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Buffalo Pass, known more as a “suburban pass”, is situated near the east coast city of East London and derives its name from the Buffalo River over which it crosses. It provides locals a convenient shortcut from the western suburbs to the East London Airport as well as the R72 coastal road which connects the city to Port Elizabeth.

Distance 5.7km
Gradient average 1:33
Gradient maximum 1:11
Summit 198m
Surface Tar Road

The scenic pass is a tarred road however, travellers should be aware that the road today offers a somewhat bumpy ride due to potholes and patched road repairs. The Pass sweeps down into the densely wooded Buffalo River valley and crosses East London's major river via a bridge built in 1955.

Driving rom East to West along Buffalo Pass, the road begins immediately with a sharp turn and begins its descent down the heavily vegetated ravine. The descent has a few blind curves so be careful as drivers coming up the Pass often seem to cut corners.

The lowest point of the Pass is reached after 1.7 km where the road crosses the bridge over the Buffalo River. The bridge was constructed in 1955. Large areas on both the Southern and Western sides of the river have been designated as the Umtiza Nature Reserve. The reserve is named after the endemic Umtiza Listeriana trees, which occur only in this part of South Africa. Her there are a number of hiking trails, sightings of butterflies, many different bird species and a variety of small mammals such as bushbuck, duiker, porcupine, and Samango monkeys.

After the river crossing the ascent begins and at the 3.7 km mark there is a 45 degree left turn and on the apex of this curve travellers will find a viewpoint which provides beautiful views to the West over the Buffalo River valley. Just past the viewpoint is the entrance to the Nature Reserve.

The road continues its meander through the shade of the dense coastal forest, you may have to turn your headlights on at this point as the vegetation closes in, at times forming a complete canopy over the road and oncoming traffic can be difficult to see. The end of the Pass comes as you emerge from the canopy with one last steep rise. The tall radar tower, which will be on your left, is your land mark for the end of the Buffalo Pass.

Thing to do and see

  • Buffalo River Bridge
  • Buffalo River
  • Umtiza Nature Reserve
  • Viewpoint over Buffalo River Valley


No Admission Fee

This pass is dangerous for cyclists and walkers as there are no safety shoulders plus this is a high crime area

Recommended daylight hours only

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