This short, steep and scenic pass offers outstanding views with weathered rocks, waterfalls, proteas and mountain fynbos in a pristine and virtually untouched part of the Western Cape in it's far northern sector. There are two ways to access the pass. The recommended route is to drive the Gifberg Pass first from Vanrhynsdorp and descend via this (Ouberg) pass providing a superb 55km loop ending back in Vanrhynsdorp. Allow two and a half hours.
The Ouberg Pass is a much revered gravel road pass by adventure travellers and is questionably the most impressive gravel pass in the Northern Cape. It is an impressive pass with an altitude gain of 820 meters over 10,4 km to produce a stiff average gradient of 1:13 but the steepest parts are at 1:6 - which is steep! It traverses a ridge of the Roggeveld Mountains north-west of the Verlatenkloof Pass (which is on the R354), and summits at 1402m on the upper Karoo plateau and it's a 40 km drive from the summit into Sutherland.
This is a major pass by South African standards and contains 44 bends, corners and curves, which include 8 hairpins and another 4 corners sharper than 90 degrees, as the road snakes its way laboriously down the mountain. Despite the size and scope of this pass, the gradients, although steep, are fairly consistent and the designer plotted a good line, making the pass safe to drive.
There is one large viewsite about 1/4 way down the pass, which provides a safe, level stopping point for many vehicles, where the views are spectacular. The pass does get snow from time to time in which case it should be avoided completely (even in a 4x4) as the drop offs are extreme and unguarded where an uncontrolled slide could spell disaster.
There are several similarly named passes spread around South Africa - at least 4 in the Western and Eastern Cape alone - so make sure you are not heading off to the wrong pass! This Ouberg Pass, or more accurately named the Oudeberg Pass in the more traditional Dutch style, lies 20km north of Graaff Reinet on the R63 tarred secondary road that connects with the town of Murraysburg.
This particular Ouberg Pass (there are another three - one in the Northern Cape near Sutherland and the other near Gifberg (W/Cape) with the fthird being in the Eastern Cape near Graaff-Reinet) is a well-designed 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. It contains 38 bends, corners and curves within its 7,8 km length, with an altitude variance of 497m, producing an average gradient of under 1:16.
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.
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.