Zoetendals Poort

Read 420 times
Armadillo Girdled Lizard Armadillo Girdled Lizard - Photo: Cape Nature

This scenic drive provides an interesting and easy traverse of the poort that has been carved out by the Trakarivier. Although the road is virtually flat with only a 20m altitude variance over the 4,1 km length, it does include 4 crossings of the same river. For 99% of the year, these bridgeless crossings are very easy as the river bed is usually bone dry. The road forms a complex network of farm roads that service the remote farms west and north of Willowmore through a range of ridges and hills 15 km north the Swartberg mountains. It's easy to get lost here and many of the intersections have no signage. Travel well prepared with waypoints pre-plotted in your GPS.

Cautionaries: Like all gravel roads, conditions can change very quickly during or after heavy rain. Rivers in the Karoo are universally shallow and wide and prone to flash floods. If you're trapped inside a poort during a flash flood, it could prove to be life threatening. There are many similar poorts in this region and most of them display the same geographical tendencies.

This is a provisional video consisting entirely of Google earth 3D animations, designed to orienteer drivers with the salient features of the pass. This pass will be filmed in real time in the near future. Scroll down to view the map & video. It is recommended to watch this video in HD. (Click on the "quality" button on the lower taskbar of the video screen and select 720HD.) Wait a few seconds for the video to display.....

[Video cover photo: Karoo sand snake / SAReptiles]

FULL-SCREEN MODEMODE: Click PLAY, then pass your mouse over the bottom right corner of the video screen. The outline of a square will appear. Clicking on it will toggle Full Screen Mode. Press ESC to return to the original format.

Note: Google Earth software reads the actual topography and ignores roads, cuttings, tunnels, bridges and excavations. The Google Earth vertical-profile animation generates a number of parallax errors, so the profile is only a general guide of what to expect in terms of gradients, distance and elevation. The graph may present some impossible and improbably sharp spikes, which should be ignored.

 Digging into the details:

Getting there: To approach from the north (as we have produced it), head west out of Willowmore on the R407 for 15 km and turn right (north) onto a secondary gravel road at GPS S33.267499 E23.325066. Now drive through the Leeukloof Pass still heading north, but after Leeukloof the road swings into the west and remains in that direction for 30 km till you arrive at a T-Junction at GPS S33.202990 E23.044738, where you must turn left (south). Drive south for 7 km to arrive at another T-Junction at GPS S33.254652 E23.066787. Turn right (east) and drive east, then south for 2,5 km to arrive at the northern start of the poort. There are several other approaches possible from the north, but the above set of directions are the most likely approach.

Leopard TortoiseLeopard Tortoise / Photo: SANBI

To approach from the south, head west out of Willowmore on the R407 for 38 km and turn right (north) at GPS S33.346477 E23.123136. Drive north-west for 7 km to arrive at the southern start of the poort.

Poort Description: Starting in the north at the first crossing of the river the road swings through an S-bend (first right, then left) and crosses the Trakarivier for the second time at the 0,7 km mark. It remains on the eastern side of the river till the 1,8 km mark, then recrosses the river for the third time.

This is followed by a short descent to the main farm in the poort, Soetendalspoort (note the farm name had been converted from Dutch to Afrikaans having dropped the Z in favour of an S).

The third and final ridge is crossed at the 2,6 km mark, whereafter the road bends to the right through 80 degrees, where the poort opend up onto a wide plain. The final bend is a 100 degree left hander, which lines the road up for the final crossing of the Trakarivier. On the apex of this bend is the Sans Souci farm on the right.

The poort ends at the 4,1 km point at an altitude of 671m ASL. Continue heading south-east for 7 km to reach the T-Junction with the R407 near Vondeling station. Turn left to go to Willowmore or turn right to head towards Klaarstroom and the N12.

Fact File:


S33.273455 E23.074951


S33.277535 E23.074418


S33.303743 E23.081820














4,1 km




5 minutes


60 kph








Willowmore (48 km)

Route Map:

Use these powerful features to get the best use out of the map:

  • Choose either Map View or Satellite View (overlaid on the map detail.)
  • Zoom in and out; rotate in any direction.
  • Use the Get Route'feature (directly beneath the map): type in your address to get a personalised route straight from where you are to the pass, with time and distance included.
  • Detailed written and printable directions.
  • Drag the 'little orange man' icon onto the pass for a complete 360° tiltable "street view".

From Address:

Route files:

||Click to download: Zoetendals Poort (Note - This is a .kmz file which can be opened in Google earth and most GPS software systems)

More in this category: « Addo Heights Xuka Drift »

Subscribe to our Newsletter

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

Subscribe to our Site

Subscribe for only R350 a year (or R250 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.



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...