Van Reenen’s Pass, a perilous road in South Africa

Van Reenen Pass
Van Reenen Pass

The beautiful Van Reenen’s Pass, which makes its way through the Drakensberg Mountains between Ladysmith and Harrismith along the N3 between Durban and Johannesburg, is named after the little settlement of Van Reenen, which seems to stand to watch at the summit. Unfortunately, the pass’s lone distinction as the most perilous Pass in Africa is all it has to show for itself.

Where is Van Reenen’s Pass located?

Van Reenen’s Pass is the only option if you’re looking for a scenic drive that passes through some of South Africa’s most breathtaking landscapes. The journey from Harrismith in the Free State province to Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal via this mountain pass in the Drakensberg Mountains is unlike any other.

You can locate this road on the map below:

Enlarge the map

Information about Van Reenen’s Pass:

The expansive view from the mountain tops is one of Van Reenen’s Pass’s highlights. You can take in the stunning beauty of the Drakensberg Mountains from this vantage point as you can see for miles in every direction.

Along the route of the pass, there are a number of picnic areas where you can stop, unwind, and enjoy the scenery.

What is the history of Van Reenen Pass?

It’s also worthwhile to visit the towns of Ladysmith and Harrismith, which are connected by Van Reenen’s Pass. At the base of the Drakensberg Mountains is a small town called Harrismith, which is renowned for its picturesque streets, regional history, and outdoor pursuits.

On the other hand, Ladysmith is a larger town with a lengthy history and a significant role in the Anglo-Boer War. Here, you can travel along the renowned Battlefields Route, which leads you past some of the most important battlegrounds from the conflict.

Van Reenen’s Pass preview:

You can obviously have a preview of that drive today. Here is a YouTube video that shows a part of the road with very snowy weather :

How to get to the Van Reenen Pass today?

The primary route between Durban and Johannesburg along the border between the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State is the N3 freeway, which was built through the pass. The two closest towns are Ladysmith and Harrismith. While the settlement of Van Reenen is located at the summit of the pass.

If you are planning a road trip in South Africa, you can also drive the Garden Route or even Chapman’s Peak.

You can visualize how to get there on this approximative map of the drive:

Is the Van Reenen’s Pass open?

Although the road itself is well-maintained and open all year round, some sections can be difficult to drive on in the winter due to snow and ice. Despite these difficulties, the pass continues to be a well-traveled route for both tourists and locals. Indeed they come to take in the breathtaking views of the mountains, forests, and valleys in the area.

Van Reenen’s Pass is a well-known route for motorcyclists and sports car enthusiasts. Indeed they come to enjoy the road’s difficult terrain and winding roads. And also to its scenic beauty and rich history. Van Reenen’s Pass is a must-see for anyone who loves to drive and appreciates South Africa’s breathtaking scenery. And that regardless of whether you’re an experienced driver or just looking for a scenic drive.

Picture credit: By Peter Black – originally posted to Flickr as DSCF0746, CC BY-SA 2.0,

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