Serra da Leba Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.845m (6,053ft) above the sea level, located in the province of Huíla, in Angola. The road to the top is asphalted and pretty steep. The most challenging part of the climb is a short section of 1.7km, with 7 hairpin turns. It’s one of the famous hairpinned roads in the world.
The surface of the road is asphalted, and chains or snow tyres can be required throughout the year. Located near the city of Lubango, Serra da Leba is famous for its altitude, for its beauty and also for the road over the pass. The road to reach the summit is a sharply winding and precipitous ascent in a steep and narrow zig-zag section.
The road is called Estrada Nacional 280 (EN280). The drive is definitely worth it. Legend has it that the Serra da Leba pass is named after a Portuguese woman who designed and built the road, who died after she viewed it on the very day the project was finished. Being one of the country's postcard images for decades, the road is a marvel of engineering given the era of its construction. In spite of its beauty, the road offers little guard-rail protection and has been the venue of many road fatalities; thus bearing the long assigned name 'the beautiful precipice'.
The road is difficult and it’s a nightmare in the wet or dark (or both). Situated some 20 miles west of the city of Lubango, the Serra da Leba Pass is a national landmark in Angola. This breathtaking mountain road built in the 1970s, spirals down from the 'plano alto' (high plateau) elevation of 1.845 meters to almost sea level in just over 10 kilometers; literally transversing 3 or 4 different climate zones during any ascent or descent.
There is little room for error on this road. It's normal for your palms to sweat looking at those photos, imagine what it must have been like before the barriers. It’s incredibly disorienting to look over the edge, or even just to see the valleys a couple thousand feet below you. It’s a mind numbing vertical drop of hundreds of meters so you might want to give it a miss on a windy day.
Pic: Wilhan Gomes