Goukamma Pass (N2)

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Steam train at the pass circa 1998 Steam train at the pass circa 1998 - Photo: Hans Leinders

The Goukamma Pass traverses the lovely green valley fed by the perennial Goukamma River with the Ganzvlei farm taking centre stage in this fertile valley. The railway line overpasses the road at the river and this is followed by a long, steep ascent up the eastern side of the valley with gradients up to 1:11. The scenery is fabulous as this is in the very heart of the Garden Route with forest and heather clad green hills topped off with tall pine forests and onyx coloured rivers.

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Digging into the details:

Getting there: Head east out of Sedgefield on the N2 in the direction of Knysna for 11 km to arrive at the western start of the pass.

After driving on the N2 for some distance with the Groenvlei lake on the right hand side, the road starts climbing gently up a small nek surrounded by pine clad hills. At the summit of this small neck you will commence with the western start of the Goukamma Pass.

The pass is named after the Goukamma River - a typical Garden Route river, which sources high up in the Outeniqua mountains. The Homtini River further upstream forms a confluence with the Goukamma River and this has led to lots of confusion. The Homtini Pass on the historical, gravel 7 Passes Road further inland, has been called the Goukamma Pass in error and similarly, this pass has been called the Homtini Pass, which is completely incorrect.

Goukamma RiverAerial view of the middle section of the pass looking north showing the Goukamma River straddled by the road and rail bridges / Photo: Greg RowlesThe Goukamma River winds its way for a further 5 km downstream to form an estuary at the coast on the road to Buffelsbaai. The entire section forms part of Cape Nature's Goukamma Nature Reserve. A right hand turn adjacent to the river will get you to the reserve's entrance gate, which offers hiking, beaches, swimming, the estuary and a large, shady picnic area. It's a great place to spend a few hours. The holiday village of Buffelsbaai with its beautiful 7 km long beach lies a few kms to the east of the nature reserve.

From the summit the road begins descending at a gradient of  1:18 via an easy S-bend revealing lovely views of the valley which is picture perfect and almost surreal in its perfection. In the foreground are the green fields of the Ganzvlei farm, with the dark waters of the river meandering through it. To the north the railway line cuts a swathe of perfect gradient along the edge of a tall pine forest to sweep over the road via an old steel bridge. Pre-2000, when the steam trains still used this route, motorists used to wait patiently here, to capture perfect photos of the train overpassing the N2.

Goukamma Pass eastern ascentThe steep eastern ascent has 2 lanes to accommodate overtaking slow traffic / Photo: Trygve RobertsThe speed limit reduces near the bridge to 80 kph and local traffic authorities frequently ply their trade here. Once under the bridge, the road starts climbing quite steeply at a gradient of 1:11 and maintains that gradient almost all the way to the summit.

The ascent is long and steep and lasts for a full 3 km. Heavy trucks trundle up here at low speeds and engineers have wisely created two lanes for the ascent, which lasts all the way to the summit. There are 5 easy bends on the way to the top - none of which require any speed adjustments.

This pass runs seamlessly into the Keytersnek Pass (also sometimes called the Knysna River Pass), which completes the descent down into Knysna.

Within 300m of the summit on the left hand side of the road is a dangerous intersection to the left. This road is tarred and heads for Rheenendal and the Millwood old gold mine. It is also a link road onto the  7 Passes Road.

Fact File:


S34.039551 E22.922079


S34.032018 E22.939102


S34.033063 E22.970324














4,9 km




4 minutes


80 - 100 kph


Tar (N2)






Sedgefield (11 km)

Route Map:

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Route files:

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

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