On our last day in Lesotho, we got stopped at one of three road-blocks near Leribe, which is on the outskirts of Maseru. All the goodwill over the previous days, where we had smiled and waved to hundreds of thousands of locals, was instantly negated by the greed of four corrupt Lesotho police officers. This is how they snag innocent tourists into their web of corruption:
They set up a small temporary stop-sign in the middle of the road. The officers then stand about 30 meters away. As you slow down for the stop sign, they beckon you to come forward, where you roll down your window for the standard "show me your driver's licence" routine. The officer then asks why you did not stop at the stop sign. Clever!
View the video at the bottom of this page. >>>>>>>
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.
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.)
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.
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.