The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Van Reenens Pass

Afrikaans name: Van Reenenspas

Van Reenens Pass offers some superb scenery

Beautiful scenery along Van Reenens Pass

Photo © Steven Herbert

KwaZulu-Natal

Van Reenens Pass is about 36 km in length and climbs from about 1100 metres to a peak of 1768 metres above sea level. It links KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State with the main road being the N3 highway. This is the main route between the interior of South Africa and Durban and the N3 is very busy road, particularly during public and school holidays.

The road winds through the mountains and offers some splendid scenery. Weather can be a bit unpredictable with strong winds, snow and hail at times. Every so often the Pass is closed to traffic because of the conditions.

At the top of the pass is the little village of Van Reenen. The town and pass are named after Frans van Reenen who owned the farm where the town is now located.

Is Van Reenens pass open today?

There are times during the year, particularly in winter, when the pass might be closed. This is often caused by snow or a particularly bad accident. It is best to check in advance particularly if there is extreme weather around. You can follow Twitter account @vanreenenspass for updated information.

N3 Durban to Johannesburg

The N 3 is one of the main arteries of the South African road network. It is an extemely important road for trucks moving containers and other goods from the port of Durban to Johannesburg. The N3 also allows travellers from Johannesburg a reasonably quick way to get to the many attractions of KwaZulu-Natal. Van Reenens Pass is just short of halfway when travelling from Durban. The top of the pass also marks the border between the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State. There are two main stopping places at the top of the pass where one can buy food and drinks, get petrol and stretch ones legs.

Van Reenens Pass

Photo © Steven Herbert

Most people using Van Reenens Pass are doing so purely with the objective of getting from A to B (or B to A). They do not spend time in the area which is unfortunate. Besides the scenery there are a number of places of interest to visit and there are many places to stay or to enjoy a meal.

The N3 highway snaking its way through Van Reenens Pass

Photo © Steven Herbert

References and further reading

Southern Africa from the Highway - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1991 - Page: 72

On Route - A region by region guide to South Africa - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Published: 1995 - Page: 154

Readers Digest Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa - 4th edition - Author: - Published: 1986 - Page: 387

Hit the Road - 2nd Edition - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2018 - Page: 205

Conollys Guide to Southern Africa - 2nd edition - Author: Denis Conolly - Published: 1982 - Page: 238


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