Mpumalanga

This pass is straightforward with no sharp curves or steep gradients. It is of significant historical value in that this was the scene of a fierce battle during the Anglo-Boer war. The Battle of Allemansnek took place on 11th June 1900 between the Boer forces and the British army under General Buller. After this battle the Boers, fearing that they would be surrounded, retreated from Laingsnek. Buller occupied both Volksrust and Charlestown.

Bakenkop Pass is named after the prominent mountain near its western extremity, which is easily identifiable whilst driving the pass itself from the host of radio towers on its summit. The route forms part of one of the original trails which bisect the lower section of the Drakensberg escarpment, and is located just to the south-east of Sabie, running in a generally west-east configuration towards Kiepersol and Hazyview. The gravel track is extremely rough and rutted, and we strongly recommend the use of a high-clearance vehicle, or a 4x4 during or after wet weather. This is logging country, and the road traverses both pine and eucalyptus plantations for its entire length, also offering up some splendid views over the Lowveld.

 

Bergvliet Pass lies on the tarred R536 route between Hazyview and Sabie in the east of the Mpumalanga province. Named after the Bergvliet plantation through which it traverses, this pass forms the most curvy and scenic part of the “Infamous 22”. This stretch of road between Sabie and the Kiepersol turnoff is 22 km long (hence the name), and is acknowledged as being one of the best motorcycling roads in South Africa, if not the world.

The regional authorities are well aware of this, and the road surface is maintained in a pristine condition, in stark contrast to the other half of the R536 on the Hazyview side, and the Kiepersol road, which are riddled with potholes and broken tar. If you are driving this route in a car, bakkie or SUV, pay close attention and be on the lookout for motorcycles which could encroach onto the wrong side of the road, on any day of the week.

Take a 23 km drive along the rim of South Africa's most spectacular canyon - The Blyderivier Poort or nowadays known as the Molatse Canyon - and marvel at the scenic wonders the poort has on offer - like the Three Rondavels, God's Window, the Pinnacle and Bourke's Luck Potholes. The road (R532) connects the northern towns accessible from the R36 (Hoedspruit, Burgersfort and Orighstad) with the southern towns of Graskop and Sabie. There is a significant altitude gain of 480 vertical metres, but due to the length of the pass, the average gradient is a mild 1:47. The steepest gradient you will experience is on the northern sector, where it gets to 1:14.

This beautiful, long, tarred pass winds it's down the escarpment on the R533 between Graskop in the east and Pilgrim's Rest in the west. The scenery is breathtaking, with forests, waterfalls, ghost towns, old mines and birdlife in abundance. This is a fairly steep pass, especially on the eastern side with gradients around 1:10.

With 59 bends, corners and curves, drivers need to stay alert and be particularly wary of oncoming vehicles appearing on the wrong side of the road on some of the blind corners. The single, continuous barrier line is badly faded which adds to some drivers essentially ignoring the overtaking restrictions. Having no safety shoulders and dense vegeattion which grows right up to the tarmac, adds to the dangers. There are a number of cautionaries for this pass which include a fairly narrow, shoulderless surface with the occasional pothole, some extremely sharp corners, negative banking, rain, dense mountain mists as well as heavy trucks and minibus taxis that use the road. To add to this the pass offers hardly any opportunities for overtaking. Drivers who end up behind slow moving trucks, tend to become frustrated and end up taking huge risks, which can results in a head on collision. There are very few places to stop safely.

It is almost impossible to determine the origin of the name of this pass, as Botha is a very popular surname in South Africa; it is in fact the second most common European surname after Jacobs. It has been established, however, that the pass name dates back to at least the 1880s, as there are some references to the pass in the chronicles of the 1st Anglo-Boer War, and this is also approximately when the nearby town of Barberton was founded.

This beautiful pass, which is not particularly well-known, is located on the tarred R38 route between Barberton and Badplaas, and offers up magnificent panoramic vistas over the De Kaap Valley from its many viewpoints. It gains a strapping 547 metres in altitude, and is nearly 12 kilometres long. The road is in an excellent condition, but it can be hazardous when covered by thick mist or rain which is common at certain times of the year.

The Bouldersberg Pass, together with it's sister pass, the Mpageni 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 descends 454 vertical meters over a distance of 8,7 km to produce a stiff average gradient of 1:19, with some sections as steep as 1:14. The pass terminates near the intersection with the tarred R38 to Barberton. 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. This pass should be reviewed with the Mpageni Pass as they virtually run back to back. The road parallels the Crocodile river for most of its length.

This short, gravel pass forms part of the Rooi Ivoor 4x4 route which includes another unofficial pass - The Doornhoek Pass (also featured on this site). Together these two passes form the ascent and descent towards a deep valley to the north. The Buffelskloof Pass traverses a mountain to the north of the Buffelskloof Dam and offers many viewing options over the dam, which get better as altitude is gained. This road can only be driven with a high clearance vehicle or 4x4 with low range. Access is restricted to permit holders. The route is gated along the lower parts of the Buffelskloof dam road as well as in the north at the Doornkloof farm. For more information on the full 4x4 route, please Google Rooi Ivoor 4x4

This as a secondary gravel road in the vicinity of some of the famous attractions of the Lowveld, like the Blyde River Canyon (Molatse Canyon), Pilgrim's Rest, Bourkes Luck Potholes - a charming world of a bygone era, loaded with pioneering history.




This 5 km long pass is fairly steep with gradients of up to 1:10. It connects Lydenburg in the north-east with Machadodorp in the south-west.The pass gains 218m in altitude and summits at 1531m ASL. It holds a good safety record and the curves are gentle and comfortable. The pass offers expansive views over the Kwena Basin and paragliders are often seen here using the lift off the ridges to stay aloft.

Cautionary : At the time of filming the R36 in its entirety is riddled with potholes to the point of being dangerous to drive on. This includes both the passes on this road - Witklip se Hoogte and Chomse se Hoogte. The road is scheduled for reconstruction in 2016/2017.

 

 

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter with News and Updates from Mountain Passes South Africa

Mountain Passes South Africa

Our website is 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.

Subscribe to our Site

Subscribe for only R250 a year (or R180 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.

Register

Latest articles

 

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...