Wyllie's Poort

Mountain Passes / Popular Tourist Routes in or near Makhado, Soutpansberg in Limpopo, South Africa.

Limpopo Tourist AttractionsWyllie's Poort

Where? Wyllie's Poort, N1, Makkado, Soutpansberg, Limpopo

Overnight? Stay in Makhado, in Limpopo

From Makhado (Louis Trichardt) the N1 heads due north to carve its way through the Soutpansberg, reaching the northern side of this stretch of mountains through a narrow gorge known as Wyllie's Poort. Two tunnels, one after another, take one directly through the mountain, and views along its route make it a popular scenic drive.

Wyllie's Poort is a delightfully attractive route with all the twists, turns and scenery one would expect from a path through the Soutpansberg. The rock formations, rock art and birding in the area are reason enough to drive the route, but there is also the well known two-day mountain forest Hanglip Hiking Trail (a rendition of the old Soutpansberg Hiking Trail) that brings visitors to the area.

Viewpoints lie just outside each of Wyllie's Poort tunnels where you can park and really drink in the views over the Soutpansberg.

Wyllie's Poort is named after one of the royal engineers who arrived from Britain during the Anglo-Boer War placed in charge of building a road north through the mountain. You can still see the original road, which followed the path of the river that over the years carved a natural, though narrow, poort through the gorge.

The old road road, though, often flooded with the result that during the early 1960s a couple of tunnels, one 274 metres and the other 457 metres in length, replaced the old road. They were established east of the river, which meant the new road could be both wider and safer.

Despite the implication that tunnels mean a straight and continuous road through the mountain, the rest of the pass is a series of sharp corners and bends. And the tunnels are not lit; keep your headlights on.

The two viewpoints are ideal for bird spotting and specials include the Drakensberg prinia and mocking cliff-chats in the gorge below. Above the tunnels look out for the short-toed rock thrush . It is fairly common to spot a pair of Verraux's eagles in the skies.

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