Poortjieskloof Pass

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Poortjieskloof Pass

This lovely gravel road pass near Montagu in the Western Cape was built by the Department of Water Affairs as part of the access road and construction for the Poortjieskloof Dam. Access is available within certain hours, by permit only. This is a popular fresh water fishing venue. The road is an out and back route and terminates at a view-site adjacent to the dam wall. The road is 5.5 km long and you have to return the way you entered, making the total drive 11 km.


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Digging into the details

Getting there: Take the R62 in an easterly direction from Montagu for approximately 30 km. where you will see a minor gravel road heading off towards the mountains in the North. It is well marked as the Poortjieskloof Dam. After about 500 meters, there is a closed and locked gate with a number of signs declaring the area as restricted, no entry, and so on. Park off the road next to the gate (so that thiose needing to exit can get past your vehicle) and walk through the pedestrian access point to the obvious small farmhouse 100 meters to your right. Knock on the door and the gate controller will issue you with an entry permit which was R10 per vehicle in September, 2013. She will also unlock the gate for you.

Acces point for the Poortjieskloof PassDont be shy or put off by all the No Entry signage. Read the board and get your permit from the gatekeeper in the nearby house. She is polite, friendly and helpful / Photo: Trygve RobertsOnce inside the property, you are bound by the conditions on your entry permit. Please read them and observe speed limits and requited etiquette. if you want to fish, the gate controller will also be able to issue you with a separate permit for fishing. there is no overnight camping allowed and all visitors must be out by sunset. Leaving the reserve requires the same formalities as entering.

Flowering aloesThese succulents were in full flower on the day of our visit / Photo: Trygve RobertsThe gravel track leads down a sloping meadow to a farm, through which you pass right next to the farm-house. keep your speed (and dust levels) down please. The track swings away towards the North west and follows a natural cleft in the mountains as it rises and falls in sympathy with the topography. After a few kms the first finger of the Poortjieskloof dam makes an appearance, giving an indication of the size and scope of the dam. It's not massive, but it is a substantial dam with a fairly high, curved, concrete wall, which was over 100% full on the dayof filming.

The road meanders along the banks of the dam and you will see several jeep tracks heading off towards the various fishing spots. It is a very popular venue for fresh water anglers and you can always expect to see many vehicles and small boats near the shores. The scenery is particularly pleasant with the dark waters of the dam hemmed in on both sides by tall mountains clad in the Karoo like vegetation.

The road has some very sharp turns and one or two places where the gradient is 1:4 (steep!). the road is in good condition and it is fine to travel on with a normal sedan vehicle in most conditions, except heavy rain.

The road terminates at a small level area above the dam wall, providing lovely views in both directions. You will see that the jeep track continues heading beyond the dam wall to the North, but this is onto private land and day visitors are not allowed to proceed beyond the dam wall viewpoint.

Watch a short promo video on the Dam itself (below)

The trip back provides completely different perspectives and is in fact scenically, the better of the two. Keep an eye out for vehicles parked half on the narrow roadway. These belong to fishermen, who will be fishing just out of your view down the embankment.

This pass makes a lovely half day outing if you are spending the weekend in Montagu. The entire reserve is immaculately clean and a pleasure to drive through. The birdlife is good and some small antelope roam in the reserve.

VIEW SOUTH FROM THE VIEW SITELooking south from near the dam wall / Photo: Trygve Roberts

Fact File:


S33.892427 E20.363293


S33.892427 E20.363293


S33.857605 E20.370485
















North & South (Out & Back)


60 minutes


40 kph








Montagu (30km)

Route Map:

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

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