Mountain Passes

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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Killians Pass is located on a gravel road about 20 km due west of Kamieskroon on the N7 in the heart of Namaqualand on the way to Soebatsfontein. To the west of the pass the road forks, with the lelt hand fork heading to Hondeklipbaai on the Atlantic coast, whilst the right hand route heads northwards to Komaggas. The pass is not a major one in terms of altitude gained or distance, but it is very steep in places with gradients of 1:5 over certain sections. Due to the arid climate, rain seldom falls here, which makes the pass reasonably safe to drive at almost any time of the year.

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This smallish gravel pass lies between the Bakenshoogte and Komsberg passes on a gravel road which forms an eastern loop off the R354 between Matjiesfontein and Sutherland. The pass is straightforward and has only a single, right hand S-bend near the summit. It ascends 176m in altitude to summit at 1236m, producing an average gradient of 1:16 and a maximum gradient of 1:14. Smoushoogte translates into Trader's Heights.

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This smallish gravel pass is located on a gravel road that starts and ends at two different points on the  R354 between Matjiesfontein and Sutherland. It provides an interesting alternative to the Verlatenkloof Pass route, but is longer and slower. This gravel road traverses three passes in a long right hand loop to the east before it rejoins the R354 near the summit of the Verlatenkloof Pass. The three passes include this pass (Bakenshoogte), Smoushoogte and the much bigger Komsberg Pass.
Bakenshoogte translates into Beacon Heights.

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This short and almost insignificant pass is located about 35km north of Matjiesfontein on the tarred R354 to Sutherland. The pass is safe and presents no apparent dangers if the speed limits are adhered to. The pass is located about 45 km south of the much bigger Verlatenkloof Pass. No-one seems to know who the Turk is in the name Turck se Pas (Turck's Pass).

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On this page we reproduce the most popular passes according to the number of page views on the website. Note that passes loaded in 2012 would naturally have more views than those produced in 2014. The statistics below are as at 15th October, 2014. The real surprise is Studtis Poort in the Baviaanskloof easily beating the rest of SA - and it is in such a remote place! These figures are a reflection of your preferences.








  1   Studtis Poort EC   14116
  2   Gamkaskloof WC   10141
  3   Swartberg Pass WC   9369
  4   Sani Pass KZN   8854
  5   Huisrivier Pass WC   7802
  6   Van Reenens Pass KZN 6767
  7   Bainskloof Pass WC   6562
  8   Du Toitskloof Pass New WC 6075
  9   Phantom Pass WC   5937
  10   Du Toitskloof Pass Old WC 5868




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On the eastern side of the Drakensberg Escarpment, facing away from the Blyde River Canyon, is the Mariepskop complex - a mountain enclave and centre of endemism of unsurpassed beauty. You can ascend to the top where, at 1,945m above sea level, you can see the Indian Ocean and Maputo on a clear day. Mariepskop is the higest peak in the northern Drakensberg Escarpment. The view is fantastic. This decisively steep pass is 13,7 km long and climbs 1100m to summit at 1942m ASL producing an average gradient of 1:14 but some of the sections are seriously steep at 1:5. The pass rises from the Lowveld at Klaserie on the R40 and climbs up this spectacular ridge of the Drakensberg in a complex network of roads, both gravel and tarred, to give access to the towering Mariepskop (its African name is Mogologolo) which plays host to a number of government installations including an SAAF Radar Station, a microwave tower and forestry fire look-out points.

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This 28.6km long offroad road is located between Fouriesburg and Clarens in the Free State and follows the northern bank of the Caledon River in an easterly direction, before changing direction to ascend the mountain. This route is only suitable for the more serious and experienced offroad enthusiast and will require a 4WD vehicle with low range and good ground clearance. Some of the gradients are as steep as 1:4

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The Bedrogfontein 4x4 trail between the Kabouga and Darlington areas of the Addo Elephant National Park provides breathtaking views and is rich in history. This route was the scene of fierce battles between the British and Boer troops during the Anglo-Boer war. Rock art paintings are found scattered throughout the area. The route travels through a variety of vegetation types, from riverine thicket, to afromontane forest, to fynbos on the peaks and into the arid Nama-Karoo of the Darlington area. This is strictly a 4x4 route and requires a vehicle with good ground clearance and low range. Bedrogfontein translates into Fraud Fountain.

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This fairly steep gravel pass lies between Thabazimbi in the south-west (18km) and Rankins Pass (40km to the east). Note that Rankin's Pass is not a pass, but a tiny SAPS outpost and a small general dealers store. The pass summits at 1464m and climbs a total of 314 vertical metres producing an average gradient of 1:14. The steepest sections are at 1:8.

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This is the newest pass in South Africa with a 2008 contruction date.The pass rises an impressive 720m up the escarpment through the Langeni Forest to summit at 1505m ASL. It has a stiff average gradient of 1:11. Modern engineering is evident throughout this pass, of which probably the most impressive feature is the 235m long viaduct over a section of the indigenous forest, which is built at the same gradient as the road - steep! The road connects Mthatha with Ugie to the north-west.

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This well designed pass is a safer, shorter and faster alternative to the better known Magoesbaskloof Pass (R71) as a connecting road between Haenertsburg and Tzaneen. George's Valley runs north-east from the Ebenezer Dam to Tzaneen Dam. It is named after George Denys who designed the road (R528). He was convinced he could design a better road to Tzaneen than the Magoesbaskloof traverse. Georges Valley Road is an equally scenic drive and linking the two passes for a circular trip is well worth the drive. New Agatha State Forest is also accessible from the R528 (high clearance vehicle required). At the time of publishing many reports have come in of bad potholes developing on the R528.There is no indication from the authorities when the road is scheduled for maintenance.

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This short, but scenic gravel pass traverses the Wadrift farm approximately 30 km north of Heidelberg in the Western Cape. It follows immediately where the Seekoeigat Pass ends and is flanked to the north by the towering Kanetberg (one of the main mountains within the Langeberg range) and the gentle waters of the Duiwenhoks River can be seen to the south. This is the final of the five access passes for those wishing to drive the historic (and rough) Gysmanshoek Pass, which is accessed where this pass ends.

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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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