Winter has truly gripped South Africa with a vengeance with wild weather being reported from all corners of the nation. Imagine a tornado with severe hail in Kempton Park in July, with flooding in KZN and heavy snow clean across all the major mountain ranges. The drought has now virtually been broken nationwide, with overflowing dams to be seen everywhere and even the beleaguered Western Cape has received excellent rainfall which will soon reflect in vastly improved dam levels. Perhaps only the Northern Cape is still under the drought kosh. More about that later....
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Your Western Cape film crew have just returned from a thoroughly enjoyable and fascinating excursion deep into the Northern Cape from Nieuwoudtville to the Richtersveld - in the process capturing 37 passes for the website, which will appear over the next few months.
Our overall impression of the Northern Cape after criss-crossing it from north to south and east to west was a province of stark contrasts. Our routing started at Niewoudtville......
As this news release hits cyberspace, the Cape Town video crew are almost wrapping up their latest filming tour through the Northern Cape. This will bring the website virtually up to date with all of the provinces reaching close to 80% completion and some of the provinces are already at 100%.
This could not possibly have happened without the efforts of Mike Leicester, who joined forces with your editor about two years ago, greatly adding to the technical quality as well as the rate of production which has more than doubled.
The Northern Cape trip routing planning was complicated and will include the towns of Nieuwoudtville, Garies, Kamieskroon, Springbok, Lekkersing, Vioolsdrift as well as the Namaqualand National Park and the Richtersveld, the latter which has no less than six passes within it's borders. In all 35 passes will be filmed over 8 days, bringing the Northern Cape's tally up to the national standard.
Our featured pass this week is however in the Eastern Cape and offers a sublime drive through a beautiful nature reserve and we take a closer look at the Blinkwater Monster.
With Lesotho in our sites for early 2017, the website will eventually display over 730 passes and poorts towards the end of 2017. It is the only website of its kind in the world and we are delighted that we can still bring this huge font of knowledge to our readers completely free of charge. Your ongoing support and an ever increasing readership allows us to attract advertisers to keep this gentle financial balance.
From time to time in our travels across the length and breadth of this great land of ours, we uncover some great passes. Today we feature one of those. This big, gravel pass offers dense sections of indigenous forests, pine and bluegum plantations, steep gradients, exceptional mountain views, a wide range of flora and fauna, waterfalls, dams and a picture perfect rural village.
The pass gives access to some of the finest hiking, walking and MTB trails and starts or ends high in the misty reaches of the Amathola mountains. To add to these multiple attractions, not many people know about it either. You'll have the place to yourself.
Today we move out of the Eastern Cape and head towards KZN, where our Jhb based film crew have been busy catching up on unfilmed passes mostly near the Drakensberg escarpment. Our featured pass has a long history that goes back beyond both Anglo Boer wars and not surprisingly the basic route of this long and dangerous pass was originally nothing more than a game path formed by hundreds of thousands of migrating animals heading south into the warmer climes of KZN in winter and then back into the Free State for the sweet grasses that the summer grazing has on offer.
The pass takes us through a small village and what is reputed to be the smallest Roman Catholic church in the world - The Llandaff Oratory.
We remain in the Eastern Cape this week with our featured pass offering access to what is arguably South Africa's oldest and most famous mountain top village. This is the land of hobbits, fairies, ghosts and enchanted forests where "Lord of the Rings" type mystical forest settings lure visitors year in and year out.
The Eastern Cape has less than half the total number of passes than the Western Cape, but within those 102 passes there is the most incredible variety to choose from. Our featured pass today is just one of those special passes - peppered with sharp corners, beautiful views and shrouded almost entirely within a forest canopy.
Mountain Passes South Africa is a website dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.
Passes are classified according to provinces and feature a text description, Fact File including GPS data, a fully interactive dual-view map and a narrated YouTube video.
We are as passionate about maps as we are about mountain passes. A good map is a thing of beauty that can transport you into the mists of time or get your sense of adventure churning. It is a place to make discoveries about deserts and seas, mountains and lakes; of roads leading into places you have not been before; a place to pore over holiday destinations or weekend camping trips. A map is your window to the world.