Mountain passes

Ascend all of these passes on your extended Boland cycle tour.

Up we go! Explore an overview of each of the major mountain passes we will cycle up and down during the long version of our beloved Boland cycle tour. There may be others, but we’ve shown the most significant one for each day. And we even have the privilege to do some in both directions! Fifteen passes and counting.

Bothmaskloof Pass (R46) lies not far from Malmesbury and is our gateway to the Riebeek Valley below. It’s a long U-shaped drag from below but a lovely quick descent from above. And I’ve been over there just this week.

Bains Kloof Pass starts from the outskirts of Wellington and connects towards Ceres and/or Worcester. It is in pristine condition after being resurfaced recently and is an absolute must for cyclists in the winelands.

Gydo Pass (R303) is a proper long climb up from Prince Alfred Hamlet up the mountain towards Citrusdal and we may encounter some tourist traffic, fossil finds and roadside debris. And a stunning view at the top.

Bo Swaarmoed Pass (P1466) is a short gravel stint near the Ceres T-junction on the R46 that leads into the Tankwa Karoo. We typically climb up the long tarred Swaarmoed pass and descent down the short and steep gravel Bo-Swaarmoed road. Fingers on the brakes…

Burgers Pass / Koo Pass (R318) is stunning either way — when climbing towards Rooihoogte at 1234m above sea level; or descending to the oasis that is Montagu, leaving a barren landscape behind. This is a lonely stretch of road, but do consider the possibility of tractors and farm vehicles closer to town.

Cogmanskloof (R62) is a jewel of a road on Route 62 outside of Montagu, the rock climbing capital of South Africa. Just look at the sheer cliffs and rock formations towering above. The road is freshly resurfaced and you can view the new version on https://youtu.be/FBYEh_zRjAA

Tradouw Pass (R324) crosses over the Langeberg mountains from Swellendam to Barrydale, connecting the coastal Overberg region with the arid inland Karoo. It is a long and twisty road that dips down in the middle before climbing up again, either way. It is stunning. Let’s go.

Akkedisberg Pass (R326) lies between Van Brakelstoor and Stanford and is a fairly easy climb with great visibility in both directions. It crosses the Akkedisberg mountains towards Hermanus and the original gravel pass is said to be one of the oldest in South Africa.

Hemel & Aarde Pass (R320) is aptly names as a piece of heaven and it follows a myriad of top wineries from Caledon down to Hermanus. Can you name them all? Seven springs, Creation, Ataraxia, Spookfontein, La Vierge, Bouchard Finlayson, Hamilton Russel and Hermanuspietersfontein. To name a few.

Clarence Drive (R44) between Rooi-Els and Gordon’s Bay (or the other way) is a stunning coastal drive with a few surprise ups and downs. Very popular with cyclists and many argue that this is even more spectacular than our famous Chapman’s Peak Drive on the Cape Town Cycle Tour. Enjoy!

Helshoogte Pass (P310) is right on our doorstep in Stellenbosch and a silky smooth double-lane-each-way tar road pass that connects us towards Pniel with a T-junction after Boschendal that leaves you to decide whether you want to go to Paarl or Franschhoek. PS, ask us about Old Helshoogte pass!

Franschhoek Pass (R45) from the Huguenot Museum is a shorter & steeper climb, compared to the longer & more gradual descent on the other side towards Theewaterskloof dam and Villiersdorp. There is often fresh mountain water after the hairpin turn; and views for days at the top.

Slanghoek Valley Road is a beautiful stretch of tar that slips off the main road below Bainskloof pass towards Rawsonville, underneath tall mounts, next to lanes of trees, and rows of vineyard. A very special place during late afternoon, early morning, or under a full moon. Which one(s) will it be?

Taal Monument Pass (Paarl) is certainly the best spot for an Everesting (at least in our humble opinion). The extra wide road from Courtrai school at the bottom, snaking all the way up to the Amphitheatre and iconic needle at the top, deserves to cycled many times over.

Chapman’s Peak Drive as as good as it gets on the Cape Town Cycle Tour and I cannot wait to do it again. The only way to appreciate this remarkable stretch of road, that hugs the mountainside above the cold Atlantic water, is to experience it for yourself. Preferably more than once.

Thanks Trygve Roberts & Mountain Passes of South Africa for the video descriptions 🎥