Mountain Passes

This particular Ouberg Pass (there are another three - two in the Northern Cape: one near Sutherland and the other near Gifberg with the fourth one being in the Eastern Cape near Graaff-Reinet) is a well-designed 7.3 km gravel pass linking the town of Montagu with the Karoo highlands and remote towns like Sutherland, Matjiesfontein and Touwsrivier as well as providing an access route to the fabulous Anysberg Nature Reserve. It is a perennial favourite with offroad clubs and touring bikers, but due to its good design and reasonable gradients, is suitable for all vehicles. The upper part of the pass near the summit is sometimes mapped and referenced as Koppie se Nek or Tolletjie se Poort. Both of these names are not proper passes or poorts and they fall within the geographical range and distance limits of the Ouberg Pass.

The relatively unknown Joubertspoort Pass is an 11.8km farm road, close to Montagu in the Western Cape, but well worth exploring. It takes you past quaint little farm labourers' cottages and green pastures to the head of the poort from where it is 4x4 only territory up a steep jeep track. Once you reach the last farm, a rough jeep track winds up into the mountains and exits about halfway up the famous Ouberg Pass. This last section is strictly for 4x4 vehicles only --- good ground clearance and low range is essential! It provides magnicicent views in complete tranquility and isolation. It is best tackled with a minimum of two vehicles.

 

The Cogmanskloof Pass connects the towns of Ashton and Montagu. Its entire 6.5 km stretches through a majestic landscape of towering rock formations and a colourful pastoral patchwork, which delights the eye and invigorates the heart! Renamed after the popular Cape Colonial Secretary, John Montagu, the town's original name of Cogmanskloof is where this pass took its name from.

 

Escape the busy drudge of the N7 traffic by taking the 15,7 km long Nieuwoudts Pass, known also as the Cederberg Pass. It links the Algeria Valley in the southern Cederberg, with the coastal hinterland to the west via the N7. Lying between the two small farming towns of Clanwillliam and Citrusdal, this gravel road has patches of poor surfacing and is often badly corrugated, which requires requires slow, cautious driving. Despite the rough surfaces, the gradients are seldom worse than 1:10. The views are jaw-dropping - especially on the eastern side along the Algeria valley. Watch your speed as there are some dangerous corners with unprotected and steep drop-offs.

The 4.7 km, gravel Uitkyk Pass marries the northern and southern Cederberg Wilderness areas. Of medium length and fairly steep, this pass is true to its name, which translates as 'Look Out', providing endless vistas of the unique Cederberg mountains, with the Algeria Valley beckoning down below with it's beautiful grassed campsites and refreshing rock pools. The pass is sometimes listed as the Cederberg Pass and the old pass (which runs up the eastern side of the ravine) which it replaced, is listed as the "Old Uitkyk Pass". To add to the confusion, the sign board at the foot of the pass reads UITKYK PASS. Take your pick! There is another Uitkyk Pass in Mpumalanga, so 'Cederberg Pass' would have been a wiser choice. Some maps also show the Nieuwoudts Pass as the Cederberg Pass.  There is another pass on the Wupperthal Road further to the north-east also called Uitkyk Pass on older maps, which has had a sensible name change to Hoek-se-berg Pass.

Travelling on an unmarked gravel road through the Karoo, a seemingly endless herd of Angora goats forced us to stop the car, and allow the ancient farm scene unfolding before us to take us back in time...  Whilst this is not a mountain pass, we have added this page in as a general interest item. This road does not form part of our national passes database.

In this video clip, the entire herd of goats was controlled by the farmer in a 'bakkie' with single Border Collie ensuring there were no strays and at end of this 2 km long goat herd, two goat herders ensured they all entered a gate to a new pasture.

This was the first road between George and Oudtshoorn. The Montagu Pass was opened in 1848, having taken 3 years to build by some 250 convicts at a cost of 36,000 Pounds Sterling. It lays claim to being the oldest, unaltered pass still in use in South Africa and covers 17,1 kms of magnificently scenic narrow, gravel road driving, ascending from the tiny hamlet of Herold, on the northern side of the Outeniqua Mountains up and over the summit and then all the way down to the outskirts of George.

The road compresses 126 bends corners and curves into its length and gradients reach a maximum of 1:6. The road is suitable for all vehicles in fair weather, but please drive slowly and due to many sections being only single width (especially on the southern side) it might be necessary to reverse back to a wider point to allow passing oncoming traffic.

The pass was built to replace the highly dangerous and extremely difficult Cradock Pass, which still exists today, but as a tough hiking trail. The pass was named after John Montagu, who was the colonial secretary of the Cape at the time.

The mysteriously named Phantom Pass is the final pass on the Garden Route's string of "Seven Passes" between George and Knysna. The 7,4 km of narrow, gravel road descends to the famously picturesque Knysna River Lagoon, and finds its end-point at the N2. The other six passes are listed at the bottom of this page for easy reference and access.

 

Lying 6th in the string of 'Seven Passes' between George and Knysna, the narrow, gravel Homtini Pass covers 5 km of wonderfully scenic driving, descending to the river from which it takes its name, and ascends up the eastern side to terminate at the Rheenendal Timber Mill. The name is apparently of Khoi origin and means either "mountain honey" or "difficult passage". This pass is also sometimes known as the Goukamma River Pass.

This is the biggest of the passes at 5 km and presents an altitude variance of 153m. You will be kept busy as the driver, as there are 45 bends, corners and curves of which there are 3 corners greater than 120 degrees and i extremely sharp hairpin.

Of the passes on the 7 Passes Road that Thomas Bain built, this was the pass that presented him with the most difficult technical challenges and might well have been the point where his frustration levels boiled over which led to the now famous argument with his brother in law, Adam de Smidt, when the pair disagreed vehemently about the routing of the 7 Passes Road. The family argument eventually led to a 'no speak' scenario for the rest of their living years.

Karatara Pass is found on the 'Seven Passes Road' immediately after the forestry village of the same name. Like all gravel road passes in rainy regions, the usual cautionary of 'slippery when wet' applies. This road is usually corrugated, which can cause loss of traction and control, particularly on corners with non 4x4 vehicles. This was one of the easier of the seven passes in terms of construction and technical difficulties.

Like all of the preceding passes along the western approach, this pass has simialar vital statistics to the previous four passes, with a length of 2,6 km and a slightly smaller altitude variance of 62m. The vertical profile is once again the classic inverted shape of a pass that starts at a high point, then descneds down to a river crossing, only to rise back up again to virtually the same altitude as the starting point.

The bridge is almost a carbon copy of the Hoogekraal bridge in its design and also carries two lanes of traffic.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter with News and Updates from Mountain Passes South Africa

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.

Subscribe to our Site

Subscribe for only R250 a year (or R180 for 6 months), and get full access to our website including the videos, the full text of all mountain passes articles, fact-file, interactive map, directions and route files.

Register

Latest articles

 

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.

View Master Orientation Map...