This is one of the longest passes on the tarred A3 route between Maseru and Mohale at 18.3 km. Although the average gradient is a mild 1:40, those numbers are diluted by the long plateau section in the middle. The reality is that the gradients get steep at either end - as steep as 1:6.This is another high altitude pass reaching a maximum of 2642m ASL. The pass is also commonly called the Blue Mountain Pass. This is one of the coldest parts of Lesotho in winter and summer.
There are plenty of bends, corners and curves to keep you busy - a total of 95 of them and of those 12 are greater than 90 degrees, which include two hairpin bends.
The road is in a good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, but the usual Lesotho cautionaries apply of ice and snow on the road in winter, free roaming livestock, slow moving trucks and the ubiquitous herdsmen. The area can be subject to severe electrical storms in the summer months.
Langersnek is an official pass located on a secondary gravel road (the S385) in the eastern Free State highlands. Although the pass itself is not particularly memorable, the road does traverse right through the middle of the Moolmanshoek Private Game Reserve, offering spectacular sandstone mountain scenery and an excellent opportunity to do some free game viewing.
The road surface is in a reasonable condition and can be driven in any vehicle, except in really bad weather. It has not been possible to establish the origins of the name of this pass, but it is probably derived from the original owner of the farm on the north-eastern side, or perhaps from a local hero of the Anglo-Boer War. The spelling of this pass is taken from the official government maps, but locally the name is always spelled as “Langesnek”.
* New winter tours
* Report back on the Thomas Bain Heritage Tour (including an update on Angie's)
* South African History ~ Chapter 10
* Podcast of the week
* Pass of the week
* New passes added
* Words of wisdom by Sir Richard Burton
We have just opened bookings for two brand new tours during the month of August. Want to shrug off those winter city blues? There's is no finer way than getting out into nature.
August 17th & 18th - Back of Beyond Limpopo Tour. This two day weekend tour covers some beautiful mountain passes and a whole brace of nature reserves. Overnight in style and comfort without a care in the world. R1995 per vehicle. Bring friends and family and save as we charge per vehicle and not per person. Your guide will be Mike Leicester. Max 6 vehicles. 4x4 / high clearance mandatory. For more details take the link: Back of Beyond Limpopo Tour.
August 23rd to 25th - Cederberg Classic Tour. A three day exploration of the 175000 ha. Cederberg Wilderness area, taking in all the best points of interests. Wildflowers, waterfalls, old churches, historical grave sites, remote mountain villages, Rooibos plantations, several major gravel passes, river crossings, wine tasting, craft beer breweries, superb country food and four star accommodation. R4495 per vehicle. Guided by Trygve Roberts. Max 10 vehicles. Open to any high clearance vehicle (4x4 or 4x2). For full details on online bookings take this link: Cederberg Classic Tour.
September 21st to 24th - Ben 10 Eco Challenge V2 Tour. This legendary tour packed with jaw dropping scenery and some of the trickiest gravel road driving in South Africa will be the experience of a lifetime. Ten challenge passes will be driven over 4 days, whilst evenings will be spent at our base for this tour - the 3 star Mountain Shadows Hotel. Open only to 4x4 vehicles, with low range and adequate ground clearance. Drivers must have two years off-road driving experience. Max 10 vehicles. R6750 per vehicle. (Only 4 places open). There will be two guides on this trip to ensure your safety and successful completion of the challenge. For more information and online bookings go here: Ben 10 Eco Challenge V2 Tour.
September 27th to 24th - Lesotho-Sani Tour. If you want to experience Lesotho's high altitude passes and mind blowing scenery coupled with a drive down the Sani Pass, whilst it's still gravel, then this tour is for you. This tour can be done in any 4x4 (a requirement for Sani Pass) and there's a good chance we might experience snow on this tour. This tour is suitable for novice and intermediate drivers. Experience the engineering marvels of the Katse Dam and overnight in quality lodges. There will be two guides on this trip to ensure your safety and peace of mind. R5965 per vehicle. There is 1 place open. For more information and online bookings go here: Lesotho-Sani Tour.
Report back: Thomas Bain Heritage Tour - Day 1 (Part 2)
After a hearty lunch at Totties Country Kitchen at Rheenendal we left the tar briefly to descend down Thomas Bain's first pass of the 7 Passes Road - the Phantom Pass, so named after the Phantom moth that proliferates there, smothering the Knysna River valley in a beautiful display of gray and blue once a year. [More lower down...]
A chat covering Day 2 of the Thomas Bain Heritage Tour.
Listen to the interview:
The week that was and still is!
* Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey!
* Trips & Tours
* Thomas Bain Heritage Tour report back
* South African History - Chapter 9
* Featured pass of the week
* New passes added this week
* Words of wisdom
Brrrrr! Up in Gautengaleng temperatures today have plummeted to below zero, with decent snowfalls being recorded on all the major mountain ranges from the Hexriver mountains in the west to the Drakensberg in the east. Lesotho really got clobbered with the main route (A1) to Afriski being closed on Monday. Each year the snow draws visitors in their thousands and as always we issue a cautionary about snow driving. South Africans in general have little or zero snow driving experience. It is different to any other type of off-road driving, so think carefully before you rush out to experience the snow in your brand new 4x4.
1. Don't travel alone
2. Go prepared for an emergency. Pack blankets, dry clothes, beanies, gloves, emergency food, hire a satellite phone, record emergency assist numbers.
3. Know your limitations. Just because you are in a 4WD vehicle does not make you invincible. Think ahead.
4. Invest in snow chains and know how to fit them.
5. Be aware of the dangers of black ice (rhime ice) on tar. No traction means its like driving a vehicle on ice skates. Steering makes no difference. Your vehicle will slide in a straight line down the easiest route (which is usually down a cliff).
The expression 'cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey' is not rude at all. It comes from the days of the big sailing ships that carried cannons. The iron cannon balls were stacked in pyramids on a brass plate (brass to prevent the iron balls from rusting). This plate was called a "monkey" by the mariners. When the ship sailed into very cold weather, the iron cannon balls would contract faster than the brass and would end up popping off the monkey and around the deck. Thus the expression. There are a number of sources that claim this story to be "twak" but it sounds very plausible, so we'll roll with it for now!
August 9th -11th & 23rd - 25th: We are offering 2 tours during August. One in the Cederberg (23rd-25th) and the other up north in Limpopo Province ober the long weekend (9th to 11th). Check our shop and tours page later this week for more details. Bookings have just opened for the Cederberg Classic Tour.
September 21st to 24th The Ben 10 Eco Challenge V2 Tour - 4 places left.
September 27th to 29th The Lesotho-Sani Tour - 1 place left.
October or November - Wild Coast Tour - A multiple day tour taking you places you can only dream of and taking in some of SA's biggest gravel passes. Details will be published soon.
Thomas Bain Heritage Tour - Every tour we do, seems to be 'the best tour ever' and this one certainly felt like it deserved that tag. We met in the dreamy village of Wilderness and soon had our group kitted out with radios. During the introductions one of our guests introduced himself as Andre "I'm an undercover agent for SARS" That would set the tone of humour for the next three and a half days. [More lower down...]
A chat about the first day of the Thomas Bain Heritage Tour.
Listen to the interview:
Kranspoort is a beautiful little poort located to the west of Fouriesburg, a small town situated very close to the Lesotho border in the eastern Free State. The scenery in this area is breath-taking, with magnificent sandstone mountains interspersed with rivers, dams, pastures, orchards, and the ever-present poplar trees which seem to have made this corner of the country their special domain.
The road through the poort is in a relatively bad condition and is poorly maintained, like so many other backwater roads in the Free State, but can still be driven in any vehicle provided that there has not been heavy weather. The poort is named after the original farm through which it traverses.
Our research was unable to reveal who Mr. Daneel was after whom this pass was named, but it can safely be assumed he was a prominent person in the area - probably a farmer, magistrate, politician or other public figure. This road is in good condition and far quieter than the N2 which parallels it 4 km to the south.
The road essentially follows the spine of a low ridge and consists of 13 bends, corners and curves, none of which are particularly sharp. There is a modest altitude variance of 118m over its 6.3 km length producing a gentle average gradient of 1:53 with the steepest part being on the eastern side at 1:10.
The tarred surface is good and it's suitable for all vehicles. Be on the alert for slow moving farm vehicles.
The Tlaeeng Pass has a fairly minor altitude gain of 140m and only one hairpin chicane section. Other than those, the pass is easy enough to traverse, but what makes this pass stand out from the rest is it's maximum altitude of 3262m which makes it the 2nd highest pass in Lesotho. This road is also known as the Oxbow-Mapholaneng Road.
Together with the Moteng, Mahlasela and Khalo La Lithunya Passes, it forms a quartet of altitude gaining passes on the A1 route between Butha Buthe and Mokhotlong. The main point of interest occurs at the southern end of the pass which is the Letseng Diamond Mine.
Another absolute winner, but the week before the tour showed alarming weather forecasts. As always the show goes on regardless of the weather. With a major frontal storm scheduled to arrive over Cape Town on Friday and Saturday, with gale force winds and bitterly cold temperatures forecast of 1C for Willowmore, we sent out an urgent bulletin to our guests to come well prepared for bad weather.
The reality was a beautiful, sunny and warm morning of around 22C on day 1 rising to 25C later in the day with the Saturday and Sunday being cooler, but very pleasant and certainly nowhere near the 1C predicted. Water levels in the Baviaanskloof were quite acceptable and all our vehicles (which included two Suzuki Jimnys) made it through the route without any problems or mishaps. Over the next few weeks we will bring you several instalments of the highlights of this tour. This is another tour which we will definitely repeat again.
The final day of the Swartberg Tour involved a repeat of the Elands Pass and the Gamkaskloof but in the opposite direction. It's so interesting that a pass looks completely different when driving it in the opposite direction and at a different time of day. We were at the Teeberg viewsite by 10.30 and then tackled those magnificent switchbacks down Mullerskloof past Droewaterval and the Wall of Fire. Our weather was unseasonably good with the only damper being the dust (if you'll pardon the oxymoron).
A brief stop at Prince Albert for fuel and figs (in that order) saw us back on the road on the way to the magnificent geology waiting for us in Meiringspoort and a short stop at the famous waterfall with its 9m deep pool. After De Rust we cut west all along the foothills of the Swartberg mountains (mainly to avoid all the roadworks on the Oudtshoorn/De Rust road) along a delightful gravel road that included the Rust & Vrede Pass. It connected us with the main road to the Cango Caves and Schoemanspoort and then back towards Calitzdorp on the old cement road and on to tackle the Rooiberg Pass.
[More lower down...]
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.