This relatively unknown pass runs along the east-west axis between Wakkerstroom in the west and the farming areas around Paulpietersburg in the east. With a summit height of 1925m it settles in as the 51st highest altitude pass in South Africa. Although the pass is technically fairly easy, the real reason to head out onto this big gravel traverse is to enjoy the exceptionally attractive scenery of rolling grasslands, dotted with green clad koppies, wide valleys, tumbling streams filled with trout and a general ambience of country tranquillity.
The pass contains 23 bends corners and curves within its 11,9 km length. Two of those exceed 90 degrees, but neither is particularly dangerous as this road is well engineered with none of the gradients exceeding 1:9.
Cautionaries for this pass include dense mountain mists, heavy rain, snow on occasion in winter and livestock on the road.
Ossewakop (“Ox Wagon Hill”) looms above the small Mpumalanga town of Wakkerstroom on its eastern side, the peak approximately 400 metres higher than the settlement. It is impossible to miss, as some enterprising residents have created the large outline of a Voortrekker wagon and the dates “1838 – 1938” (to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great Trek) with whitewashed rocks on the slopes just below the summit. The route up the mountain is difficult and torturous, so please read the cautionary notes before embarking on this trip. The remarkable views over the town and its surrounds from the beacon on top of the mountain certainly make the effort to get up there worthwhile.
With a summit alltitude of 2001m ASL, this is one of only 19 passes in South Africa above 2000m. The road approximates the direction of the Kastrolnek pass, except slightly further north. It connects Wakkerstroom with the farming areas west of Dirkiesdorp. Think carefully before driving this pass, especially if poor weather is threatening and you are not in a 4WD vehicle.
Kastrolnek translates into 'Saucepan Neck' and it will be a case of "out of the frying pan and into the fire" if you venture over this pass during a snowstorm, as the maximum altitude is an energy-sapping 2030m ASL, but mostly it's a safe and straightforward drive in dry weather conditions. The pass is 6.8 km long and ascends 233 vertical metres producing some very steep gradients of up to 1:6. The pass connects Piet Retief with Wakkerstroom on the tarred R543.
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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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