Mountain Passes News

What have these people got in common? Willem Muisj, J.C.Tully, George Boyes and F. De Waal?

They were all involved in the developement of the Cape Peninsula's property, rail and road networks in the early 1900's.
Tully was a respected and talented architect; Boyes was the magistrate of Simonstown and Sir Frederick de Waal was Administrator of the Cape. The seaside vilage of Muizenberg was named after Willem Muisj.

We thought we had every single mountain pass covered on the Cape Peninsula, when one of our readers sagely advised us that we had actually missed not one, but three passes! So with our tails between our legs, we toodled off to the deep south last Sunday and filmed the trio of passes over the period of an hour and a half amidst heavy Sunday traffic. We don't often get the opportunity to drive those roads (as we are mainly so busy elsewhere) and it brings home the undoubted privilege of living in the Western Cape. At this time of year the grass is green, the streams and waterfalls are all running and the wildflowers are in bloom everywhere.

Our featured pass today is literaly right under our noses and we explain how the four gentlemen mentioned above fit into the history of this delightful coastal road.......

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Each week we take you to faraway and distant places across our beautiful country and sometimes we uncover little gems right under our noses. This week we introduce you to two passes close to Paarl in the Boland which are inextricably linked by culture and history. One of them is a modern, perfectly designed bit of road engineering with a double chicane bend that ends at the Afrikaans Taal Monument and the other is a much older gravel road, named after an expert wagon builder which provides a lofty view of the Paarl Valley as well as providing access to a wild flower reserve, famous granite rocks, historical relics, hiking trails and mountain bike routes.

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This week we bring you an interesting tale of a wild town that once existed deep in the mountains - of fortunes and misfortunes - of shipwrecks and a city that failed spectacularly right here in South Africa.

Bringing this story to life came from investigating a pass submitted by one of our stalwart supporters from Johannesburg - Mr. Mike Leicester - who told us about a remote gravel track up the mountains in Mpumalanga, in close proximity to the richest gold mine in the world (Sheba) and  only attainable in a high clearance, low-range 4x4.

There at the top of the mountain, lie the ruins of Eureka City. The sinking of the Drummond Castle off Ushant in France inextricably links itself to the lost city of Eureka.

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This week we bring you something completely different as we take you on a 6000 km journey from Cape Town to Caprivi and back in a colourful tapestry of experiences and an ascerbic rookie take on life on the great African plains.

This is a quirky look at a city boy's take on life in the bush and a first time trip into Botswana. There was enough dust on the dashboard to keep a 5 year old busy for hours drawing stick figures (luckily we didn't have a 5 year old or stick figures), but after 3000 fairly boring kilometres from Cape Town via Calvinia, Kenhardt, Keimoes, Upington , Kathu (where a passing bakkie hurled a fair sized stone up which smashed our windscreen), Tshabong, Khakea, Kang, and Ghanzi we finally reached Maun at midday on the third day of travelling through the most featurelessly boring and flat terrained country I have yet seen. There is good reason for this – it’s to prepare you for some wildly exciting, adrenaline charged camping, once you reach Northern Botswana.

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This week, as we enjoy the coldest part of the winter, it's time to get out of the city and savour some fine Karoo air. We introduce you to an obscure, but fabulous gravel road in the Karoo, which plays host of a poort, a pass and a nature reserve. It provides instant relief from the rigours and dangers of the N1 for those who are not in a rush. 

You might have noticed that we try to include a road number for each pass or poort on the website. These numbers will help you to identify that you are on the correct road, when the lady on your GPS is confused and keeps on saying: "Recalculating..."

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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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