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Mountain Passes

This beautiful pass is cut into the side of a mountain, and angles down from a high plateau in the New England area to terminate at the historic Loch Bridge over the Kraai River. This part of the world is famous for its wonderful scenery, and in this case the pass also offers up spectacular views of the reverses and the rail bridge belonging to the now-defunct railway that was built through this gorge.

The road is in a mostly good condition and is suitable for all vehicles, except perhaps in very wet weather. The pass itself is fairly substantial, with a length of 3.6 km and a height difference of 172 metres. “Tier” translated from Afrikaans means “Tiger”, but, as everyone knows, there are no tigers in Africa. The word was often used in days gone by as a name for a leopard, so a correct translation of the pass name would be “Leopard Cliff Pass”.

The African Buffalo must have once been very plentiful in South Africa, and the name of this dangerous bovine is used in various original place names across the length and breadth of the country. Buffelsnek, Buffelsfontein, Buffelspoort, and Buffelskloof are all very common names. This Buffelspoort is located near the northern border of the North West province, close to the Borakalalo National Park, and should not be confused with another poort of the same name near Rustenburg.

The road is in a fairly good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, but care should be exercised after heavy weather. Because of the dense vegetation, the poort does not offer much from a scenic point of view, but it does make for a very pleasant, if somewhat lonely, drive through the countryside.

Although dwarfed by the many huge passes in this area, Grondnek is in fact a fairly significant pass, with a height difference of 112 metres and a length of 4.3 kilometres. Despite its name, which when translated from Afrikaans means Ground or Gravel Neck, the pass is tarred and is suitable for all vehicles in most weather conditions, but a summit altitude of 1997 metres ASL means that it is sometimes subject to snowfalls in winter. Located on the very scenic R58 between Lady Grey and Barkly East in the Eastern Cape highlands, the pass offers up spectacular views of the towering sandstone mountains, rolling meadows, fast-flowing rivers and isolated farmsteads that abound along this route.

The P1706 route offers far superior scenery to the well known R62 tourist route - especially the straight and often boring section between Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn. This back road offers multiple options and several small passes, each distinctly different to the other. The Kruisrivierpoort is the first of these passes when driving from west to east.

The pass is quite short at 2.2 km and only has an altitude variance of 134m, but what it lacks in vital statistics, it more than makes up for in attractive scenery and lots of tight corners. The average gradient is 1:16 but several sections get as steep as 1:6. The settlement at Kruisrivier after the eastern side of the poort, plays host to a number of artists and crafters and is a recommended stopping point.

Cautionaries: Be aware that this road is very narrow in places (single width) and it might be necessary to reverse back to a wider spot to allow safe passing. The rule of the road is to give way to ascending vehicles.

Amandelhoogte (“Almond Heights”) is located on the tarred R58 between Aliwal North and Lady Grey in the Eastern Cape highlands. The pass itself is very minor and would not be noticed by most people as they drive along this very scenic stretch of road, as it consists of only one shallow corner with a height difference of just 34 metres.

Magnificent views of the cordon of mountains which surround Lady Grey are presented from the summit when travelling from west to east, providing a preview of the plethora of huge gravel passes which abound in this area. The name is popular in several places in South Africa, with the primary word Amandel being used in at least four passes spread around South Africa.

 

Beestekraalnek is a fairly minor pass located on the N6 between Bloemfontein and East London, close to the southern border of the Free State near Aliwal North. The pass is 5.8 km long and only has four bends along the entire route, all of which have a gentle radius and are easily negotiated at the speed limit of 100 kph.

The road is in an excellent condition with wide shoulders, and will not present any problems in all weather conditions. The scenery along the pass offers wide-open vistas of the Free State plains, with flat-topped koppies dotted randomly about the landscape, and the Drakensberg and Maluti mountains in the far distance off to the east.

This relatively unknown pass is located on the farm road designated MR00363 between the Swartberg Pass and Calitzdorp, just to the east of the Kruisrivier settlement. It offers marvellous scenery with the mighty Swartberg Range looming ever present to the north. With a moderate length of 4.7 km and an equally modest altitude gain of 156m it produces an easy average gradient of 1:30 but there are a few sections that do ramp up 1:8.

There are a number of passes to the north-east of Calitzdorp which mainly follow the many river courses that flow down from the Swartberg Mountains. These include the Kruisrivierpoort, Huis se Hoogte, and Coetzees Poort. There are a number of cautionaries for this pass, despite it's modest statistics. These inlclude some very sharp corners, steep drop offs, loose gravel on the corners, ruts and washaways as well as a strong possibility of finding livestock on the road.

This is the story of our first official tour of the Ben 10 Eco Challenge from 21st to 24th March, 2019.

We take you from the roots of the conceptualisation of the event through each of the 4 days as well as the epilogue.

Every person planning on doing the challenge should read this story and watch the four piece video set, which shows just how difficult it can get when nature decides to turn against you, and how quickly an adventure can turn into a disaster. It also showcases the incredible scenery and wonderful people that live in the area. Soak it all in.

The 2019 Ben 10 Official Tour - The Ultimate Adventure


Chapter 1- Prologue.

The Golden Highway Pass connects the old mining ghost town of Eureka City, high up on a plateau of the Makhonjwa Mountains, with the Sheba Mine located in a valley far below. The end point is very close to the entrance of the famous Bray’s Golden Quarry. Originally just an unnamed track, the pass acquired its name when a local builder was contracted to provide concrete paving strips on some of the route. The story goes that he mistakenly used unprocessed ore extracted from the mine as part of his building mix, and that therefore an unknown amount of raw gold ended up as part of the road surface! 

There are various routes that connect the De Kaap Valley with Eureka City, but all of these require the use of a 4x4 vehicle with low-range capability. They range from a Grade 2 to a Grade 3, but can quickly deteriorate to a Grade 4 or even a Grade 5 in wet weather. The Golden Highway Pass itself is not difficult (mainly because of the concrete paving), but fallen trees and boulders can block the pass at any time, so users should be prepared for this eventuality. There are numerous hairpin bends, at least four of which require a 3-point and perhaps even a 5-point turn, depending on the vehicle.

This is an impressive pass by any standards. At 7.9 km long it climbs a whopping 705m producing a stiff average gradient of 1:11 with the steepest parts reaching 1:6. Crammed within that distance are no less than 59 bends, corners and curves of which 5 are full hairpins and another 6 exceed 90 degrees.

The scenery is majestic and changes perpetually as the road winds its way up to the Waboomsberg summit point, to end at a cluster of telecoms towers. You will be treated to 250 degree views of the Warm Bokkeveld and making up the other 110 degrees are views of the Gydo Plateau.

Whilst the road is 98% gravel, there are 8 short tarred sections (with the odd pothole) ensuring reasonable traction on the steeper sections. Besides the wonderful views, you are also likely to spot small antelope like steenbok, duikers and klipspringers and for the birders, you are almost guaranteed to spot a few raptors, sunbirds and other LBJ's.

The pass falls entirely on private land and permission is required (at a fee) to drive the route (Contact numbers lower down). It is a cul-de-sac, so the whole route has to be retraced back to the start. This route is a viable alternative to Matroosberg in the snow season, as the road condition is far superior and holds very few real dangers.

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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.
 

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.

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