Rasfonteinpoort (R61)

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One of the cuttings along Rasfonteinpoort One of the cuttings along Rasfonteinpoort - Photo: Trygve Roberts

This lovely little poort comes as something of a surprise when driving along the R61 between Tarkastad and Cradock after many kilometres of flat Karoo driving. It only takes 4 minutes to drive it and the gradients are gentle, so typical of a poort. Lovely sandstone formations are visible during the second part of the descent and there is one well designed layby worth stopping at at the halfway point at the apex of a big right hand bend at the confluence of the two streams.

The poort is named after the Rasfontein farm over which land it traverses and is approximately midpoint between the Karoo towns of Tarkastad and Cradock. There is a blanket speed limit of 80 kph throughout the length of the poort, which is a sensible speed to cope with all the bends which come thick and fast during the lower part of the poort.

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[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

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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) drive west from Tarkastad on the tarred R61 towards Cradock for 34 km to arrive at the northern start of the poort.

To approach from the south, head north-east out of Cradock (first on the N10) for 2 km, then turn left onto the R61/Tarkastad for 39 km to arrive at the southern start of the poort.

Pass Description: The poort begins at it's northern end and summit point of 1148m ASL at a small cutting followed immediately by a left hand bend of 25 degrees. The gradient picks up quickly to 1:15 as the first part of the descent commences.

Summit view RasfonteinpoortLooking south from the summit / Photo: Trygve Roberts

The road traverses two farms. The more northerly farm is Roberts Kraal which borders on the Rasfontein farm to the south. The original name was actually Raasfontein and over time the second 'a' was dropped to suit the local tongue. The original name Raasfontein translates into Noise or noisy fountain, whereas Rasfontein would translate into Race Fountain (as in racial). The first translation is much more plausible.

This section follows the eastern bank of a small stream for 1.2 km where the stream forms a confluence with the bigger Vlekpoortrivier. This is also the steepest part of the poort at a gradient of 1:13. At this spot, there is an attractive layby which is the only safe place to pull off the road and enjoy the beauty of the rock formations.

After the layby, the more interesting part of the poort can be enjoyed, where the road is shaped into a series of gentle S-curves as the road follows the shape of the Vlekpoortrivier remaining on its north-western flank. At the 1.6 km mark, the road bends through a wide 80 degree bend into the south-west. Suddenly the sides of the poort open up revealing a wide expanse of Karoo. The poort ends at the 2.7 km point at an altitude of 1082m adjacent to the entrance to the Rasfontein farm. Continue for a durther 42 km to reach the town of Cradock. 

Fact File:


S31.984728 E25.984276


S31.984728 E25.984276


S32.002607 E25.976537














2.7 km




4 minutes


80 kph


Tar (R61)






Tarkastad (34 km)

Route Map:

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||Click to download: Rasfonteinpoort (R61)  (Note - This is a .kmz file which can be opened in Google earth and most GPS software systems)

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