Mountain Passes

This attractive 5 km stretch of coastal road is located on the western side of the Cape Peninsula and connects Kommetjie and Noordhoek with the tiny settlements of Misty Cliffs and Scarborough in the south. It is has plenty of twists and turns, but a small variance in altitude, making it an enjoyable road for cyclists. The views to the west are wonderful of the Atlantic surf thundering onto the rocks close to the road and at the northern end the distinctive shape of the Slangkop Lighthouse with its crescent shaped white beach seals off the northern views.

This beautiful coastal drive contains 18 bends, corners and curves but none of them are of a serious or dangerous nature, providing speed limits are adhered to. The road surface is getting old and a bit bumpy from various repair works and the road is also fairly narrow over most of its length. Overtaking is awkward and dangerous due to the many corners. Sit back, relax and take in the stunnng scenery. Expect slow, tourist paced traffic.

The Truitjieskraal Road forms part of an escape route via the Kromrivier farm and Kromrivier Pass, when the Matjiesrivier is in flood. It's a fairly rough gravel road, which only allows a speed of around 20 kph. The route is 8,5 km long and climbs 108 vertical metres over that distance, most of it over the first two kilometres, with some stiff gradients of 1:8. After that the road meanders between beautiful weathered Cederberg sandstone formations over a wide mountain plateau amongst pristine fynbos and proteas and terminates at the bridge crossing at the well known Kromrivier farm. The route is doable in a normal sedan car, providing speed is kept low. This road gives access to the Truitjieskraal rock formations, as well as the rock-climbing routes and hiking trails.

Although officially designated as a pass, Spiders Nek struggles to live up to its name, as it is a long, straight, almost flat gravel road near both Excelsior and Marquard in the central Free State, and should be considered more of a scenic drive. The rolling grasslands, pastures and dams, interspersed with beautiful sandstone koppies and mountains, make for stunning scenery and photographic possibilities. The peace and tranquillity of the area is enhanced by the birds and animals all around you, and disturbed only by the occasional farm vehicle. The road is in a good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, except possibly in wet weather.

Sand River Heights (Sandrivierhoogte)  is located on the national N1 highway between the small towns of Ventersburg and Winburg, and is one of only three passes on this highway north of Bloemfontein. The road is wide, with two lanes in either direction, and is extremely well designed and built, so it presents few dangers, except for the “surprise” factor. After travelling on long straight roads for many kilometres, especially if approaching from the south, the pass seems to appear out of nowhere, and can catch an unsuspecting driver unawares.

Jagpoort is an obscure gravel road pass, situated close to the small central Free State town of Winburg. The name, which translates as “Hunting Passage”, probably stems from the hunts which would have taken place to feed the Voortrekkers as they settled in and around this area. Vast herds of game used to roam these huge open grassland plains; sadly, this is no longer the case, and wild animals in the present day are restricted to the public and private game reserves scattered around the region. The road is in a good condition, and can be driven in any vehicle, weather permitting.

Whoever was naming passes in this area obviously ran out of ideas, as this pass is simply known as Die Nek (The Neck). It skirts a prominent mountain on the north-eastern side of the tiny town of Excelsior in the central Free State, and essentially consists of just one long gravel road curve from the north-east into the south-west. The road, although fairly rough in places, is in a reasonable condition, and can be driven in any vehicle except possibly in wet weather. The area has great scenic beauty if you take the time to look beyond the seemingly endless flat plains which dominate the region.

This beautiful, modern and well designed pass is situated near the small town of Stutterheim on the national N6 highway. The pass derives its name from the small fort and telegraph office built in 1878 towards the end of the 9th (and last) Frontier War, and which was named after General Sir Arthur Cunynghame, commander of the British forces in South Africa from 1874 to 1879. The pass presents magnificent views over the forests which abound in the area, holds no apparent dangers, and can be driven in any vehicle.

Kommandonek is located on the tarred R26 road between the small Eastern Free State towns of Fouriesburg and Ficksburg. Although it traverses an area that is sprinkled with spectacular sandstone mountains, the pass itself is not particularly impressive, being only 4 kilometres long and with a height gain of only 77 metres. The R26 has a notoriously bad reputation for the numerous potholes which plague sections of this road, but the pass can be driven in any vehicle. The name of the pass is no doubt derived from the frenetic military activity in this region during the 2nd Anglo-Boer War.

Cole's Pass was considered in it's day to be quite a serious road and contains three minor passes within its 21,6 km length, but with the excellent modern engineering methods having smoothed out the gradients and improved the banking and width, today the name of Cole's Pass has fallen into disuse as offialdom no longer consider it worthy of being called a pass. In essence, the road connects the Houw Hoek Pass in the east with Sir Lowry's Pass in the west and forms part of the N2 highway. The road traverses lovely mountainous scenery, dotted with apple orchards, forests, dams and rivers, but this is a very busy highway, so drivers will need to keep their eyes on the road.

Like Sir Lowry's Pass, this pass was also named after Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole. He served as brigadier-general in Sicily and commanded the 1st Brigade at the Battle of Maida on the 4 July 1806. In 1808 he was promoted to major-general, to lieutenant-general in 1813 and full general in 1830. He was colonel of the 27th Foot, commanded the 4th Division in the Peninsular War under Wellington, and was wounded at the Battle of Albuera in which he played a decisive part. He was also wounded, much more seriously, at Salamanca. For having served with distinction in the battles of Maida, Albuhera, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthez and Toulouse, he received the Army Gold Cross with four clasps.

He was appointed 2nd Governor of Mauritius from 1823 to 1828. He left in 1828 to take up the post of Governor of the Cape Colony which position he filled until 1833. Cole was invested as a Knight Grand Cross, Order of the Bath on 2 January 1815.

Martjie Se Nek is a gravel road pass situated near Vaalwater in the Limpopo province. The road is wide and in good condition for most of the pass, but there are sections that have been heavily damaged by water runoff, necessitating the use of a high clearance vehicle, although a 4x4 would not be required. The clay surface of the road is badly corrugated, and would become treacherous in wet weather. The views from the flat section near the summit towards the south are magnificent, and provide a seemingly never-ending vista over the plains below the escarpment.

Mountain Passes South Africa

Our website is 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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Route File

On a pass-page, scroll down to below the Route Map, to download the Route File. Available only to Registered Users.

 

Mountain Passes South Africa

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.
 

Master Orientation Map

Master Orientation Map 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.

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