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Korfnek

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Donkey cart in Tonteldoos Donkey cart in Tonteldoos - Photo: Mike Leicester

Korfnek is a part of a rough track which forms a shortcut between Dullstroom and Stofberg in the high mountains of Mpumalanga, very close to the border with Limpopo. The name translates as “Basket Neck”. It was named after the Korf family who farmed near the foot of the pass.  The pass itself and the approach road from the northern side are in an extremely poor condition, and it is obvious that the route is not being maintained by the authorities but probably only by the local farmers. 

The use of a high-clearance vehicle with all-terrain tyres is strongly recommended, and a 4x4 will be required during or immediately after wet weather. The route offers up some splendid views over the Laersdrifspruit Valley, but drivers will be unlikely to experience these as extreme concentration is required when traversing this pass.

 

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[Video cover photo by Trygve Roberts]

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Digging into the details: 

Getting there: To approach from the north, start of in Stofberg (Laersdrif) at GPS coordinates S25.367135 E29.856080. Travel in a southerly direction along a very rutted gravel road for 15.4 km to S25.371495 E29.972003, which is the northern start point. To approach from the south, start off in Dullstroom at GPS coordinates S25.421320 E30.101530. Travel north along Mare Street for 350 metres, then turn left into Blue Crane Drive. After 210 metres, turn right into Bosman Street, then follow this road towards Tonteldoos for 13.8 km to S25.381757 E29.994074. Turn left at this point; this is the southern start of the pass. 

Farmstead at TonteldoosFarmstead at Tonteldoos / Photo: Mike Leicester

We have filmed the pass from south to north in the descending mode. Starting off at the intersection with the Dullstroom / Tonteldoos route, the road heads directly west through a small hollow, then meanders through a couple of shallow bends before dipping down towards a large farm called “Hemel Op Aarde”, which is prominent on the skyline up ahead. At the 1 km mark, just after passing the farm entrance, the road bends sharply to the right through 90 degrees, then the true descent begins in earnest.  

The heading now changes into the north-west, and the gradient becomes a lot steeper as the road descends down into the Laersdrifspruit Valley. The road surface is quite reasonable at the top of the pass, but becomes a lot more rutted and rocky the further down you go. There are a number of deep gullies and washaways caused by water runoff, so travel slowly and be prepared to brake suddenly if required. Some of these obstacles could be obscured by shadows, depending on the time of day. Sharp rocks litter the surface, hence our recommendation that you should have all-terrain tyres fitted to your vehicle. Deflating your tyres to 1.4 bar or less will ensure a more comfortable ride, better traction and a reduction in the likelihood of a puncture.  

Old sign at Korfnek evidences lack of interest by local authoritiesAnother forgotten road / Photo: Mike Leicester

At the 2.5 km mark, the road bends back towards the west through a long shallow arc of 90 degrees as it traverses past the entrance to the farm “Middelkraal”, prominently identified by two large stone gateposts. Once past this entrance, the road straightens up again for 250 metres as it heads down towards a large copse of trees which signal the end of the pass at the 3 km mark. Continue straight onwards to reach Stofberg which is about 15 km from this point, but you should be aware that the road condition deteriorates considerably for the next 5 km or so directly after the end of the pass.  

Tonteldoos is a tiny hamlet, situated about 8 km from the pass, which has gained a certain notoriety primarily because of its name which sounds to a South African ear like a swearword. When translated to English, however, it has a far more innocent meaning, which is “tinderbox”, a small container used to carry materials and tools such as flint and a striker to start a fire. Legend has it that the name was derived when the local land surveyor lost his tinderbox whilst pegging out the town limits back in 1883. The village is sometimes referred to as the scruffy little brother of Dullstroom (21 km away), but this is patently unfair, as the town has now established a charm and flair all of its own.  

Standing jokeEven the residents don't know where it is! / Photo: Pinterest

For most of the year, the little village basks quietly in the glory and splendour of the valley in which it is situated, but every so often it comes alive when it is invaded by the various festivals and events for which it is becoming increasingly popular. These include the Cullinan2Tonteldoos 24-hour Ultra MTB race, the Country Festival and the Tonteldoos Highlands Festival. This Scottish games event was established back in 1996 and attracted over 6000 people to the 2017 edition; unfortunately the 2018 event, scheduled to be held over the Easter weekend, was cancelled due to various issues including a lack of sponsorship, but there is no doubt that the festival will bounce back strongly once again in the future.  

There are a number of accommodation establishments in the town, ranging from self-catering to full board, as well as a few shops and pubs. These include the Thirsty Walrus, which is located in the “Tonteldoos Mall” (so-called by the locals because it has the only ATM in town), and the Highside Tavern, which has on its premises a vintage motorcycle museum, located a short distance up the street to the north. The owner is an enthusiastic biker, and he is more than willing to share his encyclopaedic knowledge of the area or to organise a tour for the many adventure motorcyclists that flock to the town, itching to ride the network of challenging gravel routes and passes in the region including, of course, Korfnek.  

[This pass was submitted by Johann Kritzinger ] 

[Text & video footage by Mike Leicester]

 


Fact File:

GPS   START

S25.381774 E29.993962

GPS   SUMMIT

S25.381774 E29.993962

GPS   END

S25.371495 E29.972003

AVE   GRADIENT

1:16

MAX   GRADIENT

1:7

ELEVATION   START

1898m

ELEVATION   SUMMIT

1898m

ELEVATION   END

1721m

HEIGHT   GAIN/LOSS

177m

DISTANCE

3 km

DIRECTION - TRAVEL

North-West

TIME   REQUIRED

6 minutes

SPEED   LIMIT

60 kph

SURFACE

Gravel

DATE FILMED

28.04.2018

TEMPERATURE

18C 

NEAREST   TOWN

Dullstroom (18 km)


Route Map:

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From Address:


Route files:

||Click to download: Korfnek (Note - This is a .kmz file which can be opened in Google earth and most GPS software)

 

 

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