Bastersnek has an almost perfectly symmetrical up-and-down profile, but in miniature; the pass only gains a total of 40 metres in height, and is just 1.2 km long. It is situated 11 kilometres from the well-known N1 junction town of Colesberg, on the R369 to Petrusville. The road is tarred through the section where the pass is located, is in a good condition, and can be driven in any vehicle. It is difficult to establish when, how, and after whom the pass is named. Other than the Hunter’s Moon Safari Lodge (private) and the Doornkloof Nature Reserve, there is not much else along this road, so it is best driven as an out-and-back route. A couple of minor skirmishes took place here during the second Anglo-Boer War.
The small pass is also sometimes referred to as Plessispoort or Bastershoek Pass.
The Swaarmoed Pass is located approximately 20 km north-east of Ceres. The name translates from Afrikaans into 'Heavy Courage'. The 16 km long tarred pass descends 629 vertical meters from the summit at 1212 m ASL. It is the favourite access route to the snow fields on the highlands near Klondyke and Erfdeel farms, the latter perhaps better known as Matroosberg with a summit altitude of 2249m ASL - it is also the second highest peak in the Western Cape. (The highest being the Seweweeks Peak in the Swartberg range).
The pass is well engineered with gradients seldom exceeding 1:11 and is suitable for all vehicles. The pass offers excellent views over the Warm Bokkeveld and the vast plains of the Ceres valley surrounded by an amphitheatre of rugged mountains. It does snow on this pass and on the rare occassions that this happens, there will immediately be considerable traffic on this pass and if snow coincides with a weekend, expect chaos as thousands of sightseers flock to the area to see the snow. The pass is the main access route to get to Matroosberg, which is the most popular point to gain access to the snowfields and drive the Grade 3 4x4 route up to the Groothoek Canyon viewsite.
Soutar’s Hill is an official tarred pass located between Nottingham Road and Himeville on the Lower Lotheni Road in KwaZulu-Natal. It isn’t much of a pass, and it pales into insignificance when compared to the next three massive passes which have to be negotiated before Himeville is reached when travelling from east to west. Despite intensive research, we have been unable to establish the identity of the person after whom this pass is named, but, like some many of the other mountains and hills in this area, it is probable that it originated after an important personage related to one of the Anglo-Boer wars.
This pass connects the Free State farming town of Memel via the R34 with the KZN town of Newcastle and straddles the border between the Free State and KZN. The pass starts at the summit altitude of 1809m ASL and descends to 1569m taking you 245 meters down the escarpment and in the process producing a gradient of 1/21 over 5.0 km., which is moderate. There is one U shaped bend halfway down the pass which turns through almost 170 degrees, but the arc is fairly wide, making it fairly safe providing the speed limit is complied with. With a summit altitude not far under the 2000m mark, it does sometimes snow on this pass.
This straight forward north/south traverse over a natural neck is 6.4 km long and climbs 193m producing an average gradient of 1:33. It lies on the tarred R36 between Ohrigstad and Lydenburg, The pass boasts a lofty summit altitude of 1411m but there are no apparent dangers or cautionaries for this pass other than mist at any time of the year and smoke during the fire season. At the time of filming (April 2018) the R36 was in a state of disrepair with patchy tar and many potholes. The pass straddles the border between Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
The aptly-named Skurweberg (“Rough Mountain”) Pass winds its way down the upper Drakensberg escarpment between Machadodorp and Badplaas in Mpumalanga. The pass is much-loved by motorcyclists due to the curvy nature of the road, but it does have one or two corners which can be dangerous at high speed. It is relatively steep with an average gradient of 1:17 and descends a total of 448 metres, but the tarred road surface is good and free of potholes. Keep an eye out for monkeys and baboons, as well as domestic livestock. The pass can be driven in any vehicle and in all weather conditions.
At 17,5 km the Santa Pass is one of the longer passes in South Africa. It is also a high aItitude pass with many sections being above 2000m. It is named after the Santa forestry settlement in the first valley on the western side, through which the pass traverses. It's a tarred pass on the R540 between Dullstroom 15 km to the SW and Lydenberg 45km to the north. The pass descends 396m to produce an average gradient of an easy 1:44 with the steepest parts being at 1:10. There are no warnings or cautionaries for this pass.
The Mpageni Pass, together with it's tandem pass, the Bouldersberg Pass forms the bulk of the old Nelspruit-Kaapmuiden road. It is a narrow tarred road [D286] that traverses the Crocodile Poort Nature Reserve. It climbs 472 vertical meters over a distance of 10,2 km to produce an average gradient of 1:22, with some sections as steep as 1:8.
The pass terminates 2,5 km before the western starting point of the Bouldersberg Pass (after the summit plateau). Watch out for wild animals, especially at night and it should also be noted that there are two control booms, where you have to sign in and out. There is no charge for entry into the reserve, but you will be required to produce your drivers licence and it will be scanned as will your vehicle's licence disc. This is an anti-poaching initiative.
Kranspoort is located on the national N11 road between Groblersdal and Middelburg, very close to the Loskop Dam. The road is in an excellent condition and has been extensively refurbished (construction was completed in late 2017). The pass is nevertheless still considered to be extremely dangerous, and road users should apply due caution and heed the speed limit of 60 kph which applies for the majority of the length of the pass.
The biggest hazards which could be encountered are the mine trucks which use this route, and which could lose their brakes when descending the pass under heavy load. The name is misleading, as this is much more of a pass than a poort, and it is far steeper than one would expect. It comes as somewhat of a surprise after the long flat straight sections on the approaches from both the northern and southern sides.
This long and beautiful pass is one of the hidden gems of the Lowveld and provides an alternative route to Nelspruit to the N4. It joins Nelspruit with Ngodwana at Sappi's massive paper mill and in the process bisects the little mountain top village of Kaapsehoop (originally Kaapschehoop), from which the pass gets its name.
The pass summits at 1653m ASL and ascends from just south-west of Nelspruit, gaining 736m of altitude over 20 kms, producing an average ascent gradient of 1:20 with the steep bits measuring in at 1:10. Stop at the village near the summit and explore the peaceful charm of the free range horses, Anglo-Boer war and mining history, quaint architecture and the walk in the nature reserve. The western descent of 12 km ends at Ngodwana and forms a T-junction with the N4.
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.
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