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Trygve Roberts

Trygve Roberts

Friday, 08 October 2021 10:31

Latest News! 14th October, 2021

The week that was...

* Swartberg Classic Tour

* Towns of South Africa - Loxton

* Pass of the week

* New passes added


As you read this newsletter, we will have just finished the Swartberg Classic Tour. This was the third version of this tour and with each new version, we adapt and change the tour to make it more interesting and enjoyable. Over the next few weeks we will be reporting back on the tour with photos and write-ups.

This tour started in the village of Buffelsjagrivier near Swellendam. On the first day we drove the following passes:

  • Moodies Pass
  • Boosmansbos Pass
  • Doringkraal Pass
  • Seekoeigat Pass
  • Wadrift Pass
  • Gysmanshoek Pass
  • Brandrivier Pass
  • Voetpadkloof (Tar)
  • Kruippoort (Tar)
  • Naauwkloof (Tar)
  • Seweweekspoort
  • Bosluiskloof

Day 2 was another pass fest, mostly in the Klein and Groot Swartberg foothills:

  • Huisrivier Pass (Tar)
  • Kruisrivierpoort
  • Huis se Hoogte 
  • Doringkloof Pass
  • Schoemanspoort (Tar)
  • Rust en Vrede Pass
  • Meiringspoort (Tar)
  • Bloupuntrivierpoort
  • Kleinvlei Pass
  • Aapsrivierpoort
  • Kredouw Pass (Tar)
  • Witkranspoort (Tar)

Day 3 was all about quality versus quantity:

  • Swartberg Pass
  • Gamkaskloof Road to Die Hel
  • Elands Pass

Day 4:

  • Coetzeespoort
  • Perdebont Pass
  • Kleinfontein Pass
  • Uitspan Pass
  • Assegaaibosch Pass

We will be running this tour again in 2022. Watch this space.


Towns of South Africa - Loxton

Loxton is a town in the Karoo region of South Africa's Northern Cape province. It is in one of the major wool-producing and one of the largest garlic-producing areas in South Africa.With a population of 1,053 in 2011, the area is quiet and sparsely populated. Afrikaans is the most widely spoken language in the town.

[More lower down]

Wednesday, 06 October 2021 18:58

Thomas Jackson Road (Krugersdorp Hill Climb)

Sandwiched between the Krugersdorp Game Reserve in the west and the Blougat Municipal Nature Reserve in the east,  is a well known road commonly referred to as the Krugersdorp Hill Climb for its use as a hill climb race track, but officially it's called the Thomas Jackson Road.

It consists of several very tight hairpin bends and decends from the northern end of the Delporton industrial business park down to the Percy Stewart waste water treatment works, losing 76m of altitude in just 1,2 km, resulting in a stiff average gradient of 1:16.

The Krugersdorp Aerodrome is located close to the summit of the road. It's also called the Jack Taylor Airfield and Delportonia Airfield.

 

A chat about the Gariep Dam and a look at the phenomenal contribution to road construction by the father and son duo of Andrew and Thomas Bain.

Listen to the interview:

Monday, 04 October 2021 18:28

Steepways Lane

Steepways Lane is a short suburban pass on "The Ridge" in Johannesburg. Despite a miniscule elevation variance of  just 16m and just over one minute to drive it, the little pass resembles the real thing with tight hairpins and steep gradients that reach 1:6. It connects The Ridge Road in the south with Kallenbach Drive in the north.

On the southerly side and over the ridge are the areas of Cyrildene, Observatory and Morninghill, but these suburbs are not visible to Linksfield as they are hidden behind the Linksfield Ridge. The suburb is located on part of an old Witwatersrand farm called Doornfontein.

In 1910, the area was known as Muller's Plantation and it was many years later and after several attempts, before the land was successfully surveyed. It would be proclaimed as suburb on 8 March 1922 and its name is derived from the word Links and its closeness to the nearby Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club. The suburb was developed by Mr. A.M. Kennedy and Hermann Kallenbach. Kallenbach would build a house on Linksfield Ridge in 1929. The Huddlepark Golf Course and Driving Range borders with Linksfield and Linksfield North.

Monday, 04 October 2021 17:10

Latest News! 7th October, 2021

The week that was....

* N1 - the most dangerous road in South Africa

* !Gariep Dam 

* The Bain Legacy (Part 2)

* Podcast

* Pass of the week


N1 - A dangerous road

Having just returned from a return trip by car from Cape Town to Jhb, I thought a little introspection was needed as to what makes this road statistically so dangerous. Having spent 24 hours solid driving in harsh cross-winds in a Suzuki Jimny, between fighting to keep the little 4x4 upright, I had time for some analysis.

The road is generally in a good condition with safety shoulders adding an important margin of safety in avoiding head-on collisions (the main culprit). From Bloemfontein to Johannesburg, most of the N1 is a double laned dual carriageway and presents no serious dangers.

That brings us back to the core of the dangers - very long, straight sections of two way traffic between Colesberg and Laingsburg create boredom and lots of frustration. Most of the trucks (accounting for almost 75% of the traffic) trundle along at 80 kph. This is the biggest factor causing frustration amongst normal cars that tend to travel at the maximum speed limit of 120 kph. Eventually drivers start taking ever greater risks trying to pass the trucks and that's where the wheels literally come off.

The (expensive) solution is to have dedicated truck lanes. There are of course other factors like driver fatigue, unroadworthy vehicles and excessive speed that contribute to the skull and crossbones imagery.


A surprise visit to the !Gariep Dam

A forced business trip up to Jhb by car, allowed me the opportunity to visit the !Gapiep Dam - a destination I have always wanted to visit, but somehow never found the time. What a pleasant surprise! Hidden amongst the flat topped koppies of the Free State is the largest stretch of inland freshwater in South Africa.

As we arrived it looked like a scene from the Greek Islands, with yachts anchored in quiet little bays behind hills with a vast lake stretching away as far as the eye can see. Gariep Dam is actually the official name of the town which sprung up during the construction phase when some 3500 people worked on the construction site. Today it is the newest town in South Africa and is home to about 1800 people. It also plays host to a yacht club and a beautiful campsite and  caravan park.

The Gariep Dam, on its commission in 1971, was originally named the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam after Hendrik Verwoerd, the Prime Minister before and after 31 May 1961, when the country changed from the Union of South Africa to the Republic of South Africa. However, after the end of apartheid, the Verwoerd name was considered unsuitable. The name was officially changed to Gariep Dam on 4 October 1996. 

Gariep is Khoekhoe for "river", the original name of the Orange River

It is in a gorge at the entrance to the Ruigte Valley some 5 kilometres east of Norvalspont. The dam crest is some 1300m above sea level. The wall is 88 m high and has a crest length of 914 m and contains approximately 1.73 million m³ of concrete. The Gariep Dam is the largest storage reservoir in South Africa. In South African English, 'dam' refers both to the structure and the water volume it retains. Gariep Dam has a total storage capacity of approximately 5,340,000 megalitres and a surface area of more than 370 square kilometres when full. The hydro-electrical power station houses four 90 MW generators. The dam if more than 100 km in length. 

Saturday, 25 September 2021 12:57

Latest News! 30th September, 2021

The week that was....

* Flower Power

* The  Bain Legacy (Part 1)

* Interesting South African Towns

* Podcast - Carliseshoekspruit Pass driven during a flash flood.

* Pass of the week

* New passes added


Flower Power

Although we have not been on a flower tour this year, by all accounts it appears to be a good season so far. Guest Houses, hotels, farm stays and lodges have been heavily supported and for many of those small businesses it has literally been manna from heaven. Even caravan parks and campsites have been fully booked over most of the area where the flowers are in bloom.

For those of you who still intend going, the season is almost over as the warm weather settles in. The further south you explore, the more likely you are to see good displays. The West Coast from Melkbos to Paternoster including the Postberg National Park is a good starting point.


The Bain Legacy (Part 1)

This serialised story deals with the phenomenal contribution to road building of the father and son team of Andrew and Thomas Bain.  There are very few complete lists in existence of all the works including railway construction, bridges and other roads (other than passes). The most comprehensive research on this subject that we could find, was that of the late Dr. Graham Ross - a noted 'modern' padmaker himself, who has spent many years of his retirement researching the history of South African roads. Much of what you read here has been adapted from Dr Ross's meticulous research.

1797-1864:

Andrew Geddes Bain was born in Thurso Scotland. He was a pioneer engineer and geologist and earned the tag of "Father of South African Geology". He arrived in the Cape in 1816 aged 19, originally as a saddler in Graaff-Reinet, and later set about finding employment in the construction of roads. See the tables below (at the bottom of this page) for his list of passes built. He also built a bridge over the Fish River during that period. Bain Snr. then tackled the Gydo Pass near Ceres (1848) which he did as a side job, whilst constructing the considered masterpiece at that time, the Michells Pass just south of Ceres.

The most famous pass built by Andrew Bain, was of course his opus magnum, which still stands today and named after him - the Bainskloof Pass (1853). He also built the road north out of Graaff-Reinet  which included the Lootsberg Pass and a series of smaller passes. His final pass was the Katberg Pass (1854), which he was unable to complete. It was completed by Adam de Smidt. 

Tuesday, 21 September 2021 14:00

Latest News! 23rd September, 2021

The Week that was...

* Trips & Tours

* Top 25 towns in South Africa

* Noupoort

* SA Legends - (Ertjies Bezuidenhout)

* Pass of the Week

* Paraprosdokians


Trips & Tours

All our tours for 2021 are fully booked. We are considering running a Ben 10 Tour in the first half of December.

Send us an email if you are interested.


Top 25 towns in South Africa

According to SAVisas.com, these are the top 25 towns worth visiting. Note that the list is in alphabetical order.

This list is not necessarily the choice of MPSA.

  1. Clanwilliam (Western Cape)
  2. Clarens (Free State)
  3. Coffee Bay (Eastern Cape)
  4. Dullstroom (Mpumalanga)
  5. Franschhoek  (Western Cape)
  6. Gariep Dam (Free State)
  7. Graaff-Reinet  (Eastern Cape)
  8. Greyton  (Western Cape)
  9. Hogsback  (Eastern Cape)
  10. Kakamas (Northern Cape)
  11. Montagu  (Western Cape)
  12. Nieu-Bethesda  (Eastern Cape)
  13. Nieuwoudtville (Northern Cape)
  14. Nottingham Road (KZN)
  15. Pilgrim's Rest (Mpumalanga)
  16. Port St Johns  (Eastern Cape)
  17. Prince Albert (Western Cape)
  18. Riebeek Kasteel  (Western Cape)
  19. Sabie (Mpumalanga)
  20. St.Lucia (KZN)
  21. Sutherland (Northern Cape)
  22. Tulbagh  (Western Cape)
  23. Underberg (KZN)
  24. Villiersdorp  (Western Cape)
  25. Wildernesss (Western Cape)

Noupoort

(Featured Town)

The town of Noupoort was laid out on a portion of the farm Caroluspoort, and was administered by a village management board from 1937 and attained municipal status in 1942.

It revolved principally around the railways and is still used as a traction change-over facility from diesel to electric locomotives on the Noupoort-Bloemfontein line. It was serviced by Midlandia, a locomotive complex a few kilometers to the south of town, especially during the diesel era up to the late 1900s. Nowadays it links up with the electric line to De Aar, part of the main artery for iron ore and manganese exports from the Northern Cape through Port Elizabeth Harbour on the south coast.

(Read more...)

A chat about one of the steepest passes in South Africa – the Carliseshoekspruit Pass, which connects the Tiffindell Ski Resort with the village of Rhodes.

Listen to the interview:

Friday, 17 September 2021 08:36

Naauwkloof Pass (R62)

The Naauwkloof Pass on the R62 close to Ladismith  is much more of a poort than a true mountain pass. The 8,3 km long poort offers attractive scenery with 12 gentle bends and easy gradients to make this an enjoyable break along the R62, itself touted as the longest wine route in the world.

Towards the northern end of the poort, the Naauwkloof farm entrance can be seen on the right-hand side when travelling south. There's a valley about a quarter of the way through the poort, followed by an ascent to a false summit (516m) at the 4.5 km mark. From this midway summit the road descends continuously till the end of the poort marked by the crossing of the Stassensleegte River.

Thursday, 16 September 2021 13:38

Berg en Daal - Unusual and interesting passes

We chat about some unusual and interesting passes as well as relate the back story behind Moordenaarskloof in the Eastern Cape.

Listen to the interview:

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Mountain Passes South Africa

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.
 

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