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Patatsfontein Pass (OP6042)

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Start of the 4x4 section of the pass Start of the 4x4 section of the pass - Photo: Trygve Roberts

This fairly long and slow route includes an easy entry and exit section on good gravel roads, which we have included as they form an integral part of the whole route. The total distance is 13,4 km and includes some basic two spoor 4x4 track as well as good quality gravel roads. A 4WD vehicle is required to complete this route, but in fair weather a 4x2 bakkie with diff-lock will also manage it, as will an AWD vehicle (on the proviso that it has reasonable ground clearance).

Although the average gradient is a mild 1:50, there are a few sections that get as steep as 1:7. This route together with the Pietersfontein Pass forms a wonderful circular loop with the mighty Waboomsberg towering over the valley to the north.. In 4x4 parlance this pass in generally a Grade 1 and only occassionaly becomes a Grade 2. which makes it suitable for novice and intermediate drivers.

Note that parts of the route cross private land, so permission needs to be obtained.in advance.

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.) Wait a few seconds for the video to display.....

 

[Video cover photo by Trygve Roberts]

FULL-SCREEN MODEMODE: Click PLAY, then pass your mouse over the bottom right corner of the video screen. The outline of a square will appear. Clicking on it will toggle Full Screen Mode. Press ESC to return to the original format.

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 approach from the west (as we have filmed it) you must first drive the Pietersfontein Pass. Please use the hyperlink to get the directions. Just before the end of the Pietersfontein Pass there is a triangulated intersection at GPS S33.658595 E20.011753. Turn right and follow the road through the farm buildings where the route begins.

Patatsfontein access roadThe approach road through this lovely poort is a scenic drive in itself / Photo: Trygve Roberts


To approach from the east, head north out of Montagu on Bath Street, which becomes the R318. Remain on this road for 13 km and turn right (NNE) onto a gravel road at GPS S33.710872 E20.058647 marked as Pietersfontein. This intersection marks the start of the Pietersfontein Pass. Drive along this pass for 2.3 km to arrive at a fork type intersection at GPS S33. E20..  Turn right here. This marks the eastern start of the Patatsfontein route.

From the western start at the Pietersfontein farm, the road winds through a rugged and attractive poort, called Dassieskloof Poort. This poort is fairly short and lasts for 2,7 km and constains 22 bends, corners and curves as the road heads north-west criss-crossing the Pietersfonteinrivier. If you miss the next turn-off onto theminor twp spoor track, you will end up at the Cedraskloof, Krakadouw and Driehoke farms in a dead end.

Exactly at the 2,7 km mark at the apex of a sharp left hand bend, a very minor track disappears into the bushes on the right. It's very easy to miss this turn, so mark it on your GPS - S33.641141 E19.997566 and make sure you turn right at this point. At first it looks like the track peters out, but persevere and the first section of shrubs and trees gives way to open sunlight, where the road can be seen dropping down to a small river crossing.

[Video cover photo by Trygve Roberts]

Engage low range right away and carefully follow the track being careful not to scratch your vehicle on the thorn trees. When driving any minor gravel gravel roads in the Karoo, thorn trees are always going to be present, and more so near dry river beds. Carry a pair of long handled secateurs in your vehicle to remove any branches that encroach over the roadway.

The tracks drops rapidly down to a small river crossing. For most of the summer, this stream will be dry and during winter at best it will be a small stream with very little depth. However the crossing which is about 6m wide contains lots of big rocks and boulders. Get a passenger to guide you, making sure no part of your vehicle's undercarriage hits any rocks.

Patatsfontein river crossingThe only true obstacle on this route is the second river crossing / Photo: Trygve Roberts

 


Once you're through this obstacle the rest of the pass is relatively straightforward. The road now meanders up the floor of the narrow valley sticking to the right hand side (south) for 6,2 km before reaching the summit point.There is a wonderful sense of isolation all aong this ascent and in late winter and spring, the slopes are filled with the colours of wild flowers and blooming aloes. The track is in a surprisingly good condition and on the day of filming had recently been scraped. The road is narrow and drivers of big SUV's will need to pay attention not to hit any rocks or pick up scratches. There are many washaways close to the road and some deep holes and dongas lie in wait to snag unsuspecting drivers.

 

[Video cover photo by Trygve Roberts]

Once you have crested the summit, a number of buildings start appearing lower down the slope. These are all outbuildings of the Patatsfontein farm. The road winds in between a few houses and cottages and soon a large, sliding security gate appears at the 7,3 km mark. Although this gate was open on the day of filming, it might also be closed and locked. You will need to obtain prior permission to cross the main farm, before embarking on this route.

Continue down the slope, where the road suddenly enters a tight switchback section, which passes close by the main and rather ornate entrance gates of the farmstead.

Patatsfontein winesPatatsfontein Chenin Blanc / Photo: Winemag.co.za

Patatsfontein is a winemaking venture formed by Reenen Borman of Boschkloof, fund manager Henk Kotze and Fritz Schoon of the excellent artisan goods supplier Schoon De Companje in Stellenbosch.

Around 2010, Schoon’s father-in-law gave up his Pretoria flooring business to buy a 1 200ha property in Montagu planted to peaches, apricots and some 15ha of Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Muscat. A certain Chris “Butch” Alheit later came by on a scouting trip for vineyards to supply his own wines and suggested that what was planted was too good to be sold off to the local co-op and thus the three friends decided to establish their own label.

The first wine comes from a 0.6ha block of Chenin Blanc planted in 1985 on shale soil. Used barrels varying in size from 225 litres to 500 litres were sourced from all over and winemaking took place at Boschkloof – spontaneous fermentation and 12 months of maturation on the primary lees.

Remain on the road for a further 5 km as the valley begins narrowing into a tight poort formed by the Patatsfonteinrivier. This poort is also prone to frequent flooding and the road height is only marginally higher than the river bed. Be aware of this in bad weather conditions.

The road meanders in a southerly direction crossing directly though two farms. The first is called Noupad and the second is Groenland. At this second farm the road passes very close to the actual farmhouse, so please slow right down to 10 kph for to reduce dust as well as to prevent any possible accidents involving pedestrians or livestock.

The last kilometre is fairly flat as the road sweeps through a wide left hand bend, where it reconnects with the Pietersfontein road, which you would have passed much earlier on your way to the western start of Patatsfontein Pass. Keep left at this fork and continue heading SSW for a further 4 km to arrive at the T-junction with the R318. Turn left to go to Montagu (11 km) or turn right to ascend the Burgers and Rooihoogte passes and connect with the N1.


Fact File:

GPS START

S33.658595 E20.011753

GPS SUMMIT

S33.640489 E20.033181

GPS END

S33.680158 E20.057816

AVE GRADIENT

1:50

MAX GRADIENT

1:7

ELEVATION START

492m

ELEVATION SUMMIT

703m

ELEVATION END

437m

HEIGHT GAIN/LOSS

266m

DISTANCE

13,4 km

DIRECTION - TRAVEL

East

TIME REQUIRED

80 minutes

SPEED LIMIT

60 kph

SURFACE

Gravel (OP6042)

DATE FILMED

07.10.2018

TEMPERATURE

24C

NEAREST TOWN

Montagu (13 km)


Route Map:

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From Address:


Route files:

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

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