Koffiehoogte (R532)

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Looking north towards Sabie Looking north towards Sabie - Photo: Trygve Roberts

Koffiehoogte is in reality, an integral part of the triplet passes of Masjiennek, Long Tom and Koffiehoogte, which form a virtually continuous pass between Lydenburg and Sabie. Koffiehoogte is the most easterly of the three and forms the connecting section between Long Tom Pass and the Lowveld town of Sabie.

Whilst this smallest of three passes is often overlooked in favour of its more glamorous sister passes, it is nontheless a substantial pass in its own right, covering a distance of 7,7 km which is well above the national average and displays an impressive altitude gain of 423m producing an average gradient of a stiff 1:18. The road is well engineered with 21 evenly radiused corners including two bends of 170 degrees each.

Add in heavy mining and logging vehicles, dense mountain mists and heavy rain, this pass needs to be taken seriously. Overtaking is difficult due to the many blind corners and almost continuous barrier lines. This in itself creates impatience and some drivers take big risks.

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.)

[Video cover photo: Trygve Roberts]

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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: To drive this pass from north to south in the ascending mode (as we have filmed it), simply head south out of Sabie on the R532. The pass starts at the point where the old railway line underpasses the R532.

To approach from the south, you can approach from Lydenburg via the Masjiennek and Long Tom Passes, or you can approach from Hendriksdal on the R37 via the Hendriksdal Pass.

Waterfall countryWaterfall country! / Photo: Sabie-Info.co.za

We filmed this pass from north to south. As you leave the neat and well manicured town of Sabie, the road overpasses the old railway line then sweeps into a big right hand bend of a full 170 degrees, but the arc is wide and no reduction on speed is necessary. Some outlying houses appear on the right as the last parts of Sabie's suburbia is left behind. There are several intersecting side roads on eiither side, so be aware of slow moving traffic.

After the U-bend, the road straightens out briefly with dense stands of pine smothering the mountainside on the left. There are very few straight sections along this lower part of the pass and soon the road enters the next big left hand bend, which curves through 90 degrees and heads directly south. Look up and the distinctive conical peak of Klein Spitskop appears dead ahead with a hairdo of radio masts. This is an excellent landmark if you are ever feeling a bit disoriented in this densely forested part of Mpumalanga. It's appropriately called Spitskop (one of dozens of like named peaks dotted all over South Africa)

Excellent accommodation optionsBook a guest house and enjoy the Sabie outdoors / Photo: Sabie Star Chalets

A deep ravine is skirted via a 110 degree right hander and the heading reverts into the south-west. The climb gradient is steady at around 1:14 as the road enters a series of easy bends and reaches the north western nose of Spitskop's foothills at the 4,4 km mark, where a much sharper left hand bend of 170 degrees makes an appearance. This one does require a reduction in speed. It also marks approximately the halfway point of the pass.

The views to the right are stunning, with ridge upon ridge of forest clad mountains fading away from dark green to hazy blues, whilst the left hand side presents some deep rocky cuttings, displaying the local geology like an outdoor museum.

This big bend switches the heading halfway around the compass into the south-east via a double set of S-curves until the 6,1 km mark, where another 90 degree fairly sharp right hander, changes the direction into the south-west. A few more easy curves bring the gradient to the steepest at 1:10 as the road levels off briefly just before the intersection of the R37 from the left (east), where the pass officially ends at the 7,7 km mark at an altitude of 1479m.

Elephants at the KNPSabie is close to the Kruger National Park / Photo: WhereToStay

You now have choices and both are excellent. A left turn onto the R37 will take you along the sweeping curves of the Hendriksdal Pass or you can go straight on and immediately begin ascending Mpumalanga's most famous pass - The Long Tom Pass.

As with all high altitide mountain passes, we issue a mist and low visibility cautionary: This part of the Drakensberg escarpment is frequently shrouded in cloud and mist, which creates very dangerous situations for motorists. If it is unavoidable to drive in mist/fog/cloud, accepted 'best practice' is to reduce your speed to a level that should another vehicle appear stationary in front of you, that you have sufficient space to stop. Put all your lights on (bright during the day and dip at night) and switch your hazards on as well. If you have rear fog lamps, put those on too.

Sabie forestrySabie is forestry / Photo: Sabie Travel Info

Experience the picturesque beauty of nature in and around Sabie - a small country town nestled in the majestic Drakensberg escarpment mountains. It's a tranquil, malaria-free holiday destination that caters for the whole family - with hiking & back packing, fly fishing, mountain biking, horse riding, white-water rafting, rock climbing & abseiling, bird watching, 4x4 trips, sightseeing, and shopping for African arts, crafts & curios.

The delightful forestry and tourist town is proud to be without a single parking meter, but they do have a fine collection of stop streets!  All businesses and facilities in town are within walking distance.

Sabie's pride and joy is the SAFCOL Forest Industry Museum.  This museum is the only one of its kind on the African Continent and is well worth a visit.  Not only is it educational, but it's displays fascinate both old and young alike.          

Fact File:


S25.108832 E30.777547


S25.148684 E30.756429


S25.148684 E30.756429














7,7 km




8 minutes


80/100 kph


Tar (R37)






Sabie (1 km)

Route Map:

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From Address:

Route files:

||Click to download: Koffiehoogte  (Note - This is a .kmz file which can be opened in Google Earth and most GPS software systems)


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