Naude's Neck Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.592m (8,503ft) above the sea level, located in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. This pass is not for sissies and even in full 4 WD the vehicles can be sliding around on the muddy surfaces. It’s one of the highest mountain roads of South Africa.
The road over the pass is called R396. It’s gravel, and it links Maclear and Rhodes. The pass is said to be the second highest dirt road in South Africa. Naudes’ Nek Pass is a long, slow scenic drive on twisting gravel roads, either from Maclear or Mount Fletcher, over the Drakensberg to the village of Rhodes. You should allow about 4,5 hours for this drive, including photo stops, and more in bad weather.
This trail passes through remote areas, so you need to be prepared. 4 wheeling is an inherently dangerous activity and shouldn’t be attempted without the appropriate training and equipment. Today the road is more usually travelled in a comfortable 4x4 vehicle, but it still presents a challenge, particularly in winter when heavy snowfalls are common. Local advice regarding weather and road conditions should be heeded before attempting this spectacular pass.
During and after a storm the road may be impassable, even with a four-wheel-drive vehicle and can easily get muddy if it rains making it challenging to get through. This is off-the-beaten-track kind of driving. Even in a 4X4 the road presents something of a challenge, particularly in winter when, because of its height, snowfalls are common and make the roads slippery. And the roads are not in good shape, although there are those who advocate that in an ordinary car with high clearance, you can manage the summit.
Pic: Jacques Venter