Outeniqua Pass - N9

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View from the viewsite - Outeniqua Pass View from the viewsite - Outeniqua Pass - Photo: Trygve Roberts

The Outeniqua Pass is a relatively modern pass connecting the coastal town of George with Oudtshoorn and the Little Karoo. It was first built in 1951 to provide an alternative to the Montagu Pass. It has been widened and modernized several times since then and today carries the bulk of the traffic flow between the two towns and the Langkloof. Rockfalls and trucking accidents close the pass from time to time. The higher reaches of the pass are subject to heavy rainfall and dense mountain mists which can reduce visibility to a few metres. Under such conditions, this pass is dangerous especially due to the volume of commercial traffic that it carries.

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Digging into the details:

The pass was filmed travelling in a southerly direction and starts at the end of the last farm on the ascent from the fertile valley immediately to the north of the pass, where most of the South African hops production is grown. The pass ascends in a series of sweeping S bends and reaches the summit after two kilometers via a deep cutting through a nose of solid bedrock. Just before the summit is a narrow tar road heading off towards the east. This leads to a radio/TV /microwave tower and it's worth pausing there to take in the expansive views of the coastal plateau far below, whilst being surrounded by several peaks of the Outeniqua mountain range.

Rockfall on the passRockfalls cause massive damage to roads and put motorists lives in grave danger. In wet weather always be aware of this possibility. This is the same section of roadway featured on our video cover and is near the summit on the southern side / Photo: WikipediaThe road is in good condition but is frequently shrouded in mist or falls above the cloud base. The upper reaches of the pass are frequently wet and sometimes dangerous. Obey the speed limits (60 to 100ph) and there should be no issues. The road descends in lovely sweeping curves providing beautiful views all the way down. Look on the high side as there are almost always several small waterfalls cascading down the mountainside.

There are several rest stops/ view sites, but the second one from the top, which is marked as "4 Passes", provides magnificent views over the entire mountainside and coastal zone. The 4 passes are marked with a bronze plaque depicting the names, dates and brief history of each pass. The first is listed as the Voortrekker Pass and became officially known as the Cradock Pass.  Careful observation will reveal a series of white beacons on the mountain opposite and to the east of the Montagu Pass. The beacons lead up the hill and disappear up and over a neck. This very steep route provided a shortcut for many years to the farming area on the northern flank of the mountains known as the Langkloof. This was authorised and built by the local George landdros (magistrate), A.G. Van Kervel, between 1812 and 1847, but the route was murderous on tarvellers, wagons and oxen, with gradients of 1:4 and stone steps in places up to four feet high. Rarely would a wagon make it over the pass without a breakdown and a staggering time frame of three days was needed to cross the pass making use of a double span of oxen. 

Outeniqua pass view-siteMassive views from the Outeniqua Pass where four passes can be seen from this point / Photo: Trygve RobertsThe Montagu Pass (featured elsewhere on this website as a two part series) was built in 1847 and one gets a clear view of the pass from this vantage point, whilst the Railway Pass was built in 1913 which saw beautiful steam locomotives plying the rail link between George and Oudtshoorn for many years. The gradient of the railway pass is (by  necessity) gentle as it follows the approximation of the contours all the way down to George railway station.

The fourth and final pass is the newest - the Outeniqua Pass, which was built utilising labour from Italian prisoners of war between 1943 and 1951. Watch the helicopter flyover carefully and parts of the original road can still be clearly seen.

There are about four picnic areas/rest stops - all are immaculately clean. The speed limit is generally 70 kph. The road is in excellent condition and is frequented by a lot of heavy commercial trucks. It is suitable for all vehicles, but exercise extreme caution in misty weather when visibility can be reduced to a few metres. Fast moving cars ans slow moving trucks are mortal enemies and most of the accidents are caused by these speed differentials.

Fact File:


S33.875206 E22.381605


S33.885602 E22.398850


S33.942863 E22.419303














12.5 km




15 minutes


60 - 100 kph








George (10 km)

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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.

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