We have named it solely for the purpose of indexing.

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This interesting gravel pass traverses the Kammanassie river valley offering beautiful views and some fairly steep gradients. This is an unofficial pass and no name appears on any maps relative to this pass. The pass descends from 610m ASL at its western end and drops 165 vertical metres over a very short distance via several tight bends to cross the Kammassie River via  a low level bridge. The road forms a T-junction at the Daskop farmstead where the pass turns sharply to the right to summit Mount Daskop itself at 526m ASL.

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An easy gravel pass traversing farmlands in the Little Karoo north of the Kammanassie River valley. The going is easy and the condition of the road is generally good. There are very few dangers on this pass, with the only exception being the crossing of the Leeublad farmstead at the end of the pass, where there are a couple of sharp corners and the presence of other vehicles, farming equipment, livestock and pedestrians. Treat the final kilometer with extra caution as the road passes within meters of the main farmhouse. A slow speed also keeps dust levels down for the farmer.

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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.

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This gravel farm road traverses a small gap in the mountains known as Eseljagpoort (Donkey Hunt Ravine). It crosses the farm of the same name and runs along the NW/SE axis and connects the Langlkoof from the tarred N9 with Heimersrivier, Oudtshoorn and Dysselsdorp in the Little Karoo. It provides an interesting alternative to the main tarred roads. Whilst this poort is minor in every respect, it does provide a feeling of distinct isolation and unusual tranquility.

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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. 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.

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This steep gravel pass connects the high plateau near Kamieskroon with the lower coastal belt and Killians Pass to the Namaqua National Park, Hondeklipbaai and Soebatsfontein. The pass descends 277 vertical metres over 3,83 km, producing a stiff average gradient of 1:14 with some steep sections at 1:5. Despite the steep gradients, the pass is generally in a dry condition, due to the arid climate and can be driven in a normal sedan vehicle. Together with its sister pass, Killians Pass, they form the southern gateway to the Namaqua National Park.

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Welcome...

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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