Van Reenen's Pass

Mountain Passes in or near Van Reenen, Drakensberg in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

KwaZulu Natal Tourist AttractionsVan Reenen's Pass

Where? Harrismith / Van Reenen, Drakensberg, KwaZulu Natal

Overnight? Stay in Van Reenen, in KwaZulu Natal

One of the most scenically beautiful sections on the N3 highway between Durban and Johannesburg, Van Reenen's Pass connects the Drakensberg escarpment of the Free State with KwaZulu-Natal.

Often referred to simply as 'the hill', because of its steepness, twists and turns, Van Reenen's Pass is named after the little town of the same name set roughly in the middle of the pass.

Probably because of the density of traffic on this section of the road that links the towns of Harrismith and Ladysmith, the pass is also one of the most dangerous passes in the country.

It is often the scene of accidents and reckless driving as motorists, intent on reaching either Durban or Johannesburg, resort to thoughtless and rather foolhardy antics – some 76 per cent of drivers exceed the speed limit on the pass.

Van Reenen's Pass is very steep in places and the weather notably unpredictable and unstable. The winds, in particular, are capable of blowing light trucks or even caravans onto their sides. Snow, although irregular, brings the pass to a standstill, whilst mist and rain are typical of the area.

Because it is a national road between two major cities traffic is heavy, and trucks use the pass unceasingly, day and night, undeterred by the 663 vertical metre climb (or descent, depending on which side of the road one is on) over a distance of 36 kilometres.

That said, the aptly named Windy Corner is the lookout point that allows breathtaking views over the valleys and mountains of the area.

The unassuming little Llandaff Oratory, considered the smallest Roman Catholic church in the southern hemisphere (only eight seats; and they call themselves the 'Vegas of chapels' because they marry anybody, day or night!), is worth a quick detour to Van Reenen (take the time to stretch your legs). The church is opposite the Van Reenen Hotel and has a tea garden with beautiful views over the valley.

Why not overnight? Find Accommodation in Van Reenen

Green Lantern Inn


Green Lantern Inn

This historic country hotel is the ideal half-way stop between Durban and Johannesburg. Situated at the top of Van ... more

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