This hidden poort is well off the beaten track yet not that far from main routes and towns. It's located along the east-west axis and approximately 5 km north of the R407 between Prince Albert and Klaarstroom. This is a typical farm road that carries very low traffic volumes, so you will enjoy a sense of isolation and tranquility.
As is the case with all gravel roads, be prepared for punctures, and expect corrugations (depending on when last rain fell or maintenance took place). Livestock on the road is also an ever present danger.
We have not physically driven this poort ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps. The possibility exists that you might encounter locked farm gates. Make sure you have sufficient fuel to backtrack.
Basterspoort is about as minor a poort as what a poort can get. It is just 1,9 km long and only has a 12m altitude variance. It's located on a farm track which is barely discernable on the satellite imagery close to the border between the Western and Northern Cape. This is an official poort as listed on the government 1:50,000 maps. It should not be confused with Bastards Poort about 80 km further south.
The road follows the valley of a natural poort along the south-western side of a mountain named Beesberg. (Cattle Mountain) and connects a few remote farms. It is possible to drive from the R381 to the R356 using this road and a combination of other roads. There is a possibility that this road (and others) might be gated and locked, so if you're an uber pass hunter, drive here at your own risk and make sure you have enough fuel in case you have to retrace your route.
We have not physically driven this pass ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps.
This is an official pass as logged on the government maps, but when you drive it, you will wonder which cartographer had the courage to name this road a pass as there is very little that resembles a real mountain pass, other than it's vertical profile. Despite its very long length of 18,7 km and a respectable altitude variance of 286m, it only has 10 bends, corners and curves and none of them exceeds 30 degrees radius.
What you will enjoy is a feeling of remoteness in the dense Addo bush and the possibility of spotting game. This pass will only be driven by the more serious pass enthusiast. The usual Eastern Cape cautionaries apply of corrugations, and loose gravel on corners as well as livestock and pedestrians on the road.
This is one of many poorts in the mountainous region between Steytlerville and Willowmore in the Eastern Cape. It runs along the NW/SE axis and is unusual in that it is much wider than most poorts in South Africa at between 1,2 and 1,4 km. Topographically it looks much more like a valley than a poort. In addition it doesn't display the one key element of all poorts in that there is no river bisecting it.
It's an official poort, so it gets indexed here, regardless of how small or insignificant it might appear. It's 4,5 km long and displays an altitude variance of 68m producing an average gradient of 1:66 with the steepest section just east of the summit, measuring in at 1;14.
Wesselsnek is a minor gravel road pass located just off the main route between Ladysmith and Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal. It is mentioned in numerous accounts of the Second Anglo-Boer War, and both the pass itself and the railway station occupied key strategic positions during this conflict. The area is perhaps best known for the Battle of Elandslaagte, which is a small village and station located just to the south of Wesselsnek. The road is in a good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, except perhaps in wet weather.
This very small poort is located in an east-west running mountain range 22 km north-east of Willowmore (as the crow flies). The poort lies on private farm land, but a polite request to drive the little poort will be granted by the farm owner. Please close any farm gates. At 1,2 km, this poort is very short but nontheless displays typical poort characteristics as it crosses the small stream once near the northern end, then follows the western bank till the turn-around point, where you have to retrace your route back to the farmstead. The road is rough and very basic and not suitable for cars lacking ground clearance. This poort will typically only be driven by the more serious pass hunter. For the rest, cyber drive it here and forget about it.
This is a complex contour road offering four small passes along its 27 km length. The road generally remains at the 2600m contour level and the vast majority of the route comprises contour road driving as it follows the shapes of the hills and buttresses. The route is doable in a high clearance 4x2 with diff-lock, but when things get muddy or snowy, it is definitely a 4x4 route. Although the road gets quite rough in places, these don't last long and most of this route is Grade 1 to 2. The road connects the Tiffindell Ski Resort in the west with the Tenahead Mountain Lodge in the east, and provides a shorter, but slower alternative to the Naudes Nek Pass. Beyond Tenahead Lodge, the road connects at the Naudes Nek lookout point at 2500m ASL.
Although we have named this route the TTT (Tiffindell-Tenahead Traverse) which aptly describes the purpose of the road, this is a more modern take on its routing. It's also referred to by the locals by three other names: The Cairntoul Road (named after a farm on the eastern side of the traverse); Die Patrollie Pad (The Patrol Road) and Die Grenspad (the Border Road). The road has been used for many years to patrol stock theft into Lesotho. There are several small patrol huts, linked with radio sets, which can be seen along the route. These are occupied by 'young local herdsmen' who keep an eye on the hillsides and relay any suspicious activity to the main SAPS base at Cairntoul, from where the heavyweights are dispatched on horseback or by 4x4.
The Richtersveld National Park plays host to six official passes and poorts. The Swartpoort is easily the easiest of the six in terms of terrain and gradient and provides a gentle introduction to this stunning mountain desert with its harsh and rocky landscape, sandy plains and absence of plant life - or so it seems to the first time visitor, but to the more astute observer there is a whole world of succulents that thrive in this dry climate, if you take the trouble to look properly.
The Swartpoort is an easy meander along a sandy plain amongst some mountain ridges which display black coloured rocks, hence the name, Swartpoort. The poort starts soon after entering the national park at the Sendelingdrif main gate.
Bastard Nek (also sometimes referred to as Bastersnek) is a fairly obscure gravel road pass, situated near Mokopane in the Limpopo province. The road is badly maintained, and the use of a high clearance vehicle is strongly recommended. As with so many of the other gravel road passes in Limpopo, we also issue a soft sand cautionary for adventure bikers. As you approach this pass from the north, you are faced with a daunting array of cliffs which form the Limpopo escarpment, but the road itself follows a natural cleft up through the mountains, and it climbs at a fairly mild average gradient of just 1:22 over the length of the pass.
The Jan Phillips Mountain Road (or more correctly Jan Phillips Bergpad) runs along the eastern flank of the famous Paarlberg Mountain, approximately 3/4 of its height and mainly along the 300m contour - and provides access to the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve, Meulwater picnic site and a vast number of hiking and mountain bike trails at the summit of the mountain. Jan Phillips was a respected wagon maker in the town in the 1800's. It's a fairly long gravel road of 10,8 km that starts and ends at either end of the town of Paarl.
It's an easy enough drive for any vehicle, but the road is quite narrow in places. If you comply with the 30 kph speed limit (which very few people do) you will not have any problems. Be wary of corrugations, which can easily cause loss of control. We recommend tyre deflation to 1.4 bar before driving this route.
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.