Montagu Pass is a mountain pass at an elevation of 735m (2,411ft) above the sea level, situated in the Western Cape province of South Africa, on the Regional road between Herold and George.
The surface of the road is gravel and sand. This was the first road between George and Oudtshoorn. The road over Montagu Pass was opened in 1847, having taken 3 years to build by some 250 convicts at a cost of 35,000 Pounds Sterling. It was built replace the highly dangerous Cradock Pass. It lays claim to being the oldest, unaltered pass still in use in South Africa. Henry Fancourt White, an experienced road engineer from Australia, was in charge of the work. The pass was named after John Montagu, Colonial Secretary of the Cape in the 1840's.
Is the Montagu Pass dangerous?
The road is suitable for all vehicles in fair weather. Portions of the road may be temporarily closed due to road work or inclement weather. This pass was damaged by the floods of November 1996, and was closed for most of 1997. It has been repaired and is now open. The pass narrows down as you progress and get higher up the mountain. The road compresses 126 bends corners and curves into its length and gradients reach a maximum of 1:6. The gravel road is in reasonable condition even for low-clearance 2x4 vehicles.
How long is the Montagu Pass?
The main risk on this curvy and narrow mountainous road which rarely permits speeds over 30km/h is coming around a blind corner and discover a vehicle proceeding toward you. The road covers 7,4 kms of magnificently scenic narrow, gravel road driving, ascending to the tiny hamlet of Heroldt, on the northern side of the Outeniqua Mountains. Big rocks sometimes get dislodged (especially in wet weather) and go tumbling into the ravine.