What's in the news this week?
* Easter message
* Coverage of days 3 & 4 of the Ben 10 Tour with overview videos
* Podcast (Bastervoetpad Pass)
* Tours updates
* A life lesson from Mark Twain
EASTER - We wish all of our subscribers and followers (currently 19,000!) safe travels this Easter weekend. Make sure you arrive alive and more importantly that you return alive too. Accident statistics over Easter are frightening, so take care and drive defensively. Get off the main routes. Use our master map to plan a slower more interesting, safer and relaxing route to your destination.
Notre-Dame - With the burning of one of the most iconic churches in the world and billions of Euros already being pledged for its reconstruction, we thought it would be fitting to use a simple little country church for our Easter photo, which was taken near the Bastervoetpad Pass. Simplicity itself and a raw beauty in it's own right.
21st April - Merino Monster Tour - Bookings have closed.
17th - 19th May - Great Swartberg Tour - Fully booked.
21st - 23rd June - Thomas Bain Heritage Tour - 5 places left.
September - Ben 10 Eco Challenge (Version 2). 5 days of mud and glory (and maybe some snow). Get your name down on the advance priority list.
October/November - Sani Pass/Lesotho/Katse Dam. 4 days. Get your name down on the advance priority list.
PODCAST - A discussion on some of the challenges facing drivers on Day 2 of the Ben 10 Tour. LISTEN
BEN 10 ECO CHALLENGE TOUR
We take you through Day 3 and the dramatic 4th and final day of the tour when the happenings on Bastervoetpad meant we had to implement a number of alternative arrangements. [More lower down...]
An in-depth discussion on the first day of the Ben 10 Eco Challenge Official Tour including the Fetcani Pass, Wartrail, and Lundin’s Nek Pass.
Listen to the interview:
A chat about pre-trip preparations for the Ben 10 Tour and a focus on the recent floods in the Baviaanskloof and the effect on tourism.
Listen to the interview:
This weeks highlights
* Day 2 of the Ben 10 Eco Challenge Official Tour
* Tours update
* Baviaanskloof flood damage update
* Two new podcasts
The adventurous and sometimes dangerous tour tested our skills and experience to the limits as we struggled with not only our own convoy of 15 vehicles but also two other groups numbering around 10 vehicles who arrived at the western start of Bastervoetpad more or less at the same time. It soon became evident that we needed to assist some of the bikers in other groups, who were taking regular falls on the ascent. [More lower down...]
April 21st - Waboomsberg/Merino Monster - A mostly gravel, one day trip near Ceres of 145 km with one of the main passes being on private land. 5 places open. Bookings close April 17th.
Book online: MERINO MONSTER TOUR
May 17th to 19th - Great Swartberg Tour (1 place open due to a cancellation) - Latest edit: 13h50 Ticket sold!
Book Online: GREAT SWARTBERG TOUR
June 21st to 24th - Thomas Bain Heritage Tour (7 places left)
Book online: THOMAS BAIN HERITAGE TOUR
None of the above trips are suited to camping. No pets allowed (as we enter many nature reserves). Average accommodation costs are approximately R500 per person per night.
This week we offer two new podcasts which include details of the recent Baviaanskloof floods as well as an interview discussion around Day 1 of the Ben 10 Tour. [More lower down]
This is the story of our first official tour of the Ben 10 Eco Challenge from 21st to 24th March, 2019.
We take you from the roots of the conceptualisation of the event through each of the 4 days as well as the epilogue.
Every person planning on doing the challenge should read this story and watch the four piece video set, which shows just how difficult it can get when nature decides to turn against you, and how quickly an adventure can turn into a disaster. It also showcases the incredible scenery and wonderful people that live in the area. Soak it all in.
Last week we gave you an overview of the Ben 10 Eco Challenge Official Tour. This week we look into the first of the four days in more detail which illustrates the human interactions as the large group of people slowly bonded together to form a cohesive unit, taking care of each other, to ensure a successful outcome for all. The full story encompassing 23 chapters will be published over the next 3 weeks and thereafter will be permanently embedded under a separate menu tab on the main Ben 10 page. [More lower down...]
Our next 1 day tour in the Western Cape takes place on Easter Sunday (21st April) and includes 3 gravel and 3 tarred passes in the mountains north of Ceres. The route includes the magnificent Droelandskloof Pass with the anchor pass being the ascent and descent of the Wapadsberg Pass - a major climb to an amazing view-site. The route is suitable for any vehicle with reasonable ground clearance. We still have space left, so if you're looking for something different to do over that long Easter break, bring the whole family along as our prices are per vehicle and not per person. Book online here.
This brand new bespoke tour will take place during June or July over three days starting in George and ending in Patensie. It will include the 7 Passes Road, Gouna Pass, Kom se Pad, Prince Alfred's Pass, Uniondale Poort > Overnight in Uniondale for some spookstories.
Day 2 will route through a southern approach to the stunning Nuwekloof Pass and down into the western Baviaanskloof where we will visit a tree house, the Makedaat caves, a bonsai nursery and negotiate the 8 water crossings through Studtis Poort with an overnight stop at the Zandvlakte guest farm.
Day 3 will be spent exploring the Baviaanskloof eastern bio-reserve and include the passes of Grasnek, Langkop, Holgat and Combrinks with an overnight stop at Bruintjieskraal on the banks of the Grootrivier. The next day a short drive out through the Grootrivierpoort will end the tour at Patensie. No less than 12 of the passes on this tour were either designed or built by Thomas Bain. Bookings for this tour will open in a week's time. The tour is only open to 4WD vehicles.
We also examine the April Fools Day phenomenon and explore the extraordinary success of our April's Fool post on Facebook. At the time of writing the post had 41,778 views over a 72 hour period. Remarkably the post (which took 5 minutes to knock together) ranks as one of our most successful posts ever. Understanding the power of social media is complex with this post knocking all the standard barriers down. [More lower down...]
In keeping with our theme on the challenge passes, we feature another of the big 10 passes in the Eastern Cape Highlands. [More lower down]
* LATEST MEGA PASS ADDED TODAY!
We have a marvellous new pass which is being published today and coincides with the opening of bookings for our next day tour on April 21st.
The pass, which is on private land (but accessible by permit) is known by local mountain bikers as the Merino Monster. It starts at the Merino farm near the summit of the Theronsberg Pass and climbs a whopping 705m in altitude to summit at the top of the Waboomsberg at 1836m ASL revealing magnificent 360 views over the Ceres Valley, Warm and Koue Bokkeveld and the Gydo Plateau.
We have obtained permission to take a tour group up this pass on the Sunday of the Easter weekend (21st). So if you're looking for an adventure of note suitable for the whole family, book a spot as soon as possible. We connect everyone up with 2 way radios which is included in the tour price, but we can only take a maximum of ten vehicles.
Although our tour is called The Merino Monster Tour, the pass is actually called the Waboomsberg Pass (explained on the pass page). The tour will include a stunning circuit of about 100 km which will include the magnificent Droëlandskloof old sheep trekking route, and 4 other major passes.
Next week we will be away on the inaugural Ben 10 Eco-Challenge Official Tour and both the Jhb and Cape Town offices are a hive of activity as all the final arrangements are being resolved. [More lower down]
A discussion around the details of the upcoming Great Swartberg Tour in May 2019.
Listen to the interview:
It is our great pleasure to wish each and every one of you a healthy, prosperous and adventure filled year ahead. We hope that MPSA will be part of your life during the year ahead and beyond. We have lots of wonderful new ideas and concepts for 2019 as we forge ahead with our plans to run the project on a full time basis.
What better way of kickstarting 2019 with an early departure on a pass filming day on January 1st. With perfect filming weather in the Western Cape, the Cape Town crew headed north towards Citrusdal with the idea of refilming some of the passes in that area, and more specifically the trio of passes on the R303 - a long connecting road between Citrusdal and Ceres with a mix of tar and gravel and one of those roads offering incredibly beautiful scenery, but be warned, the road is on the rough side and if it weren't for the 4WD capability of the Suzuki Jimny, we might have had no footage at all.
So with Elandskloof, Middelberg and Buffelshoek passes under the belt, it left just one new pass to locate and film. The pass in question was the Piet Esterhuysen Pass, which is accessed off the R303, but it is one of those passes that falls under that awkward category of a partially deproclaimed road. As is the case with other roads in that category (Sanbona Wildlife Reserve springs immediately to mind) a certain amount of jumping through hoops is required before entry can be obtained. [More lower down]
Saturday,12th January - Fully Booked. You can view past and future tours (when booking opens) at the MPSA Shop.
You can also subscribe (free) to receive Tour updates, which gives you first bite at the cherry.
Our next tour is being formulated as we speak and will probably be scheduled for last weekend of January.
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.