It's officially mid-winter and what better time to escape to new places right here in sunny South Africa, at very affordable prices. Today we let you into one of the best kept nature reserve secrets, deep in the forests and cliffs of the mighty Amathola mountains near Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape, where wild animals still rule the roost and a really wonderful gravel pass takes one to the summit of the escarpment.
This is true 'Frontier Country' which once marked the eastern border of the then Cape Colony. Drive with us through this majestic landscape of dolorite cliffs and Afro-montane forests as we unveil yet another fabulous mountain pass to add to your bucket list. The good news is, it can be driven in a normal car.
It's very seldom that our Thursday news release co-incides with a public holiday - And what better way to spend an hour of your day exploring some of the lesser known passes of South Africa. We take you into the remote and fabled Lost Valley of the Drakensberg in KZN where two decades ago, the Sunday newspapers exploited the families who had lived there with inaccurate and misleading accounts of their isolated lifestyle. Our local expert historian, Gillis van Schalkwyk, explains the truth. It makes for a fascinating read.
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Todays featured pass is a virtually unknown gravel pass that offers a big altitude gain, sharp corners, slow and technical driving, fabulous scenery, a waterfall, a traverse through a natural heritage site and the option of returning via a remote and spectacular kloof with over one hundred water diversion channels.
During our recent Eastern Cape filming trip, this pass was one of the real gems and we highly recommend it to any adventure traveller. It is driveable in a normal car, although cars with very low ground clearance might have an issue. Watch the videos and decide for yourself.
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Today we drive into the sleepy little Karoo village of Nieu Bethesda, where two prominent artists helped to revive this forgotten little piece of heaven into a thriving community. The late Helen Martins immortalised the town with her concrete and ground glass sculptures of owls, angels and camels, which is today the major tourism drawcard for the village. The tourism boards proudly state that it is the "OWL ROUTE". The other famous artist is playwright Athol Fugard who wrote many of his internationally acclaimed plays in this village. There are four different passes that lead into this village and we drive one of them today.
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There are certain mountain passes that leave a powerful memory in one's subconscious. Of the 54 passes and poorts we filmed during our recent Eastern Cape trip, one stands out head and shoulders amongst the paved passes. This out and back tarred pass offers breathtaking scenery and since it falls entirely within the boundaries of a national park, you also get the opportunity to spot wild-life in a pristine mountain environment. It lies close to the Jewel of the Karoo - Graaff Reinet. Put this one on your bucket list!
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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.