About Van Reenen's Pass

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.

Did you know? 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.

Need to Know

WhereVan Reenen's Pass, Betwen Harrismith and Van Reenen, Drakensberg, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

WhenBest during daylight hours.

OvernightStay in Van Reenen Accommodation, KwaZulu Natal

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