This web site is a work in progress an will cover all the mountain passes that have been identified within the menu structure of the site. Information is available for the passes poorts, neks and scenic drives in the Western Cape. Maps showing the location of ALL the passes in every province have been loaded under each pass name. It is best to check periodically for updates on the individual pass information.
The pioneers of South Africa needed to develop routes to the hinterland to expand the economy and challenge the frontiers. What we know as the Western Cape was all but encircled by a number of mountain ranges, which restricted expansion and development. The local inhabitants, predominantly Khoi San, moved their livestock around along animal trails, often those not normally synonymous with the region, such as elephant. With the development of trade and the expansion of farming, the need for roads to the farmlands grew, and with this so did the need for effective and safe crossing of the various mountain ranges. The history surrounding our passes is fascinating, but the need for the road network has not changed since those pioneering days. Our road network is still an integral part of the region’s economy, perhaps more so now than say thirty years ago when the railway system was still the main mode of transporting merchandise. An integral part of the road network is the Mountain Passes.
There are an estimated 490 Mountain Passes in the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape alone. Many are no longer in use. Some are difficult to distinguish, but each was and still is homage to the region’s growth and development. The South African Mountain Passes are objects of great beauty. That they are mostly engineering feats, both modern and historical is undeniable, but their outstanding attraction is the sheer beauty one experiences when crossing any of these passes. Herein lies the essence of the Mountain Passes. In the days of yore, when travellers transporting their wares crossed these passes, speed was never a consideration. The safety of the travelling party and their animals was paramount. They did not live in the future, as we modern inhabitants of this beautiful Earth are so wont to do. We rush around in our daily lives, mesmerised by time, with half an eye on what we are doing and the rest on what we are about to do. When we place ourselves behind the wheel of our vehicle, be it an SUV, a luxury sedan or just ‘old faithful’, we’re obsessed with arriving at our destination safely and preferably as soon as possible. And so we cross one of the most beautiful pieces of Earth, South Africa, focussed on the destination, the piece of tarmac in front of us, and the completion of our journey. The sheer beauty of the vistas on display is often lost in a mist of irritation and anticipation, constant companions on a modern-day road trip. In our results driven world, the end is all that matters and the joy and splendour of the trip is lost along the way. What if one stopped along the way? What if we savoured every bit of the trip, perhaps not metre by metre, but perhaps section by section, view by view, or even just pass by pass?
The object of this website is to alert the reader to the beauty of South Africa and its awesome Passes. Not just the Passes, but also the Scenic Routes which express the country’s beauty in all its splendour. None of this means a thing if the object of the trip is the destination. The destination is secondary. It is the journey, which is paramount. It has to be savoured. Stop at a viewing site, or for coffee at a farm stall, or tasting some wine at one of the various wine estates and farms. In fact visiting the Mountain Passes of South Africa can be a journey of its own. It is not part of an itinerary, it is the itinerary. Travel around this website, learn a little about the SA Mountain Passes, and plan your trip to savour the beauty of this beautiful land, in your car, on a motorbike or even by bicycle. Let your destination be where you find yourself and not where you aim to be.