Mountain Passes

This attractive and well-known little pass is situated in the heart of the leafy northern suburbs of Pretoria, appearing as a welcome surprise to those not familiar with the area. The pass is very steep at an average gradient of 1:8, causing some vehicles to labour heavily as they make their way up the pass in the rarefied Highveld air. This is also true for the runners which take part in the Tom Jenkins Challenge, an annual event which features the pass and which finishes at the nearby Union Buildings.

This rough poort of just over 1 km in length traverses a natural gap in the mountains about 24 km east of Klaarstroom. Some of the ascending up the northern side has gradients of 1:10, but once the middle point is reached at the 0,6 km point, it's fairly level from there onwards. There are wonderful views of the Groot Swartberg mountains to the south as you crest the summit. The road leads to the Hagas farm, about 1,5 km beyond the southern end of the poort.

This is a basic farm road and is sometimes little more than a jeep track. We recommend being in a 4WD vehicle or at least in a high clearance bakkie. This is a dead-end road, so you will need to retrace your route back to the R407.

Noorspoort  is a short  winding poort just north of the lovely Karoo town of Steyterville. The poort is perhaps best known for it's painted flags on the rock faces on the eastern side of the road and the town of Steytlerville is a shining example of how to rejuvenate an old town, which is immediately evident as one drives down the neat, broad streets filled with neat Victorian houses, lovingly restored replete with broekie-lace and shady stoeps. Down the cenrtre island of the main road the lamp posts are decorated with heraldic emblems and family crests from all sectors of the local community. The Noorspoort is 3,1 km long and has a minor altitude variance of just 24m, making for an easy drive, but don't get too transfixed by all the flags. The poort was carved out by the Grootrivier - a very long river which winds its way all the way down through the Baviaanskloof to form a confluence with the Gamtoos River near Patensie.

The Tilney Pass is a 6,6 km long pass that runs along the east-west axis in the southern shadow of the Warmwaterberg in the heart of the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. There is an altitude variance of 107m over that distance, which produces a mild average gradient of 1:61, but there are some much steeper sections at 1:9 near the eastern end and summit. This pass is only drivable by paying guests of the reserve and is not freely publicly accessible. This pass forms a long and intricate traverse in tandem with the Sandfonteinspoort (or Tilney Gorge North) connecting the southern entrance gate with the Sondwana and Sanbona lodges in the north near the Bellair Dam, with the attractively sited Tilney Manor forming a small oasis between the two passes. 

*Please carefully read the notes on public access to Sanbona lower down!

This remote little poort is difficult to find and is located approximately 40 km south-east of Springbok. Bobbejaanpoort translates from Afrikaans into Passage of the Baboons. The road is not much more than a sandy jeep track these days and if you're heading here in summer, you'll need to deflate your vehicles tyres as well as engage 4WD drive to cope with the soft sand. The poort is 3,2 km long and has the typical easy gradients synonymous with poorts at 1:49 with some of the gradients near the summer getting to 1:14. The scenery consists of fairly flat,sandy plains dotted with low scrubland and peppered with low granite hills. At the summit, which is reached after 1,1 km, there is a sturdy, locked farm gate, which means one has to turn around at the summit and retrace your route.

This lovely and fairly long poort follows the gorge formed by the Sandfontein river. It is also locally known as 'Tilney Gorge North'. The poort falls within the section of privately owned land of the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and is only accessible to paying guests. It's 7 km long and follows the natural gorge carved out by the river, which is one of three rivers which feed into the main dam at Sanbona - the Bellair Dam.

The poort presents gentle average gradients of 1:49 and other than severe corrugations, should present no problems for all types of vehicles, regardless of whether 4x4 or not.

*Please carefully read the notes on public access to Sanbona lower down!

This short, steep and winding gravel pass is only just over 1 km in length and climbs 57m producing an average gradient of 1:18 with some stiff gradients in the middle of under 1:5. The pass offers sweeping views of the valley of the Kareevlakterivier, which flows eastwards forming a confluence with the much bigger Touws River. It's located on the R1405 about 8 km to the west of Prinspoort and approximately 55 km south-west of Ladismith and 40 km NNE of Barrydale (as the crow flies). There are some steep, unguarded drop-offs on this pass and it's best driven at a slower speed.

Kruippoort, which translates as 'Crawling Passage' and probably relates to the slow speed of the original road,  is an easy tarred drive traversing the Vyversrus guest farm and game reserve off the R62 to the south-west of Ladismith in the Western Cape and forms part of the R323. The road is wide and safe and only has two gentle bends and a single small cutting near the summit, but the views of the Klein Swartberg to the north are excellent.

The poort has gentle gradients of 1:33 and follows a typical mid-summit profile. At 6,7 km it is above the national average in terms of length, and holds no apparent dangers and is suitable for all vehicles.

This scenic gravel poort is located about 10 km to the south-east of Springbok on the gravel R355 road to Loeriesfontein. It's named after the Eendoring farm near the western end of the poort. The R355 is a wide, gravel road which is generally maintained to a good standard, but it is prone to corrugations. The poort lies just south of the well known Goegap Nature Reserve and is 5,5 km long with an easy average gradient of 1:51, but there are one or two short sections where things get as steep as 1:11. The scenery is excellent, regardless of what time of year you drive along this road. The wide, sandy plains, interspered with jumbled granite peaks and ridges, perfect northern sunshine and the ubiquitous kokerbome, provides photographers with ample opportunities for great photography and for the rest - simply a place to enjoy the peace and tranquility.

This easy gravel poort meanders through a cluster of low granite hills on the R355 between Springbok to the west and Loeriesfontein which is 200 km to the south. The gradients are easy and the corners are wide, making this poort relatively safe. The only cautionaries worth noting are those of corrugations - the severity which depends on when last the road was graded - and dust. This part of the Northern Cape is seldom windy, so dust trails tend to 'hang' over the road for quite a while, which can severely reduce visibility.

At 10,3 km the poort is well above the national average and it only displays an altitude variance of 116m, resulting in a very mild average gradient of 1:89, with the steepest parts being at 1:20.

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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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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