Mountain Passes

This gravel road pass offers spectacular views of forests, rivers and waterfalls and will also elevate you by 575 vertical meters. It has a summit height of 1353m which is guaranteed to provide magnificent 360 degree views.  It runs through the Blyde River Canyon National Park and is 10,3 km long ending at the crossing of the Mac-Mac River at its eastern end. It is located approximately 15 km north-east of Sabie. The road is an interesting alternative off the main tar roads to get to either Hazyview or Graskop from Sabie.

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This beautiful tarred pass of over 9km in length sweeps with gracious curves through the dense plantations east of Sabie in the Lowveld. It is the main road connecting Sabie with Hazyview. Although it only gains 197m in altitude and has a gentle average gradient of only 1:46, there some steep sections at 1:6. Most of the passes in this area are subject to frequent mountain mist conditions and as with all the other passes, we also put a cautionary on this pass in terms of the high dangers of driving in low visibility conditions.

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This fairly small pass is located in the Lowveld between Sabie in the west and the Kiepersol farming area in the east. The road provides a slower, scenic alternative to a section of the much busier R536 and is accessed from this road at either end. The pass has a fairly stiff average gradient of 1:14 with the steeper parts being at 1:7. It is tarred and gains 179 meters in altitude to summit at 912m ASL. There are no inherest dangers other than the usual problem of mountain mists and the obviously dangerous consequences of reduced visibilty.

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Incredibly this magnificent gravel pass is not officially named by any government authority at the time of writing. The well designed pass twists and turns its way laboriously through 738 meters of altitude through the mountains just two kilometers from the Swaziland border to summit at a T-junction with the R40 south of Barberton. In terms of altitude gained, this pass will slot in at the 14th highest nationally. The pass provides dramatic views of towering mountains and green valleys and takes us past an old forgotten mining town - Diepgezet. In dry weather the pass can be driven in a 4x2 "bakkie", but good ground clearance is important. In wet weather, we recommend a 4x4. ~ The information on this pass as well as some photographs were submitted by Andre van Dyk.

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This short, steep gravel pass is located approxmately 6 km north-east of Lydenburg. This is a rough gravel road only suitable for 4WD vehicles with good ground clearance. It carries almost no traffic and the condition can vary greatly depending on recent weather patterns. The start is awkward to find and the access route we are suggesting is one of several options possible. We recommend you carefully study the map and the Google earth imagery as well as make sure you have all the GPS waypoints on your GPS.

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This pass lies 12km to the NE of Lydenburg. Translated it means Gold Fields Pass. It is a gravel pass but is generally maintained to a reasonable level and will be suitable for most vehicles in dry weather. Like all gravel roads, they can quickly deteriorate in rainy weather and become slippery,muddy, corrugated and potholed. The pass traverses a narrow valley bisected by the Spekboomrivier, which boasts two classically designed high arched, stone bridges along it's course. The valley opens up progressively towards the south-east. This is a dead end road and as a consequence usually only has local traffic on it.

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This high altitude pass runs along the south-west/north-east axis connecting the R537 with the R40 just north of the Da Gama Dam. It is located approximately 12 km ESE of Sabie, as the crow flies. The pass summits at 1638m and there is almost always cloud covering the higher sections of this pass, creating misty and low visibiity conditions. The average gradient is 1:17 (moderate) but there are some very steep sections at 1:5 

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This beautiful, tarred pass winds it's way up the escarpment on the R533 from Graskop in the east to Pilgrims Rest in the west. The scenery is breathtaking, with forests, waterfalls and birdlife in abundance. This is a very steep pass, especially on the eastern side with gradients as tough as 1:5. The pass has an average gradient of 1:11 which places it in the Top 20 SA passes in terms of average gradient.

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This pass, together with it's sister pass, the Mpageni Pass forms the bulk of the old Nelspruit-Kaapmuiden road. It is a narrow tarred road [D286] that traverses the Crocodile Poort Nature Reserve. It climbs 473 vertical meters over a distance of 6,65 km to produce a stiff average gradient of 1:14, with some sections as steep as 1:5. The pass terminates where the Mpageni Pass starts (at the summit). Watch out for wild animals, especially at night and it should also be noted that there are two control booms, where you have to sign in and out. 

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Mount Carmel pass is a long gravel road climbing 310 vertical meters through the Mount Carmel range of the Drakensberg. It is located about 25 km north-west of Nelspruit on the D1054. The road connects several farms around Schagen and is mainly used by farmers and forestry vehicles. A vehicle with good ground clearance will cope better with this road, which traverses the beautiful valley through the Mount Carmel Conservancy.

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This gravel pass is frequented by the paragliding fraternity to access the hills which provide perfect lift. The 7 km pass runs on the north/south axis and drops almost 400m in altitude via a series of steep turns and hairpins to level off at the Wilgekraal farmstead, after which the pass is named. The average gradient of this pass is 1:14 with the steepest sections registering 1:6. In wet weather, this will be a slippery drive!

 



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This 5 km long pass is fairly steep with gradients of up to 1:6. The pass gains 218m in altitude and summits at 1531m ASL. It holds a good safety records and the curves are gentle and comfortable. The pass offers expansive views over the Kwena Basin and paragliders are often seen here using the lift off the ridges to stay aloft.

 

 

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This dynamic pass is located in the mountains to the north of Ngodwana and is a restricted road which falls under the jurisdiction of South African Paper and Pulp Industries (SAPPI). It is a big pass and covers a total of 27,6 km. The pass is tarred with an average gradient of 1:25, but there are some very steep sections at 1:5. The public are discouraged from utilising the road, but for those persistent enough, you can get a permit from the SAPPI office at Ngodwana. [Details lower down on this page] Caution: This is a dangerous road! Despite it being tarred, it has many corners with negative cross-flow. The road carries heavy trucks (SAPPI) which often use the entire road. Almost every one of its many bends has a name of a driver who has been injured or died there. Thick mountain mists bedevil the pass, sometimes reducing speed to a walking pace. There can be a temperature variant of up to 20 degrees, so take warm kit with. 

 



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The Hilltop Pass is  a wide, tarred road in good condition and is named after the farm Hilltop at the summit. The 6,24 km long pass offers beautiful views over the De Kaap Valley. The pass is located on the R40 and connects Barberton in the south with Nelspruit in the north. The pass is peppered with sharp corners, including 3 bends in excess of 120 degrees. It should be noted that there are no lay-bys to stop safely.

 

 

 

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The Koffiehoogte Pass is in reality, an extension of the lower/eastern section of the Long Tom Pass. It starts where the Long Tom Pass ends and descends continiously from just east of the Long Tom Bomb Hole historical site at an altitude of 1672m. The 5,87 km descent runs in an easterly direction towards Sabie through dense plantations. The average gradient is a stiff 1:14, with the steepest parts being at 1:8.

 





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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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