Mountain Passes

This lovely gravel poort winds it's way along the valley carved out by the Luzi River. It's located 9 km south-west of Mount Fletcher as the crow flies. The road can get very slippery when wet and is often badly rutted. At 14,8 km it's a fairly long poort and it's peppered with sharp bends as well as several unbriged river crossings via concreted drifts. There are a total of 21 stream crossings and the 84 bends, corners and curves which requires attentive driving. The road remains on the southern side of the Luzi River throughout.

With a few exceptions, all the stream crossings (which are tributaries of the Luzi River), are via concreted drifts. As these streams have a fast run off down the mountain slopes, and they can become lethal when in flood. Exercise extreme caution under such conditions and never take a chance if you think the depth is too deep and the current too swift. You will be treated to some stunning scenery of sandstone outcrops and colourful tribal villages. Don't be in a hurry on this drive. Luzi Poort is the final of three passes between Rhodes and Mount Fletcher and is often overlooked by the bigger Pitseng Pass and of course Naude's Nek Pass, which is the dominent pass in the area. We recommend a high clearance vehicle, although a 4WD vehicle is not required, except in muddy conditions.

Uitkykhoogte is a minor gravel road pass, located to the south-east of the small Free State town of Reddersburg. The road is in a good condition, and can be traversed in any vehicle, weather permitting. The route via this pass forms a very scenic alternative to the dreary 70 km stretch of the N6 when travelling between Reddersburg and Smithfield, provided that you don’t mind getting a bit of dust on your vehicle. The name, which translates as “Lookout Heights”, no doubt originated during one of the Anglo-Boer wars, as this area experienced a plethora of military action during this period.

 

Olifantspoort is located on the N6, the national road between Bloemfontein and East London, about 20 km north-west of Queenstown. The road is in an excellent condition and can be traversed in any vehicle and in all weather conditions, with the possible exception of when snow falls, which does happen here from time to time. The poort is undoubtedly named after the herds of elephants which once frequented this area; unfortunately, this is no longer the case, and these giant pachyderms are today restricted to some of the larger game reserves, like the Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth.

 

Janspoort is a very minor tar pass located on the R58 between Burgersdorp and Venterstad near the northern border of the Eastern Cape. It is virtually the only structure to break the monotony of this otherwise featureless road. The surface is in a good condition, probably because there is very little traffic, and can be driven in any vehicle without problems. We have been unable to establish the identity of the “Jan” that this pass was named after, or why he was important enough for this pass to bear his name, but we can be fairly certain that he was a farmer in the area, or an important personage from one of the Anglo-Boer wars.

 

Fincham’s Neck is a minor gravel road pass located just to the south of Queenstown in the Eastern Cape. Getting to the pass from the northern side is relatively easy, but the approach from the south involves a number of twists and turns on corrugated gravel roads. The pass is named after George Thornton Zacharias Charles Fincham, who was born in Roydon, Norfolk in 1814. George emigrated to South Africa and acquired a farm in the Queenstown district in 1858, which he named after his birthplace. The farm is located on the eastern side of the pass. George died in 1889 at the age of 74, and is buried in a private cemetery on the farm itself.

 

Elandsberg Pass is located on the N6 just to the south of the historic town of Aliwal North, which straddles the border between the Eastern Cape and Free State provinces. The road has been beautifully engineered, is in an excellent condition, and should not present problems for any vehicle in all weather conditions, provided that the speed limit is adhered to. The pass is named after the imposing mountain which dominates the skyline on the western side. It is one of at least nine passes which contain within their title a reference to the Eland, the largest of the southern African antelope and which was, and still is, commonly found throughout the country.

 

This tough gravel road pass is located entirely within the Grootwater Nature Reserve near Lephalale (formerly Ellisras) in the Limpopo Province, but it is a public road and no restrictions have been applied. It is very long (18 kilometres) and difficult, and could take between 45 and 90 minutes to traverse, depending on your vehicle and your level of experience. It would probably be possible to travel the route in a high-clearance vehicle from east to west, but the opposite direction would require the use of a 4x4. The pass has gained a reputation as a bike killer, and adventure motorcyclists are advised to apply extreme caution and common sense if they attempt this route. Avoid this pass entirely in wet weather.

 

Barrowfield Pass is a long gravel road pass located in north-western KwaZulu-Natal which derives its name from a farm located near the northern end. The road is in a good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, weather dependent. Together with its sister pass, Mollshoogte, which runs parallel to it on the western side, it forms a shorter and more scenic route from the N11 near Ingogo over the escarpment to Wakkerstroom, when approaching from the south. Beautiful views over the valley formed by the many rivers that cascade off the mountains in this area are presented, as well as an opportunity to visit the out-of-the-way and relatively unknown Zaaihoek Dam.

 

Oom Louis Se Hoogte is a minor gravel pass located on a connecting road between the P213 and the R34 near Memel in the Free State. It has mediocre statistics, being just 2.5 km long and with a height gain of 73 metres, but it does summit at 1802 metres AMSL, putting it well above the snowline. The road is in a fairly good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, weather dependent. The pass is named after Oom Louis Vorster, a previous occupant of the farm “Sweet Valley”, which is situated on the western side of the pass.

 

This short pass is located on the R62 just to the north-east of the popular town of Barrydale. It should not be confused with the Thomas Bain built Tradouw Pass to the south of Barrydale, nor with the Op de Tradouw Pass which lies to the west of the town.

The well engineered pass, which has an average gradient of 1:19 and never gets steeper than 1:11, offers lovely views over the Barrydale valley and surrounding farms. Do stop at the viewsite which is about halfway down the descent, but indicate your intentions of turning  off the R62 early as this road often gets very busy.

Watch out for the speed restrictions and the speed changes rapidly from 80 kph to 60 kph just as you enter the final right hand bend into the main road. There are often radar traps set up here. Don't rush through Barrydale. Explore the village and savour the country food, hospitality and history that abounds here.

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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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