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King of the Passes

The Naude’s Nek Pass is situated between the towns of Rhodes and Maclear in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

The Pass lies at the southern end of the Drakensberg and is probably most well known as the highest dirt road in South Africa with a summit of 2 590 meters. It is often referred to as the “king of the passes”, full of hairpin bends and a very good chance of mist. During winter, due to its’ height, snowfall is common and the roads can be slippery. The drive is slow, but one of the most scenic trips in the country. Look out for the old public telephone in the middle of nowhere.

Distance 32,7km
Gradient average 1:41
Gradient maximum 1:5
Summit 2590m
Surface Tar

This area is also a popular trout fishing spot and from the Rhodes side, near where the Bell River curves are some deeper pools excellent for fishing. The area is also a photographers’ paradise,

The road to the summit is not in great shape, but the views are breathtaking and well worth the effort. Some tourists maintain that the road can be taken to the summit with an ordinary car with high clearance, but be warned, some with 4 x 4 vehicles have said it is a challenge. The approach from the Rhodes town side proves a little less daunting.

Thing to do and see

  • Naude Family Memorial
  • Picnic Spots (adjacent to Memorial Site)
  • Old Public Telephone
  • Scenic Photo Opportunities


There is no charge to travel along the pass and it is recommended that visitors to the Pass travel during daylight hours. The full trip is approximately four and a half hours’, depending on weather.


Rhodes has rainfall in the summer months and can experience snowfall in the mountains during winter.

Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 10˚C and 23˚C.

Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between -1˚C and 16˚C.


There are Domestic flights into Bloemfontein Airport and East London Airport on a daily basis. Car rental companies are available at both airports.

The road trip from Bloemfontein to Rhodes Village is approximately 361.2 km along the N6.

The road trip from East London to Rhodes Village is approximately 339.6 km along the N2.

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