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The Top 10 Driving Roads

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Magoebaskloof Pass
 

Province: Limpopo

ADR: 1.6:1

Road: Magoebaskloof Pass

Magoebaskloof is one of the great classic passes of Limpopo province. It has less than 20 passes in total, but amongst those are some of the finest scenic passes in the land. This pass climbs 446 vertical meters to summit at 1400m ASL producing an average gradient of 1:17 with the steepest parts being at 1:9. The pass is tarred and is suitable for all vehicles.

Magoebaskloof is a beautiful mountainous area in the Limpopo Province at the very North Eastern tip of the Drakensberg mountain range. Fondly called “The Land of the Silver Mist” by historians and locals alike, the mountains and valleys of the area are regularly shrouded in a soft mist. This mist belt has resulted in the lush afro-montane forests that make the area a welcome green oasis in the Limpopo bushveld.

Province Road Length Bends ADR
Limpopo Magoebaskloof Pass 8 16 1.6

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Chapman’s Peak
 

Province: Western Cape

ADR: 2.3:1

Road: Chapman’s Peak

Affectionately known as “Chappies”, Chapman’s Peak Drive is widely regarded as one of the most scenic stretches of road winding through the Atlantic Coast between Hout Bay and Noordhoek in the Cape Peninsula. It is one of the most spectacular marine drives in the world and a must-see for anyone who is passionate about the majestic scenery of Cape Town. The twists and curves in the road seem endless and it is a photographers dream.

From stunning vantage points, some of which are up to 593m above sea level, Chapman’s Peak Drive and the surrounding coastal areas offer excellent whale watching spots during the annual whale season in Cape Town. Aptly named after John Chapman, the Captain’s mate of an English ship the Consent, construction of Chappies began in 1915 and, after several years of work, it was officially opened by the governor-general of what was then the Union of South Africa, Prince Arthur of Connaught and Strathearn.

Province Road Length Bends ADR
Western Cape Chapman’s Peak 11 24 2.3

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Naude’s Nek (gravel)
 

Province: Eastern Cape

ADR: 3.7 :1

Road: Naude’s Nek (gravel)

In 1896, the Naudé brothers built a rough track across the mountains which is now the renowned Naude’s Nek. Using picks, shovels, and a horse cart they followed the age old animal trail across the mountain.

Naude’s Nek Pass is a long, slow scenic drive on twisting gravel roads, either from Maclear on the R396 or Mount Fletcher on the D8018, over the Drakensberg to the village of Rhodes. It is the second highest altitude, gravel road, publicly accessible pass in South Africa and is a much sought after personal trophy for pass ‘hunters’ to say: “I’ve driven it!”, Zig-zagging its way over the Southern Drakensberg, the pass is a long and slow drive with an average gradient of 1:16. Starting from the Rhodes side (Western side) the road follows the Bell River valley, passing some lovely farms, many of which offer B&B facilities. This is also trout fishing country. Just outside Rhodes you will pass the turnoff to Tiffendell, via the Carlisleshoeksruit Pass.  A great spot for photographers is where the Bell River curves through several U-shaped bends, whilst tumbling over small rapids. Some of the deeper pools make for excellent fishing spots.

Province Road Length Bends ADR
Eastern Cape Naude’s Nek (gravel) 76 101 3.7

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Spektakel Pass
 

Province: Northern Cape

ADR: 5.1:1

Road: Spektakel Pass

Spektakel Pass is a mountain pass on the tarred R355 east of the Buffels River about 22km west of Springbok in the Namaqualand region of South Africa. Derived from the Afrikaans for ‘spectacle pass’. The name stems from an incident in which an oxwagon overturned and the female passengers fell head over heels in an undignified, rather embarrassing manner, causing a spectacle.

The Spektakel Pass is said to have been named by Simon van der Stel in the late 17th Century. Arriving at the top, he is said to have exclaimed something to the effect of “Wat een spektakel!” This view shows the impacts of development, with an abandoned copper mine and the dust from the gravel road. Surprisingly, there was also water in the Buffels River on this day.

Province Road Length Bends ADR
Northern Cape Spektakel Pass 13 7 5.1

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Ring Road around Johannesburg
 

Province: Gauteng

ADR: >100:1

Road: Ring Road around Johannesburg

The N1, N3, and N12 form the Johannesburg Ring Road around the city.

The Johannesburg Ring Road is Africa’s most famous beltway. It is made up of a subset of the freeways that circle the city of Johannesburg, South Africa and services the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Area. Construction on the Ring Road began in the late 1960s. Sections of the Eastern Bypass first opened in 1971 while the last section of the Southern Bypass opened in 1986.

The Ring Road had two major aims when it was built: first, to allow traffic not destined for Johannesburg to bypass the city along a number of high-speed freeways in quick and easy fashion; and second, to allow for the mobility of the South African Army to defend the then apartheid state from hostile neighbours, or to quell violence in Black townships during a state of emergency. Over the years, however, as Johannesburg has grown, the Ring Road has now become frequently used by local residents for commuting between home and work.

Province Road Length Bends ADR
Gauteng Ring Road around Johannesburg 84 0 >100

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Robber’s Pass
 

Province: Mpumalanga

ADR: 2.0:1

Road: Robber’s Pass

Robber’s Pass is situated in the Mpumalanga province, on the R533 between Ohrigstad and Pilgrim’s Rest. The road is the original road that the settlers travelled on with their ox wagons but today it is a modern tarred highway that winds through Kranskloof, Phelindaba and the Morgenzon Forestry station.

This long tarred pass offers diverse scenery through an area steeped in history and of course, stories of robbers of those who found gold in the area. The pass begins on the northern edge of Pilgrim’s Rest and leads in a north-westerly direction into the foothills of the mountains. The initial 5 km follows a series of hairpin bends, best driven slowly. The highest point of the pass is at about 13 km, after which you descend in slow curves onto the grassy plains of the Ohrigstad River. There is the famous Robbers Grave which can be visited near the pass at Pilgrim’s Rest – a village inextricably linked to the pioneering days of the discovery of gold.

Province Road Length Bends ADR
Mpumalanga Robber’s Pass 7 14 2.0

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Franschhoek Pass (Lambrechts Road)
 

Province: Western Cape

ADR: 4.2:1

Road: Franschhoek Pass (Lambrechts Road)

The Franschhoek Pass, also known as Lambrechts Road, follows the path of least resistance along the Middagskransberg, tracing the northern edge of the Franschhoek Mountains between the Wemmershoek Mountains and the Franschhoek Valley.

It is one of the more heart-stopping of the passes for views and vistas of the surrounding valleys, gorges and mountains, particularly the drop down to the Franschhoek River from the summit.  The entrance to the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve is located on this pass.

Franschhoek Pass is also called Lambrechts Road, though – more poetically – a hundred and fifty years ago it was known as Olifantshoek (“Elephants Corner’) after the now mythical herds of elephant which once roamed these valleys and mountains. This long, steep and dramatic pass with its variety of scenery was South Africa’s first properly engineered road. Popular attractions along this pass include the Franschhoek Motor Museum located at the beautiful L’Ormarins wine estate, the renowned Vrede en Lust Winery, nestled at the foothills of the Simonsberg Mountains as well as the Huguenot Memorial Museum which is set at the end of the main street through Franschhoek.

Province Road Length Bends ADR
Western Cape Franschhoek Pass (Lambrechts Road) 13 16 4.2

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Long Tom Pass
 

Province: Mpumalanga

ADR: 1.7:1

Road: Long Tom Pass

Long Tom Pass is situated in the Mpumalanga province, on the Regional Road R37 between Lydenburg and Sabie. At the top of the Long Tom Pass is a large silver cannon called The Long Tom. That was the British name for this Boer-operated field gun that fired a 38kg shell for 10km and was the bane of British generals and their brigades.

The Long Tom Pass was built between Lydenburg and Sabie as an alternative route for the waggoners of the 1800s to get through to the Mozambican port of Lourenco Marques (now Maputo) for trade. The exquisite Horseshoe Falls are found along the Sabie River in the Mpumalanga province. These falls are found 4kms off the Old Lydenburg Road, signposted on the left side. Another popular tourist attraction is the Mac Mac Falls, named for the feisty Scottish miners who panned for gold here in the 1870s gold rush.

Province Road Length Bends ADR
Mpumalanga Long Tom Pass 26 34 1.7

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Golden Gate Pass
 

Province: Free State

ADR: 3.3:1

Road: Golden Gate Pass

Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the north eastern Free State lies the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.

The park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the Park’s sandstone cliffs, especially the imposing Brandwag rock, keeping vigil over the main rest camp.

This 11 600 hectares of unique environment is true highland habitat, providing home to a variety of mammals – black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell’s zebra – and birds, including the rare bearded vulture (lammergeier) and the equally rare bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs. Ribbokkop, the highest point in the park, reveals a breathtaking tapestry of red, yellow and purple hues as its warm shades merge with the cool mountain shadows towards evening. Areas of special interest in this part of the country include the Van Reenen family graveyard, the Impressive Brandwag buttress rock formation, as well as the Vulture Restaurant Cathedral Cave. Interesting lookout points and viewpoints include the Zuluhoek lookout point, Generaalskop viewpoint, the third highest point in the park; Oribi basin and the Drakensberg view.

Province Road Length Bends ADR
Free State Golden Gate Pass 13 19 3.3

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Sani Pass
 

Province: KwaZulu-Natal

ADR: 2.2:1

Road: Sani Pass

KwaZulu-Natal’s Sani Pass is located in the Western part of the province, on the road between Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal and Mokhotlong, Lesotho. It is considered one of the most spectacular mountain passes in South Africa, and a favourite for off-road enthusiasts. It’s accessed via 4×4, mountain bike, quad bike or motorcycle – or you can join legions of runners who tackle it on foot each year – if you’re up for the challenge!

The Sani Pass starts at 1544m and rises 1332 vertical meters to summit at 2876m. This altitude gain is almost 300 meters more than its nearest competitor – the Naude’s Nek Pass in the Eastern Cape. Originally a pack-animals trail and only opened to traffic in 1955, Sani Pass Peaking is also aptly referred to as the Roof of Africa. No surprise why as the pass peaks in at 2 873 metres above sea level.

Province Road Length Bends ADR
KwaZulu-Natal Sani Pass 5 28 2.2

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