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We get lots of help with our passes project from researchers, historians, travel writers and road engineers. On Saturday last week, we had the privilege of meeting our favourite road engineer, Graham Ross, at his home in Somerset West. Graham has patiently guided and mentored our project with a wonderful sense of patience and diplomacy. A lot of Graham's lifetime worth of experience has gone into research and he has shared his invaluable collection of statistics as well as some lovely stories, many of which have been crafted into a rich tapestry of tales about South Africa and it's developement over the last 300 years. He has given us access to all of this and many tales, facts and figures are reproduced on this website with his blessing. Do yourself a favour and find yourself a copy of Graham's excellent book: "The Romance of the Cape Mountain Passes" It's a book you will refer to many times over the years. [ISBN 978-1-920289-51-5] Sunbird Publishers.

Graham Ross
Graham Ross - 'Padmaker' of note.




We have a few more interesting Northern Cape passes for you to cyber drive this week: [ Click the READ MORE button for the hyperlinks]

Published in Mountain Passes News

The Rooiberg Pass is one of those "off the radar" passes that has very low traffic volumes. The reason for that is the much better and faster tarred roads offering alternative routes in that area. But if you want to get to the metropolis of Van Wyksdorp which is tucked away in a valley in the Little Karoo, this is one of the passes that will get you there if you happen to find yourself quaffing fine port in one of Calitzdorp's eateries. It's a real gem of a pass and begs the attention of the adventure traveller. It's also long, dusty, bumpy and challenging in places. (Click the READ MORE button for the details and hyperlink)

Published in Mountain Passes News

We're back from another 10 day pass filming expedition in the Southern Cape with lots of HD footage of some magnificent South African mountain passes. This time round we were blessed with perfect weather for filiming and only one rainy day. The Western Cape experienced some severe flooding just one week before we started this trip, which meant some of the smaller passes were still closed. This week we kick things off with what we call the BMW pass for it's "sheer driving pleasure" {Expand this page to read more and access the link}

Published in Mountain Passes News

As the year of 2013 winds its way inexorably towards the Christmas season, we have been very productive in the production of a range of videos following our Lesotho/Eastern Cape trip. Of interest is the enormous popularity of the Lesotho Police Corruption video, which has just passed the 5,000 view mark this morning. That is 5000 more people who know how best to deal with Lesotho road blocks. The video has drawn wide attention and I have had been informed that government officials in Lesotho are taking it seriously - despite the fact that they have not yet made any contact with me. A large hotel and lodge group within Lesotho have contacted me and promised to escalate the issue high up in local government. So, it would seem that the pen is indeed mightier than the AK47.

We have produced a range of videos covering some interesting places. Hyperlinks are provided below (scroll down) : There's lots more to look forward to over the next few weeks with some major passes waiting in the wings for your enjoyment.

Published in Mountain Passes News

Even the best laid plans go wong. Our 57 passes we scheduled for filming were not to be, but we did get 30 done, including, Moodies Pass, Gysmanshoek, & Muiskraal in the Heidelberg/Riversdale area.  The culprit was unseasonal rain. After an overnight stop in Port Elizabeth where we were able to see a privately restored 1937 Bentley Tourer.

Published in Mountain Passes News

The Land Cruiser is packed and the Mountain Passes team is ready to roll on our biggest pass filming expedition to date. We are planning to film 57 passes in 13 days - travelling 4500 km through the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KZN, and Lesotho. If we get sufficient good footage in Lesotho, we might open a new tab on the website under LESOTHO, as we get many requests from viewers about conditions in the high altitude land-locked kingdom. Keep a look-out for our convoy of six 4x4's and the specially branded Land Cruiser in pic. We have the expert 4x4 enthusiast and experienced offroad biker Geoff Russell with us. I probably have the best job in the world!

There will be no updates to the site until early November due to the expedition, but we promise lots of high quality HD footage and new material during November and December. Our target was to have the site 100% complete by December 2013, but.......?????

We would like to welcome all our new subscribers on board. We promise you the most comprehensive mountain pass website in the world and it's made right here in sunny SA!

For those interested in the details, the following passes are on our to do list: (Some nice obscure ones amongst that lot that we dug up from our 1:50,000 maps.)

Published in Mountain Passes News

The French missionaries were a tough and resourceful bunch in the 1700 & 1800's. Some failed and went back to France, but a few stuck things out in this water scarce, mountainous region at a small (and often unreliable) natural spring, where they set out to bring Catholicism to the local San people. They called the spot Pella. Two of these missionaries, with no building skills and armed only with a photograph of a similar church in France, set about building a cathedral no less, in the dusty little village using their bare hands, local products and cement carted in by ox-wagon. The result is truly astounding and has been there for 150 plus years.

Published in Mountain Passes News

There is a wondereful book for mountain pass fans called "The Romance of the Mountain Passes of the Cape". It was written by retired roads engineer and 'padmaker' Graham Ross and is now in it's 5th edition. It contains wonderful stories about South African history and the role the passes played in the development of our nation. I call Graham from time to time for guidance and technical advice. This week he sent me this lovely old black and white photo of his family on a camping excursion circa 1950, which shows the family car - an Austin A70 Station Wagon, with an Andy sailing dinghy on the roof and the trusty sloped roof Gypsey caravan in tow.

Published in Mountain Passes News

Today, Cape Town has had it's first taste of summer! At last!!!!

Researching the history of the Piekenierskloof Pass was almost as enjoyable as driving it. Only recently opened to traffic after a 2 year revamp, the commercial  importance of this big pass on the main N7 route between Cape Town and Namibia cannot be underestimated. It started life as an elephant track over the neck in the mountains, then graduated slightly into a wagon route of extreme proportions, known as the Breakneck Pass.

Published in Mountain Passes News

We're back from a 'dirty weekend' in the Tankwa Karoo in one of the worst weather systems in decades. It was exciting driving hundreds of kilometers over soggy, muddy roads with only 4x4's and bakkies to be seen. We managed to get nine passes filmed including

Published in Mountain Passes News

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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.
 

Master Orientation Map

Master Orientation Map 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.

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