IMPORTANT NOTICE: The old farm over which this road traverses has been sold to a new owner, who has subsequently locked the gates at either end, so this pass is unfortunately no longer publicly accessible.
This gem of a pass is a well hidden secret, which lies in an isolated valley to the north of the Klipbokkrans and Baviaansberg mountains [1946m] and follows the natural kloof formed to the south of the Grasberg mountain [1638m]. It lies on the east/west axis and at 16,1 km is quite a long pass. It's not only long in terms of distance, but in time too. You will need at least 1,5 hours to complete the kloof itself and that excludes the southern return leg over many kilometres of farm roads.
Multiple farm gates and to a fairly dodgy road, which can be in various states of disrepair, all add to the remote and rugged allure. It's best done in a 4x4 or at least a "bakkie" with good ground clearance and diff-lock. Despite the average gradient being an easy 1:30, there are some very steep parts, especially near the summit, which reach 1:6. During winter and after rain, there are multiple river crossings to negotiate, none of which are crossed over any bridges. The rewards however, are magnificent.
This easy, tarred pass lies on the R327 between Mossel Bay and Herbertsdale, and finds its end amongst green fields on the banks of the Gouritz River. The pass dates back as far as 1850. It's above the national average at 8,5 km and descends a substantial 253m producing an average gradient of 1:34 via 13 bends, corners and curves.
The main geographical feature of this pass, is its proximity to the Gouritz River which has a huge drainage area of 45,715 sq.km. The Gourits River flows from the confluence of the Gamka River and Olifants River and is joined by the Groot River, before flowing through the Langeberg Mountains and coastal plain. It eventually drains into the sea through the Gourits Estuary near Gouritsmond. At the point where the pass kisses the banks of the river, is one of the few places where the river can be accessed in tranquil mood over a wide floodplain.
This relatively new pass was constructed between 1984 and 1988 at the then staggering cost of R125,000,000. Leading up to the Huguenot Tunnel from its western side, is the awe-inspiringly beautiful, high-altitude Hugosrivier Viaduct (the first of its kind to be built in South Africa!) The bridge is simultaneously curved, rising and cambered - constructed by the incremental method. It soars high above the farm-patchworked Hugosrivier Valley. The 4 km-long tunnel reduced the distance of the old pass by 11 km.
The scenery along the pass is amongst the best in the Western Cape and it's arguably the finest pass mountain pass along the entire N1. During the winter rainfall season there are several waterfalls to be seen, some of them falling from such great heights that they disintegrate into mist before reaching the bottom. For most of the eastern section of the pass, the road follows the course of the Molenaars River, making it more of a poort than a pass, but once the Huguenot Tunnel is reached, the road burrows straight through the mountain and then descends rapidly towards the Paarl Valley.
Despite the fabulous scenery, the road carries heavy traffic and trucking accidents are a regular occurence. Most accidents occur on either side of the tunnel, rather than inside it. Drivers need to remain very alert on the pass and note that the maximum speed limit is 100 kph and at other times as low as 60 kph. Speed limits inside the tunnel may vary based on current traffic conditions. At the time of writing (2022) there is a new project to open up the second tunnel to traffic, which will allow double lanes of traffic in each of the dedicated directional tunnels. This new project should take about 3 years to complete.
The old Du Toits Kloof Pass (officially designated as the R101) is 11km longer than the newer N1 route, and is certainly worth choosing over the new route if you're not in a hurry! Its grand, dramatic mountain views and elegantly constructed, tunnel whisks one back in time to an older, almost forgotten era -- when World War 2 impactfully changed the world with its bombs, genocide and bittersweet victories.
This relatively unknown pass is located high in the mountains about 15 km south-east of De Doorns. It's of above average length at 5,3 km and descends 338m producing an average gradient of 1:16 with the steepest parts reaching 1:7. It offers exceptional mountain scenery as well as four very sharp bends in excess of 100 degrees. The oddly named Dwars in die Weg translates roughly into 'Transversely across the Way', with reference to a stand-alone peak Dwarsberg [1025.4m] which blocks the view near the western foot of the pass.
The road leads to the Keerom Dam. (Turnaround Dam) which is aptly named as this is the end of the road and the route has to be retraced back to the R318. The road is quiet and thoroughly enjoyable to drive. Please read the section on public access carefully in the main body of text lower down, so that you understand exactly at which point the road changes status from public to private.
Cautionaries: Sharp bends, loose gravel, very tight bends, steep unguarded drop-offs.
The Dwarskloof Pass is located between the N2 (east of Caledon) and the village of Greyton. It is a minor and completely safe pass and if you didn't know it was an official pass, you would probably miss it completely. It is nothing more than a long descent down a gravel farm road towards the Riviersonderend valley. The gradient is a very easy 1:44 and the steepest part is 1:11. It is perfectly safe for all vehicles and bicycles will have no issues either.
We filmed the pass from south to north to maximise on the beautiful mountain backdrop. Despite the placidness of this pass, it does offer magnificent scenery. In front of you the looming bulk of the Sonderend Mountains form a formidable obstacle, whilst the fields on either side are a mass of rolling hills clad in green and yellow (wheat and canola) in winter and spring. This is also a place you are likely to see South Africa's national bird - the Blue Crane.
This unusual gravel pass is located on the coastal plateau between Albertinia and the coastal road connecting Gouritzmond and Stilbaai. The pass has a classic inverted profile (High-Low-High) and traverses a riverless valley called Canca se Leegte. It has some very sharp and awkward (incorrectly banked) corners which can be lethal if your speed is too high.
At 2,6 km it's a short pass (well below the national average) but it packs plenty of variety into that distance. Some of the gradients are steep at 1:7 and the pass zig-zags its way past two prominent rocky outcrops called Eilandskop, after which the pass is named. The pass is best driven in a high clearance vehicle or very carefully in a normal car.
The Elands Pass is the final descent down into the long, low altitude valley called Gamkaskloof, but more commonly known as "Die Hel". This page is repeated in its entirety on the main Gamkaskloof page. If you intend driving this pass, we recommend rather switching to the main Gamkaskloof entry which covers all ten sections, including the Elands Pass. The videos on this page are more detailed than the videos on the gamkaskloof page, so if your interest is is the Elands Pass perse, then remain on this page.
This pass descends a total of 477m over a distance of 4,7 km producing a very stiff average gradeint of just under 1:10. You will have to deal with five very tight hairpin bends, and 49 other bends, corners and curves of varying degrees, but it is the very steep, unguarded drop-offs that tend be unnerving for many drivers and passengers. The design of the pass is actually very good and there is no point where the gradient exceeds 1:7.
This pass, although fairly short ranks right up with the biggest and best passes in South Africa, attracting in excess of 10,000 page views each year. This is a bucket list pass and one that every adventurous traveller should do.
The Elandskloof Pass is a comfortable tarred pass, designated route R303 and is the prequel (or sequel depending on your direction of travel)) to the much more dramatic Middelberg Pass when travelling from north to south between Citrusdal and the Koue Bokkeveld. A substantial plateau lies between these two passes and the farm Elandskloof lies at the southern end of the pass and is where the pass took its name from. Despite the easy gradients and gentle corners, it is a very old pass dating back to the 18th Century and was first a sheep trekking route, but has been modernised and realigned several times over the past 150 years. It should be noted that there are 3 passes with variants of this name in the Western Cape - the other two being near Villiersdorp and the Gamkaskloof respectively.
The pass contains 18 bends, corners and curvers within its 7,1 km length gaining 338m which produces an average gardient of 1:21 and it never gets steeper than 1:11. There are three bends with major angles of up to 150 degrees, but all of them have wide turning arcs rendering them quite safe providing speed limits are complied with.
This fabulous out and back pass starts just north of Villiersdorp and connects the fertile Elandskloof farming valley with the town. The pass is short and very steep in places (at 1:4) and small engined cars might struggle up some of the inclines. Fortunately the pass is tarred, so there is no slipping and sliding. It is perhaps best remembered by older Capetonians as an excellent day trip for the whole family to "High Noon", which offered an array of activities as well as tame and wild animals.
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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