There are three Blounek passes in South Africa and all of them are of a minor nature. This one is located on the gravel road between Merweville in the north and the Koup railway siding off the N1 in the south. It's not much of a pass at 2 km in length with a small altitude variance of 42m producing an easy average gradient of 1:48 with the steepest sections reaching 1:11.
The pass only has 2 bends and if you have not plotted the start and end points into your GPS, you might drive over it without realising it's an official pass.
The best reason for driving this pass is that it will take you to the little village of Merweville, which is packed with interesting buildings, fascinating history and earthy, friendly people.
We have not physically driven this pass ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps. The possibility exists that you might encounter locked farm gates. Make sure you have sufficient fuel to backtrack.
This short poort is just over 1 km in length and rises just 24 metres. It forms part of the R358 route between Bitterfontein and Loeriesfontein in Namaqualand. If you want to get away from it all - this is a good place to escape to. You might find a few cars here during the flower season of August and September, but for the rest of the year, you will probably be the only vehicle on the road. The poort is so-named after the red rocks found in the walls of the poort. It's best to add the GPS coordinates of this poort into your GPS, otherwise you will probably not be aware of it. In terms of technical complexity, this little poort is insignificant with only one minor bend and a tiny altitude variance.
The Karoo has several dynamic passes and the De Jagers Pass is one of them. It's located on a good gravel road about 30km NNE of Beaufort West. Unless you're a local farmer, you'll have very little reason to be on this road. Of course, pass hunters don't care about these things, and this gravel pass will satisfy every cent spent on fuel, locating it. It's a farm road and leads only to other farms in the area, but it does offer many options to the adventurous traveller. Please note that our description covers an ascending route from south to north which is by far the easiest way to locate this pass, but our video was filmed in the opposite direction for maximum scenic value.
The Outeniqua Pass is a relatively modern pass, connecting the coastal town of George with Oudtshoorn and the Little Karoo. It was first built in 1942 - 1951 to provide an alternative to the narrow and steep Montagu Pass. It has been widened and modernized several times since then and today carries the bulk of the traffic flow between the two towns and the Langkloof. Rockfalls and trucking accidents close the pass from time to time. The higher reaches of the pass are subject to heavy rainfall and dense mountain mists which can reduce visibility to a few metres. Under such conditions, this pass is dangerous especially due to the volume of commercial traffic that it carries.
It contains 40 bends,corners and curves, many of which exceed 90 degrees. The road is well engineered, but it is advisable to stick to the speed limits have which have been carefully calculated to get you safely over the pass. For south-bound traffic there are several excellent view-sites and the third one from the summit is particularly impressive, which is marked as "The 4 passes". From this vantage point all four passes still be seen, one of which dates back almost 200 years.
The pass has an altitude variance of 581m and is long at 13,3 km, producing an average gradient of 1:23 with the steepest sections being at 1:10.
The Kromrivier Pass is a short, steep pass incorporating 15 bends, corners and curves - two of which are in excess of 100 degrees. The pass connects the Cederberg Tourist Park or more originally, the Kromrivier farm with the main gravel road between Clanwilliam and Ceres in the Southern Cederberg. It also forms part of an escape route via the Truitjieskraal Road, when the main road via Matjiesrivier is in flood
The road is single width for some of its length, which makes overtaking impossible and oncoming traffic a problem. Should this happen, one of the vehicles will need to reverse back to a wider, safer place to allow the other vehicle to pass. Etiquette is that the ascending vehicle has right of way, but this is sometimes neither practical or safe. Use common sense and be courteous. The road can get quite busy on long weekends, but is otherwise very quiet.
The Winkelhaak Road is a 37 km gravel farm road which meanders through the Koue Bokkeveld north of Ceres between the many rivers, dams and lakes of this farming area, specialising in onions and potatoes. The scenery is richly diverse with the dominance of the rugged mountain-scape being omnipresent.
Grootrivierhoogte forms part of the exceptionally beautiful route through the Southern Cederberg, connecting farms like Kromrivier, Matjiesrivier, Nuwerus and Mount Ceder, with the plateau of the Koue Bokkeveld. The road is made up of two major passes - the other being the Blinkberg Pass. Both offer stunning mountain scenery in crisp mountain air. The passes are seriously steep in some places - as steep as 1:5 !!!
Grootrivierhoogte is one of the steepest along this route and light front wheel cars will struggle on the final section near the summit in wet conditions, but for the vast majority of the year, this pass is doable in any vehicle. Take time to stop at the summit and allow the mesmerising mountain views to captivate your soul. From the summit one can look to the south and see part of the Blinkberg Pass, whilst the northern view includes Nuwerus, and Cederberg Oasis.
The Gydo Pass was built at the same time as Michells Pass by Andrew Geddes Bain and his team of convict labourers circa 1848. This important pass connected the Warm Bokkeveld with the higher altitude Koue Bokkeveld, as well as the remote, but fertile (and therefore lucrative) Witzenberg Valley a few kilometers west of the head of the pass.
Michell's Pass (frequently misspelt as Mitchell's Pass) was named after Charles Michell who planned the original route through the Skurweberg & Witzenberg Mountains from Tulbagh and Wolseley through to Ceres. He was a talented military engineer, who perhaps gained more fame for his exploits by eloping with the 15 year old daughter of a French colonel. This might explain why he was "transferred" to the Cape of Good Hope! Michell went on to become the Surveyor-General for the Colony and designed and built several prominent Cape passes and bridges and was a major influence in road construction in the Cape, together with the popular Colonial Secretary, John Montagu, had the vision to plan a network of roads through the Cape Colony that would pave the way to a successful growth in the region's economy.
Chapman's Peak Drive dates back to the early 1900's and is without question one of Cape Town's Top 10 tourist destinations. Its popularity is due to the incredible scenery on offer, viewed from a road which has been been literally hewn out of the almost vertical cliff faces on the Cape Peninsula's western side.
The 10 km long pass connects Hout Bay in the north with Noordhoek in the south and was converted into a toll road in 2003 to cover the high costs of maintaining the road to a safe standard. Along its length you will drive through more than 80 bends, corners and curves and see some impressive modern engineering, including massive steel catch nets and two semi-tunnels. Many sections of unstable rock-face have been reinforced with shotcrete.
This pass is loaded with drama and history dating back to 1910 and is best appreciated driven slowly. It must have seemed an impossible task building a road on such an inhospitable and dangerous cliff face, but the road building pioneers did the job!
The more observant viewers will notice that we have not included our standard vertical profile nor simulated fly-past clips in the first video. The reason for this is that Google Earth simply cannot 'read' the road correctly and the results are too distorted to provide an accurate simulation. This is the only pass in South Africa, where this has occurred.
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.
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.