The Naauwkloof Pass on the R62 close to Ladismith is much more of a poort than a true mountain pass. The 8,3 km long poort offers attractive scenery with 12 gentle bends and easy gradients to make this an enjoyable break along the R62, itself touted as the longest wine route in the world.
Towards the northern end of the poort, the Naauwkloof farm entrance can be seen on the right-hand side when travelling south. There's a valley about a quarter of the way through the poort, followed by an ascent to a false summit (516m) at the 4.5 km mark. From this midway summit the road descends continuously till the end of the poort marked by the crossing of the Stassensleegte River.
Howison's Poort (also spelled as Howieson's Poort) is a well known cave like rock shelter halfway up a cliff in the poort. It has considerable archeological signiificance. The 8.8 km long poort bisects the mountains through dense forests and plantations just to the south-west of Grahamstown on the N2 national road.
The poort has more pass like statistics and descends a respectable 300m producing an average gradient of 1:29. The road is nicely engineered with correctly banked corners and double lanes for overtaking along most of its length. There are only 10 bends along the poort, all of them insignificant in terms of speed reduction, except for the first one right near the summit which has a turning angle of 150 degrees and it's quite sharp as well.
Grahamstown has an astonishing amount of 1820 Settler history and is of course, the seat of higher learning in the area, at the well known Rhodes University.
Telemachus Poort (also known as Modderpoort) is located near the tiny Eastern Cape town of Jamestown, about 60 km from Aliwal North. It is named after the Telemachusspruit which tracks the pass on the western side along its southern half. The poort is quite unusual in that it consists of two distinct sections; a “poort” section which follows the stream, and a “neck” section which climbs up a hill towards its summit on the northern side.
The road is in a good condition, and should present no problems for any vehicle in all weather conditions. There are only four corners on the pass, one of which is a big loop of 120 degrees, but this curve has a very wide radius and is easily negotiated.
This lovely little poort comes as something of a surprise when driving along the R61 between Tarkastad and Cradock after many kilometres of flat Karoo driving. It only takes 4 minutes to drive it and the gradients are gentle, so typical of a poort. Lovely sandstone formations are visible during the second part of the descent and there is one well designed layby worth stopping at at the halfway point at the apex of a big right hand bend at the confluence of the two streams.
The poort is named after the Rasfontein farm over which land it traverses and is approximately midpoint between the Karoo towns of Tarkastad and Cradock. There is a blanket speed limit of 80 kph throughout the length of the poort, which is a sensible speed to cope with all the bends which come thick and fast during the lower part of the poort.
Venterspoort is located near Philipstown, a small town which lies about 50 kilometres north-east of De Aar in the Northern Cape. It is difficult to establish exactly which Venter the poort is named after, as this was a very common surname in the area around about the middle to latter part of the 19th century, which is when the town was established. The actual poort is almost indistinguishable from the surrounding landscape, and unless you know precisely where it is, you would probably miss it altogether when driving on the R48. The tarred road is in a good condition, and should not present any problems other than the normal hazards associated with rural South Africa.
Neuspoort is unusual in that it consists of two distinct sections, separated by a flat plateau in the middle. It is named after the small range of mountains through which it traverses, called the Neusberge. It is located on the N14, the national road which connects Johannesburg in the east with Springbok in the west. The road is in an excellent condition and should not present any problems, provided that the speed limits are adhered to. The route between Keimoes and Kakamas is incredibly scenic, with spectacular contrasts between the Kalahari Desert on the northern side of the road and the hundreds of green vineyards located all along the Orange River on the southern side. The western portion of this road is also locally known as Bobbejaankrans or Baviaanskrans, which both mean the same thing.
Janspoort is a very minor tar pass located on the R58 between Burgersdorp and Venterstad near the northern border of the Eastern Cape. It is virtually the only structure to break the monotony of this otherwise featureless road. The surface is in a good condition, probably because there is very little traffic, and can be driven in any vehicle without problems. We have been unable to establish the identity of the “Jan” that this pass was named after, or why he was important enough for this pass to bear his name, but we can be fairly certain that he was a farmer in the area, or an important personage from one of the Anglo-Boer wars.
Olieboomspoort is located directly to the south of the small town of Lephalale (formerly Ellisras) in the Limpopo province. It parallels the course of the Rietspruit river, which has carved its way through the low hills surrounding the area, on the tarred R510 road. The pass is a little longer than the national average and, unlike most other poorts, has a significant altitude gain of 145 metres. There are no apparent dangers other than some sharpish corners, and the poort can be driven in any vehicle, irrespective of the weather conditions.
Noorspoort is a short winding poort just north of the lovely Karoo town of Steyterville. The poort is perhaps best known for it's painted flags on the rock faces on the eastern side of the road and the town of Steytlerville is a shining example of how to rejuvenate an old town, which is immediately evident as one drives down the neat, broad streets filled with neat Victorian houses, lovingly restored replete with broekie-lace and shady stoeps. Down the cenrtre island of the main road the lamp posts are decorated with heraldic emblems and family crests from all sectors of the local community. The Noorspoort is 3,1 km long and has a minor altitude variance of just 24m, making for an easy drive, but don't get too transfixed by all the flags. The poort was carved out by the Grootrivier - a very long river which winds its way all the way down through the Baviaanskloof to form a confluence with the Gamtoos River near Patensie.
Kruippoort, which translates as 'Crawling Passage' probably relates to the slow speed of the original road. It's an easy tarred drive traversing the R62 to the south-west of Ladismith in the Western Cape and forms part of the R62 route. The road is wide and safe and only has two gentle bends, but once inside the poort the poort hems the road in amd provides a scenic, albeit short drive.
Most drivers are not even aware that this is an official poort, so if it's best to premark the coordinates into your GPS before setting off on your journey.
The poort has very gentle average gradients of 1:267 and follows a typical poort profile. There are one or two short sections which get as steep as 1:11, but they don't last long. The biggest danger in this poort is that many motorists ignore the barrier lines when they become impatient with a slower vehicle ahead. Other than that, the engineering work in the poort is good and the road displays no design flaws.
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