North West

This beautiful little pass has nothing special about it in terms of length or altitude gain, except for one thing – it is situated inside the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Nestled within the crater of an extinct volcano, Pilanesberg is an area of great scenic splendour and richly diverse wildlife, with a history extending way back prior to the Iron Age. The pass is located in the south of the park on the tarred road which dissects the reserve from north to south, called Kubu Drive. The road surface has deteriorated a little over the past few years, but it is safe and straightforward, and suitable for all vehicles.

Braamnek is located on the northern banks of the Vaal River, in a corner formed by the borders of the Gauteng, Free State and North West provinces. This minor tarred pass only has two very gentle corners, and although the road surface is in a poor condition, presents no apparent dangers for any vehicle. Good views over the surrounding hills and koppies are presented from the summit, and the pass forms a scenic alternative route when travelling from Johannesburg towards Parys. The pass was probably named after the farmer who owned the property over which the pass traverses.

 

This is an easy tarred pass running on the east-west axis on the northern side of the Magaliesberg, and in relatively close proximity to South Africa's "Platinum Belt" - one of the richest platinum reserves in the world and better known in recent times for the Marikana Massacre where protesting miners were shot by police. The pass also associates itself with happier events like the ATKV resort near the start with its indoor pools and some excellent fresh-water angling in the Buffelspoort Dam. The pass is of average length; has no dangerous corners and offers moderate gradients. It is suitable for all vehicles.

Geyersnek is located approximately 18 kms to the south-west of the small town of Swartruggens, in the North West province. The pass is named after Hendrik Frederick Christiaan Geyer (1884 – 1964) of the farm Rietfontein, and is situated on an obscure public road to nowhere, the D1065. The road surface is gravel (red clay) but is usually in a reasonable condition.

Although in dry weather a 4x4 would not be required, a high clearance vehicle is strongly recommended to drive this pass. The scenery around Geyersnek and on the approach roads is spectacular and lush, with rolling pastures and game farms in every direction, and is a nature photographer’s dream, particularly in spring or summer.

Although this six kilometre gravel pass is fairly ordinary and has no particular characteristics to make it stand out above the rest, the roads around it and its location make this a very special pass. It is situated inside the Bergland, a contorted series of hills and mountains that were formed by what was probably the most apocalyptic event ever to befall this earth. Despite the approach roads being mostly gravel, they are usually in a good condition, and this route can be driven in any vehicle, subject to the weather. It is also a great route for adventure motorcyclists.

This is a modest pass that clears an old military outpost known as Kommando Nek. It connects Hekpoort to the west with the village of Hartbeespoort to the east via the R560 / R512. It only rises 56m over 2,4 km producing an easy average gradient of 1:43, with the steeper sections before and after the summit presenting at 1:14. The pass offers lovely views over the Hartbeespoort Dam as well as access to some of the ruins of the old blockhouses dating back to the Anglo-Boer war.

Lenong Pass is a short but very steep pass, situated within the boundaries of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. It should not be confused with another pass of the same name, located fairly close by in the Marakele National Park near Thabazimbi. It forms the only access route up onto a high plateau, from where visitors to the park are offered fabulous vistas over the surrounding plains and dams from a number of hides and viewpoints. The entire pass has been surfaced with paving bricks and can be driven in all vehicles and in any weather, but some of the gravelled roads on top of the mountain are in a poor condition, and careful driving will be required if you are not in a high-clearance vehicle or in adverse conditions.

Also known as 'Breedt's Nek', this gravel pass can be found just off the R763, near the Magaliesberg Nature Reserve. It provides a link across the Magaliesberg from the settlement of Maanhaarrand to Buffelspoort and the town of Mooinooi to the north-east. The road bears an official number (D568), and the condition ranges from poor to terrible. Expect gradients of 1:10 and deeply rutted and rocky sections. However, providing you are in a 4x4 vehicle or at least a commercial vehicle with good ground clearance, it is most certainly doable, but it is a long, slow drive. Don't drive this road if you're in a hurry.

 
 

The N4 is a national highway that stretches across the entire northern section of South Africa, from the Botswana border in the west, through Pretoria, to the Mozambique border in the east. Astonishingly, there are only four official passes on this road, and Magatasnek is the only one located on the western half. The pass lies just to the west of Rustenburg.

The N4 is heavily tolled, and has a reputation as a dangerous road, in particular the section between Brits and Rustenburg, where there is only a single lane in each direction for much of this route. Impatient motorists tend to overtake slow moving traffic without any regard for the road markings and signs, resulting in a number of injuries and fatalities.

When approaching Olifantsnek from the south, it is said that part of the mountain overlooking the dam looks like the head and trunk of an elephant, hence the name. Alternatively, it is quite possible that herds of wild elephant would have roamed this area long ago. It is the most westerly point of the “3 Dams” route, which is very popular with the motorcycle set as a breakfast run (the 3 dams being Hartbeespoort, Buffelspoort and Olifantsnek). This little pass is just 1.8 km long and gains only 39 metres in height, but what is lacks in statistics it makes up for in scenic beauty.

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Mountain Passes South Africa

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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.
 

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