This is an historic pass over private land that connects the farm Rustfontein (where the grave of General Piet Joubert can be found) with the farm Streepfontein on the northern side of the imposing Versamelberg. The pass is under 5km long and has some challenging sections where the gradient is as steep as 1:5. This road is only suitable for high clearance 4WD vehicles with low range. Permits can be obtained at the Rustfontein farm, which also offers other challenging 4x4 routes, one of which starts at the summit of the Joubertsnek Pass and reaches altitudes well above 2000m.
This easy scenic gravel pass of 4 km., connects farms in the Amersfoort area with farms in the Piet Retief/Panbult area and is a typical straightforward traverse over a natural low point in the Elandsberg range. With easy average gradients of 1:64 and some steeper sections of 1:11, the pass offers lovely views over the vast pastures in this dairy/cattle farming region of South Africa.
This week, we take pleasure in introducing you to a marvellous (and little known) gravel pass in the Western Cape, close to Wolseley. We discovered this pass whilst researching another obscure pass in this beautiful area. Whilst the gradients on the pass are quite reasonable, the road follows a convoluted route with several sharp switchbacks, up the mountain to a higher altitude plateau in the mountains, previously utilized as a pine plantation, but today is being progressively handed over to Cape Nature as part of the Waterval Nature Reserve.
At present the road is still under the control of Cape Pine (the old SAFCOL) and a permit is required to ulitilise the road. We provide details of how and where permits are obtainable. The area is designated for the use of mountain bikers, birders and hikers, but vehicles are allowed up the pass, subject to permit conditions.
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This is a beautiful gravel pass that ascends the eastern side of the Watervalsberg near Wolseley and connects the town with the Suurvlak plantation on top of the mountain. The pass falls under the jurisdiction of Cape Nature as well as the state's forestry arm in the Western Cape (Cape Pine). The road is open to permit holders only - we explain the process of getting the permit lower down on this page. The pass zig-zags its way up the mountain via three extreme switchbacks, at a fairly reasonable gradient and is well designed, offering exceptionally good views over the Tulbagh Valley and the Witzenberg mountains to the east.
This is an easy gravel drive through the valley of the Bivane river, known as Pivaanspoort. It offers magnificent mountain scenery and if you know where to find them, a few waterfalls as well. The poort is 9,47 km long and presents an easy average gradient of 1:61, but there are a few short sections where things get as steep as 1:11. The poort lies between the R33 north of Vryheid in the east and Utrecht to the west. The road is suitable for all vehicles.
A steep, gravel pass that connects the Wakkerstroom/Luneburg road (P437) in the south with the tarred R543 in the north. It straddles the border between KZN and Mpumalanga, but the steepest part is in Mpumalanga, so we have indexed it under that province. The pass rises fairly gently from the southern side to summit at 1766m offering wonderful views to the north and south. The altitude loss on the northern descent is 230m and some of the gradients are as steep as 1:5. This road is best driven in a high clearance vehicle and needless to say, it will be very slippery when wet.
A minor poort about 10 km west of Fraserburg on the gravel R365. The poort offers a smattering of greenery as it follows the course of the river for 2.24 km rising a scant 16m in altitude. The average gradient pans out at negligible 1:140. There is a solitary farm nestled in a shady part of the poort close to a copse of bluegum trees. No matter how insignificant it appears in the geater scheme of things, it will seem like an oasis after the flat, dry scenery for more than 100km in every direction.
This is an interesting gravel pass of moderate length with some sharp corners and steep gradients. It conencts Candover in the north with Magudu in the south-west. The pass also functions to serve numerous farms in this mountainous region of KZN. The road is suitable for all vehicles, but things can get decidedly slippery here in wet weather. Adjust your speed accordingly.
This is a fairly safe, high altitude gravel pass located about 15 km north-east of Indwe in the Eastern Cape. It is located on the R396 which connects with the R56 in the south and the tiny village of Rossouw in the north. The pass is of average length (3,4 km) but it does climb incessantly, producing a stiff average gradient of 1:14. Some of the steeper sections present at 1:6. With an altitude of 1786m the pass is subject to regular winter snowfalls. In snow conditions, it is best avoided entirely. In fair weather the pass can be driven in a normal car.
This short, gravel pass forms part of the Rooi Ivoor 4x4 route which includes another unofficial pass - The Doornhoek Pass (also featured on this site). Together these two passes form the ascent and descent towards a deep valley to the north. The Buffelskloof Pass traverses a mountain to the north of the Buffelskloof Dam and offers many viewing options over the dam, which get better as altitude is gained. This road can only be driven with a high clearance vehicle or 4x4 with low range. Access is restricted to permit holders. The route is gated along the lower parts of the Buffelskloof dam road as well as in the north at the Doornkloof farm. For more information on the full 4x4 route, please Google Rooi Ivoor 4x4
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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