Soetmelksrivier Pass (N2)

Read 1582 times
The start of the pass drops into an S bend The start of the pass drops into an S bend - Photo: Trygve Roberts

This relatively short pass lies on the N2 between Riversdale and Albertinia and forms the eastern half of the twin Riversdale passes - the western one being the Goukou River Pass. The pass has an altitude variance of a mild 62 metres, but the the climb out on the eastern side is long and steep with a gradient of 1:11. This is a favourite spot for local traffic authorities to do speed checking, so watch the speed limit signs carefully or be prepared to cough up.

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.....

FULL-SCREEN MODE: 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: Drive eastwards on the N2 between Riversdale and Albertinia. First you will traverse the Goukou River Pass, followed immediately at its eastern summit by the Soetmelksrivier Pass. It is located approximately 10 km east of Riversdale.

Starting at an altitude of 157m ASL, the road bends away into a nicely banked right hand bend and begins descending at a fairly gentle gradient of 1:16. This right hand bend bend soon swings into a left hand bend forming a complete S-bend, then quickly straightens out as the Soetmelksrivier is crossed.

Crossing the SoetmelksrivierCrossing the Soetmelksrivier is followed by a steep climb / Photo: Trygve RobertsAhead the road can be seen climbing away steeply followed by a sharp right hand bend. The scenery here is typical wheat and canola farming country with every available acre of land under agriculture. Only the koppies and river courses have escaped being ploughed. This pass is one of the areas that still falls under its natural vegetation.

The climb out up to the Still Bay plateau is steep and this section of roadway is unfortunately limited to a single lane in either direction. There is no overtaking allowed at all for eastbound traffic for the entire length of the pass and only one short section near the river crossing for westbound traffic.

If you find yourself stuck behind a heavy, slow moving truck, who will not move over the yellow line, you'll need to exercise some patience, as this uphill/downhill has been the location of several fatal head-on collisions in the past. The ascent is long and straight for 1,2 km and some motorists risk their lives overtaking illegally. Near the summit the gradient flattens out as the road swings away to the left via an easy curve bringing the heading back into the east. The pass ends at the intersection of the secondary road that forms a T-junction to the coastal village of Still Bay, which lies at the mouth of the Goukou River, which you would have crossed during the previous pass - The Goukou River Pass.

Approaching the river crossingExpect heavy trucks and traffic / Photo: Trygve RobertsFor traffic descending from the east, this descent has proved lethal for heavy trucks and buses on several occassions and has been the scene of several serious accidents. If you're towing a caravan or other heavy load, be aware of the danger potential of this momentum gathering descent.

The Soetmelksrivier (which translates into Sweet Milk River) after which this pass is named, is a small river which is a tributary of the Goukou River and forms a confluence with it 3 km further to the south-west.

Fact File:


S34.152566 E21.301159


S34.160920 E21.303971


S34.170362 E21.323034














3,2 km




3 minutes


80 - 120 kph


Tar (N2)






Riversdale (10 km)

Route Map:

Use these powerful features to get the best use out of the map:

  • Choose either Map View or Satellite View (overlaid on the map detail.)
  • Zoom in and out; rotate in any direction.
  • Use the Get Route'feature (directly beneath the map): type in your address to get a personalised route straight from where you are to the pass, with time and distance included.
  • Detailed written and printable directions.
  • Drag the 'little orange man' icon onto the pass for a complete 360° tiltable "street view".

From Address:

Route files:

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

COVID-19 Corona Virus South African Resource Portal

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter with News and Updates from Mountain Passes South Africa

Subscribe to our Site

Subscribe for only R350 a year (or R250 for 6 months), and get full access to our website including the videos, the full text of all mountain passes articles, fact-file, interactive map, directions and route files.



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.

Master Orientation Map

Master Orientation Map We are as passionate about maps as we are about mountain passes. A good map is a thing of beauty that can transport you into the mists of time or get your sense of adventure churning. It is a place to make discoveries about deserts and seas, mountains and lakes; of roads leading into places you have not been before; a place to pore over holiday destinations or weekend camping trips. A map is your window to the world.

View Master Orientation Map...