Kwaggasnek (D178)

Read 2327 times
A gravel road surrounded by game reserves A gravel road surrounded by game reserves - Photo: Mike Leicester

Although this pass appears to have been named after the now extinct Quagga, which died out in South Africa at the end of the 19th century, it is far more likely that it was named after Burchell’s Zebra, a plains zebra which is often colloquially called the Kwagga. The Quaggas habitat never extended north of the Vaal River, whereas the zebra was, and still is, common in this area. This gravel pass is just 3.3 kms long, and has a mild average gradient of 1:25. The pass and the approach roads are generally in a good condition, and should present no problems for any type of vehicle, weather dependant.

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.....

[On-car video footage supplied by Mike Leicester]

FULL-SCREEN MODE: 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: Starting from Bela-Bela (Warmbaths) at the intersection of Voortrekker Road and Grobler Avenue (S24.885155 E28.290244), travel in a north westerly direction along Grobler Avenue, which, after 550 metres, kinks slightly to the left and changes its name to Robbertson Street. Continue in a north westerly direction along this road, which is designated as the D180, for another 9.9 kms, at which point the road changes from tar to gravel. After another 5.1 kms, you will reach a Y-junction – make sure that you take the right-hand fork. After travelling for 7.2 kms, you will reach another Y-junction – this time you need to make sure that you stay left. The road changes its designation at this point to the D178, and after another 2.8 kms, at S24.734525 E28.143841, you will reach the southern start point of the pass. The pass can be driven in both directions, so if you do approach Kwaggasnek from the north, please invert the description and the coordinates.

A fairly rough roadA stony gravel road with game fencing on either side / Photo by Mike LeicesterThis pass should be viewed in conjunction with Die Noute pass, which is a little further north, and which will often be driven together.

At the start of the pass the road heads in a westerly direction at a fairly flat gradient, then begins a wide right-hand turn through 70 degrees towards the north. The road starts to ascend at a mild average gradient of 1:20 through a very gentle S-bend until the summit is reached 2.2 kms from the start. At this point, the road flattens out for approximately 500 metres, then makes a slight left-hand turn and the descent begins, sloping at an average gradient of 1:13 until the end of the pass is reached at the 3.3 km mark. Throughout the length of the pass, there are private game reserves on both the left and right-hand sides of the road, so keep an eye out for animals.

The Spa at Bela BelaThe indoor spa at Bela-Bela / Photo by saao.ac.zaBela-Bela (which is Tswana for “boiling-boiling” or “the pot that boils”) was previously known as “Warmbaths” in English or “Warmbad” in Afrikaans. All of these names relate to the geothermic hot springs which occur in the region and around which the town was built.

Going back in history, the Voortrekker Carl Van Heerden originally named the first farm that he established here as “Het Bad” (which would translate to “Has a Bath” in English). In 1873, the Transvaal government bought the land and established a resort called Hartingsburg, named after the prominent Dutch biologist Pieter Harting. The British occupied the town during the Anglo-Boer war, and renamed it to Warmbaths in 1903. The post-apartheid South African government changed the name to Bela-Bela on the 14th of June 2002.

The springs themselves can reach a temperature of 53 degrees Celsius, and produce about 22,000 litres of water per hour. Multiple mineral and curative properties are claimed, and a range of spas and wellness centres have been established. Today the springs are primarily contained within the Forever Resort in the downtown area, which includes a series of swimming pools and slides.

Besides the springs, there are a number of other attractions in and around Bela-Bela, not least of which are the numerous private game farms in the area, many of which host all of the “Big 5”. The town has a mild climate all year round, and is extremely popular for family holidays, particularly as it is also in a malaria-free region.

[Research and text written by Mike Leicester]

Fact File:


S24.734525 E28.143841


S24.721853 E28.130088


S24.713042 E28.123750














3,3 km




4 minutes


60 kph


Gravel (D178)






Bela-Bela (27 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: Kwaggasnek (Limpopo) (Note - This is a .kmz file which can be opened in Google earth and most GPS software systems)

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...