Mountain Passes

A pass is usually defined as “a break in a mountain range or other high obstruction, used for transportation from one side to the other”. Perskedraai does not even come close to this definition, as it consists of one long curve on what is essentially a flat section of land, yet multiple sources list it as an official pass. The name, which translates as “Peach Corner”, is most likely derived from the many peach orchards in the area. The pass is situated on the tarred R509 road between the two small villages of Derby and Koster and is 3.6 kms long, gaining just 16 metres in height. It is suitable for any type of vehicle (including bicycles!).

The N4 is a national highway that stretches across the entire northern section of South Africa, from the Botswana border in the west, through Pretoria, to the Mozambique border in the east. Astonishingly, there are only four official passes on this road, and Magatasnek is the only one located on the western half. The pass lies just to the west of Rustenburg.

The N4 is heavily tolled, and has a reputation as a dangerous road, in particular the section between Brits and Rustenburg, where there is only a single lane in each direction for much of this route. Impatient motorists tend to overtake slow moving traffic without any regard for the road markings and signs, resulting in a number of injuries and fatalities.

Geyersnek is located approximately 18 kms to the south-west of the small town of Swartruggens, in the North West province. The pass is named after Hendrik Frederick Christiaan Geyer (1884 – 1964) of the farm Rietfontein, and is situated on an obscure public road to nowhere, the D1065. The road surface is gravel (red clay) but is usually in a reasonable condition.

Although in dry weather a 4x4 would not be required, a high clearance vehicle is strongly recommended to drive this pass. The scenery around Geyersnek and on the approach roads is spectacular and lush, with rolling pastures and game farms in every direction, and is a nature photographer’s dream, particularly in spring or summer.

Lawson's Pass is a 16, 2 km long 4x4 route over the Gamkaberg and is located about 35 km south-east of Calitzdorp in the Little Karoo. It lies within the boundaries of the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve and offers exceptional mountain and valley views, coupled with a true eco-experience and a good chance of spotting game. The route is only open to 4x4 vehicles with adequate ground clearance and it is rated Grade 2. With most of the steeper sections being concreted, there aren't really any traction issues. Although there are several out and back and extenstion options in the reserve, we describe this route as a one way pass starting in the north and ending in the south. To make use of this option, it's necessary to make special arrangements with the manager, as the south gate is locked and keys must be obtained.

This 4,27 km long tarred pass is a northern extension of the fabulous Robinson Pass and sweeps through the Brakpoort about 18 km south-west of Oudtshoorn. The road descends 144 vertical metres, producing an average gradient of 1:30 with the steepest section presenting at 1:14. There is one dangerous corner of 90 degrees where some negative cross-flow has seen several vehicles departing the road for the much rougher ground of the ravine on the right. On the sharpest part of this corner, solid concrete crash barriers have been created and judging by the many metal scrapes and paint marks on the concrete, it has already served its purpose in saving lives.

Sephton’s Nek appears to have been named after Thomas Sephton, a British immigrant that arrived in the Zeerust district in 1860. He worked as a prospector and after finding some traces of gold, was partly responsible for starting a sudden rush on what was to become the Malmani Goldfields, today called Ottoshoop. The pass is situated on the tarred R47 route between Zeerust and Kopfontein, which is the primary border post used by most South Africans when travelling by car to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. Also located along this road is Madikwe, one of the largest game parks in South Africa.

The high altitude, fertile Witzenberg Valley lies hidden in a fold of the Skurweberg mountains, about 20 km north of Ceres. The Witzenberg Pass is the tarred accesss road that starts at the summit of the Gydo Pass and ends at the southern head of this long and attractive valley. The road is well engineered and in good condition. It passes through a neck in the mountains amongst weathered sandstone formations, revealing the starkly contrasting green orchards of the valley. Not many people drive this pass as it is a dead-end, but take 10 minutes and experience this lovely mountain pass in the heart of the Koue Bokkeveld.

At 670m this is one of the shortest passes on our database, but this little pass has plenty to offer the traveller. In that short distance are dense coastal forests, steep descents, a gravel surface, some water diversons, nine corners of which two are very sharp as well as fabulous views over the Indian Ocean at the Goukamma Nature Reserve's Platbank Beach.

This short, rough gravel road winds its way up the slopes of the Goukamma River Valley just to the north of the N2 between Knysna and Sedgefield. The pass offers great views over the Ganzvlei farm, after which it is named, where it nestles on the green banks of the Goukamma River. The railway line (now defunct) lies between this pass and the N2. The road is primarily used by loggers living in the mountains and it's not suited to sedan vehicles, but any vehicle with good ground clearance will manage, although we recommend a 4WD vehicle is being optimal.

This pass is short, steep and dangerous. It forms a fabulous section on the N2 in the Garden Route between Sedgefield and Knysna and brings the N2 lower in altitude by 166 vertical metres to end at the crossing of the Knysna River at 1m ASL. The views are of thickly forested hillsides with excellent views of the Knysna Lagoon once on the road bridge. The pass is named after the railway station of the same name, hidden amongst the trees just to the south of the summit. The pass should be read/viewed in conjunction with the Goukamma Pass which ends where this pass starts.

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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