fbpx
Trygve Roberts

Trygve Roberts

Wednesday, 06 July 2022 14:37

Latest News! 7th July, 2022

The week that was...

* Trips & Tours

* Wild Coast V4 Tour Day 6 & 7

* Cartography & myths

* Hole in Wall

* Pass of the week


Trips & Tours

July: The Swartberg Classic Tour (fully booked) starts this Sunday. The weather is looking great!

September: Garden Route Classic (5 days) - 2 tickets still available

October: Seven Sisters Tour (2 days) - Fully booked.

October: 4x4 Novice training day (1 day) - Details to be announced soon. (Western Cape)

November: Kouga Baviaans (4 days) - Details to be announced soon.

May 2023: Wild Coast V6 Tour (11 days) - Fully booked.


Wild Coast V4 Tour - Day 6

Another perfect weather day saw the group departing Cremorne Estates at Port St Johns, heading up the R61 towards Libode over a series of tarred passes, which included Isinuka Poort, Butyabuse Pass, Mngazi River Pass and impressive Tutor Ndamase Pass. Our goal was to drive the Mlengana Pass which allows a close up view of Execution Rock. 

Our cartographers in the early 1900's had mistakenly noted the Mlengana Mountain as Execution Rock. This stems from Xhosa legend when King Faku is said to have thrown his enemies off the rock to certain death and their blood flowed red down the Mngazi River. Once you see this little piece of real estate for yourself, you'll quickly realise that scaling the vertical cliffs of the mountain with or without prisoners would have been close to impossible. Also it is a fair distance away from the river. The real execution rock is a much smaller cliff further down the valley, much closer to the river.  Moral of the story is: Don't believe everything you see on the maps. Still, it's a nice myth that seems set to remain forever. Why spoil a good story with facts?

Our photos and videos done, we continued down the lovely old pass and through the village of Masameni. Instead of returning to Port St Johns via the R61, we went exploring and took this group on a proper recce trip into the mountains. The drive was brilliant, through lofty hills, with attractive villages as well as the Majola Tea Estates, which is not quite as big as Magwa, but a major tea grower in the area.

(Read more...)

Monday, 04 July 2022 06:42

Mnenu River Pass (Wild Coast)

This pass is for the more experienced off-road driver. It is a wonderful shortcut along the main Wild Coast route, cutting out a long section of fairly boring villages and it will save you about an hour on your ETA. The deep valley carved out by the Mnenu River stretches far inland, where the main road loops around to avoid the deep valley. The pass has wonderful scenery but mostly it's obscured by dense bush and lantana which grows about 4m high, hiding the views.

On the flip side of the coin, this pass has a few negatives as well, so before you add it to your bucket list read the full report, as the road has not seen any maintenance in the last two decades; the bridge has been washed away and the bush has encroached over the road substantially.

Your vehicle will get scratched and if it's been raining, there will be plenty of mud in the lower sections near the river. Only drive this pass if you are experienced at off-roading and have a high clearance 4x4 with low range. We would also advise a minimum of two vehicles in case of problems. If you get stuck on this pass, note that there is no mobile reception. Unless you have a sat phone, you'll in for a long walk to get assistance.

Wednesday, 29 June 2022 13:19

Latest News! 30th June, 2022

The week that was....

* Bain's Kloof Pass 

* Tours & Trips

* Escom - a lost cause

* Wild Coast V4 Tour - Day 5

* Podcast

* Pass of the Week

* Plato


Bain's Kloof Pass

Last week we reported that the pass had reopened to normal traffic. Just one day after writing that newsletter a pantechnicon attempted driving over the newly opened pass and got itself horribly stuck, causing some damage to the roadway and retaining walls. We posted the photo (above) on our social media platforms and a storm of comments followed. It would appear that rookie truck drivers relying on GPS instructions are often routed from the N1 via Bain's Kloof Pass. Once they have made the commitment and entered under the gantry with the chains just after the Breede River crossing in the north, it's already too late,  as there is nowhere to turn a large truck around, so they carry on getting themselves ever deeper into trouble.

The question must be raised whether Bain's Kloof Pass should become a toll road, reserved strictly for vehicles under 5 tons, motorcycles and cyclists. There are two safe alternative routes (N1 and R46) for heavy trucks and fast traffic. The new road surface allows for faster speeds. Motocycles might well be heading that way to race their machines around the many curves and corners. A toll road would solve the problem of trucks heading up the pass, plus funds generated could pay for the installation of CCTV camera systems to control grafitti vandals and speed offenders. We would recommend a maximum speed of 40 kph on the pass. The pass is a national monument and although no-one likes a toll road, it seems like a very sound solution. 


Trips & Tours

July - Swartberg Tour - Fully booked

September - Garden Route Classic (5 days) - 3 places left

October - Seven Sisters Tour (2 days) - Bookings have just opened - 8 places left


Eskom

Load shedding has done an enormous amount of harm to our country. It affects the entire population negatively. Reading up on the state of the power utility it seems that Eskom is not trying to raise more capital for increased generating capacity. This is due to the fact that private companies are standing by ready to breach the gap with solar and wind power (many wind farms have been built but are not yet connected to the grid). Eskom will shrink in size in the months and years ahead and become an ever decreasing role player in the power game (pun intended). The sooner the better! 


Wild Coast V4 Tour - Day 5

The day of the waterfalls.

It was time to say farewell to our hosts at Mbotyi River Lodge and head south. We did our 6th traverse of the Mbotyi Pass and drove the short jeep track to the Fraser Falls view point. The feature of this waterfall is that one is not expecting such a dramatic scene after driving through some flat and innocuous meadows. At first glance it looks like the water is pouring out of a hole or tunnel in the mountain, but this is merely an optical illusion.

(Read more...)

Wednesday, 22 June 2022 18:44

Latest News! 23rd June, 2022

The week that was...

* SA Unmasked

* Tours

* Noma 5

* Wild Coast Tour V4 - Day 6

* Podcast

* Pass of the week


SA unmasked

For the tourism and hospitality industry the abolishment of having to wear masks is a significant milestone on the long and bumpy road back to normality. We look forward to seeing people smiling again; to hear voices that aren't muffled; to be able to connect with fellow human beings without all that induced fear. This is a momentous moment and we welcome it with open arms and warm smiles. No more will we see people driving alone in their cars masked up (well, I suppose there will be some die-hards). Let's just leave it there, before I write an essay!


More good news!

Bain's Kloof Pass opened for traffic on the 21st June and our scout on the ground, Kuba Miszewski, reports that the upgrades are excellent. We will be taking our guests over this pass as part of our Seven Sisters Tour in October

Cogmanskloof Pass is also now complete and the whole route from Ashton to Montagu is now open to traffic without any stop-go's. It's been a long wait, but worthwhile. The contractors, Haw & Inglis,  who took over this contract from the insolvent original contractors have done a fantastic job - not only of this historically important pass but the engineering marvel of the arch bridge and its transverse placement, is worthy of high praise. We will be refilming both of these passes within the next week or two.


Tours

  • Bookings for the Wild Coast Tour have been galloping along at a furious pace. This tour is now sold out.
  • The Garden Route Tour has 2 places available. This will be our inaugural tour through this popular part of South Africa. The tour has been designed to offer all the best the region has to offer, with plenty of secret roads and points of interests included. 
  • The Seven Sisters Tour and 4x4 Novice training day will be loaded soon. Watch this space.
  • The Swartberg Tour is fully booked and we are hoping for some snow up in the mountains to add some extra fun. 
  • We are working on a Baviaanskloof or Bedrogfontein Tour for November as well as a novice 4x4 training day in October. Details will be released as soon as we have clarity on the details.

Noma 5

The Xhosa lady known as Noma 5 has been trending via our Facebook page. Last week we mentioned 350,000 views. Believe it or not, that photo has now reached an audience of 1,891,087. It is by far our most successful social media post to date. So how exactly did that happen?

How does one know when you post something that will capture the imagination of a nation? The truth is you don't. It's all hit and miss and posts like this one give us an insight into what the public really enjoy seeing. Once we reached 100,000 followers on Facebook, our page got all sorts of new recognition and benefits from Facebook as well as some privileges we had not enjoyed before. The way the algorithms work is that authentic, original material seems to be king. It's been a long journey getting there, but we've made it. And we most certainly don't stop progressing either. Stemming from that post we have also reached an all time 28 day post reach of 3.6 million. Our next goal is 200,000 followers.


Wild Coast V4 Tour - Day 4

On this tour we had built in rest days for guests to recover from the more physical aspects of the tour. With that in mind we had decided to explore the possibility of visiting the construction site of the new Msikaba Bridge on the new N2 toll road. The idea was that I would probably go on my own as a recce trip, but the moment I mentioned this in the pre-trip communications, there was suddenly a lot of interest.

(Read more...)

We chat about day one of the recent Wild Coast Tour.

Listen to the interview:

We chat about days 2, 3 & 4 of the recent Wild Coast Tour.

Listen to the interview:

We chat about the fourth day of the recent Wild Coast Tour – Msikaba Vulture Colony, Mbotyi, Magwa Falls, Port St Johns Airstrip and more….he Western Cape.

Listen to the interview:

Wednesday, 15 June 2022 17:33

Latest News! 16th June, 2022

The week that was....

* Snow

* Notalubani but her friends call her Noma5. 

* Trips & Tours

* Wild Coast Tour V4 - Day 3

* Podcast - Tulbagh

* Pass of the week


Snow!

The first real cold snap of the winter has arrived with widespread reports of snow from the high lying areas. As always we advise snow deprived South Africans not to go snow-hunting without adequate preparation. Imagine a worst case scenario and pack accordingly. Last year several snow hunters had to be rescued from their vehicles from the Swartberg Pass. Don't be that driver.


The story of Noma5

During our Wild Coast V5 Tour, whilst passing slowly through one of the villages on a very muddy road, we spotted Notabulani standing by the roadside, immaculately dressed, regal and proud. We asked if we could take a photo. The result is what you see on the cover of this newsletter. When we got back, I set to the task of sorting and batching the trip photos. This pic caught my eye and I visualised it as a way of bridging the divide between rural and city and to present the face of the very essence of the Wild Coast. 

Her photo has had over 351,000 views (at the time of writing) in the space of 4 days and will undoubtedly continue to increase over the next few weeks. Even locals have responded saying they know her well. She apparently has a wicked sense of humour and is a great story teller. Our readership has increased dramatically and for the first time in our 12 year history we have exceeded 2 million post views in a 28 day cycle. We are learning some serious lessons about social media and the power within. We'll make a point of tracking her down on our next Wild Coast Tour and present her with a hamper.


Trips & Tours

JULY - The upcoming Swartberg Tour in July promises to be a freezing affair. The tour is fully booked.

SEPTEMBER 2022 - Garden Route Tour (5 days)  - 5 places left. 

OCTOBER 2022 - Seven Sisters Tour (2 days) - To be launched next week.

OCTOBER 2022 - Novice 4x4 training day (1 day) - To be launched soon 

NOVEMBER 2022 - Kouga-Baviaanskloof ( 4 days) - To be launched soon

MAY 2023 - Wild Coast Tour (11 days) - 3 places left

Read more....

Wednesday, 08 June 2022 16:09

Luzube Pass (Wild Coast)

This interesting pass is the gateway to Mpande and Shark's Point - two popular destinations along this section of the Wild Coast. It's a fairly minor pass at 3.1km but it has lots on offer, including sections of indigenous forest, a few villages, a very steep climb and fabulous views towards the coast once you have crested the summit.

The pass climbs 121m from the river crossing to the summit over just 1.3 km producing very steep gradients of 1:5. In wet weather this section will be almost impossible to ascend for non 4WD vehicles. There are also ruts and axle twisters so momentum cannot be used either. But in fair weather it's quite doable in any vehicle.

Mpande is one of the finest beaches along the Wild Coast and a must visit destination. Most of the holiday cottages are located on the northern side of the river. The northern access road is well signposted about 5 km to the NE of the start of the Luzube Pass.

 

 

Wednesday, 08 June 2022 10:02

Latest News! 9th June, 2022

The week that was...

* Changes to our pricing system

* Upcoming Tours

* Wild Coast V4Tour - Day 2 continued

* Mvenyane

* Podcast

* Pass of the week


New tour price structuring explained

Having a number of years tour administration under the belt, we have established that every tour produces a number of solo drivers. One of our strategies that set us apart from the tourism industry is that we originally charged per vehicle and not per person. The reality is that very few vehicles have more than two occupants. The ratio is perhaps one every second tour, whereas the incidence of solo drivers is usually at least 2 on every tour. In an effort to make things more equitable for solo drivers, we have created a single supplement rate, which is about 80% of the old rate. To still make it affordable for vehicles with more than two people, we have a rapidly declining cost curve for that bracket, which is still very affordable - plus we have added in a zero cost for children under the age of 18, which makes the tours more accessible for families. The new system is already in place, so when you book, you will find a drop down menu that looks like this:

1 VEHICLE / 1 PERSON
1 VEHICLE / 2 PERSONS
1 VEHICLE / 3 PERSONS
1 VEHICLE / 4 PERSONS

The system automatically calculates the price according to your category of choice.


Upcoming Tours

We launched our Wild Coast V6 Tour (May 2023) yesterday and already 6 of the 12 places available have been taken. If you want join this incredible adventure, here is the itinerary, pricing and booking link:

WILD COAST V6 TOUR 

The Garden Route Tour is a brand new tour which we are running in September and showcases the best of Thomas Bain's work (including Prince Alfreds Pass, Bloukrans Pass, Grootrivier Pass and Robinson Pass) plus of course all the major passes like Outeniqua and Montagu passes. We have also included the Old Voortrekker Pass from Louvain in the north to Bergplaas in the south to add a small dollop of offroad driving into the mix. The five day tour criss-crosses the mountains from west to east from Mossel Bay to Storms River with many points of interest added in; photographic hotspots, forest walks, animal sanctuaries, great food and first class accommodation. We have 8 places available. Detailed itinerary, pricing and online booking on the link below:

GARDEN ROUTE V1 TOUR

In the middle of July we will be tackling the Swartberg using our unique routing that offers the very best of the beautiful and challenging Swartberg mountain range. The tour starts near Swellendam and includes 39 passes over the 4 days including the big ones - Swartberg Pass, Gamkaskloof/Die Hel, Meiringspoort, Seweweekspoort, Gysmanshoek and Rooiberg passes. This mid-winter tour is going to be special with a good chance of doing some snow driving.

Update: The Swartberg tour is now fully booked.

SWARTBERG CLASSIC TOUR 2022

We have had a number of requests for novice 4x4 training which will only be available for people living in the Western Cape. Details to be published soon.


Read more....

COVID-19 Corona Virus South African Resource Portal

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter with News and Updates from Mountain Passes South Africa
captcha 

Subscribe to our Site

Subscribe for only R425 a year (or R325 for 6 months), and get full access to our website including the videos, the full text of all mountain passes articles, fact-file, interactive map, directions and route files.

Register

 

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.

View Master Orientation Map...