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.
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.
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.
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
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.