Come hell or high-water!
The next time someone tells you to "Go to hell" you should gratefully accept, but make sure it's to our featured pass this week. There are a wide range of passes all over South Africa, which venture around the periphery of Hades or some or the other demonic or ghoulish connotation. Most of them were named with a distinct sense of humour and others were actually quite serious.
A few passes that spring to mind are Die Hel at Gamkaskloof (one of our most popular pages on the website); Satan's Nek in the Eastern Cape, Helshoogte near Stellenbosch, Hel se Kloof Pass near Nieuwoudtville, and another two Helskloof passes in the Northern Cape.
Then there are witches in the Hexrivier Pass and the Devils Bellows near Katberg, whilst Garies has the taste of blood (Bloedsmaak) up the Skuinshoogte Pass. There is fraud, robbery and murder at Bedrogfontein, Moordenaarsnek, and Robbers Pass, whilst snakes plague the Slanghoek valley, but in the Overberg life is a little more balanced in the Hemel and Aarde valley. All in all our passes names reflect the trials and tribulations of a hard life, taming South Africa.
Today, we explore one of the passes into the proverbial gateway to hell - and this one is also the most atmospheric and creepy of the whole bunch.
This week we take you into the mountains around Cradock in the Eastern Cape to drive one of the best gravel passes we know of. This one is a tandem pass, consisting of a lovely, winding and beautifully scenic kloof (12 km), which seamlessly transforms into a major mountain pass 8 km), covering a total distance of just over 20 km .
This is the land of mohair, mutton, cattle and local heroes and heroines, where some very famous folk hail from - amongst others Olive Schreiner, Sir John Cradock and in more recent times, Matthew Goniwe.
Travel with us over the big mountains on the flank of the Mountain Zebra National Park, where the Karoo air is fresh and still and the birdsong is the loudest sound you will hear.
The Northern Cape is one of the most unexplored provinces in South Africa. It's also the biggest province covering a massive 30,5% of South Africa's surface area. This equates to just under 373,000 square kilometres. There's plenty of space to find solitude, clean air and places to relax and unwind. There are also a surprising number of great mountain passes - both tar and gravel. In our news release today we have 7 video offerings ranging from a small poort to some big tarred passes.
Our winter filming trip through the province was a voyage of discovery with a new surprise around every corner. Add genuinely hospitable people and you have a winning recipe. Much of the surface area falls under the mantle of Namaqualand and our featured pass today is a fairly new tarred pass which has been labelled 'spectacular'.
This week we head back into the Western Cape and into the beautiful Cederberg region, which is a place once visited, you will return again and again. The area has spawned a large number of mostly gravel passes which attract adventure motor cyclists, 4WD enthusiasts, rock climbers, hikers, spelunkers, bird watchers and nature lovers in their droves.
Our featured pass has given our camera crew a tough time - evading good footage time and time again and it now holds the official MPSA record of having been filmed 15 times over a 4 year period before we finally achieved success. We nailed it about two weeks ago in perfect light and at the right time of day. Previous attempts were bedevilled by dust, corrugations, wind, corrupt CD cards, flat camera batteries, rain, cloud, mist and over-exposed or under-exposed footage. We cracked a bottle of champagne once we reviewed the footage!
We know you'll love this pass.
Today's featured pass ranks amongst the finest gravel passes we have ever filmed. This is one of the Eastern Cape's Big 8 and justifiably deserves any accolades it receives. It is also arguably the least recognized of the Big 8 and that is no doubt due to the fact that is located on a road that very few people travel over.
As we trace the hairpins, stunning sandstone formations and mind boggling views of the Maloti Mountains close to the Lesotho border, we will take you over this amazing pass via a quadruple set of videos as we uncover the contrasting features from fabulous waterfalls to police officers patrolling the area for stock theft.
The Big 8 include the following passes: Barkly Pass (tar), Otto du Plessis, Baster Voetslaan, Naude's Nek, Jouberts Pass, Carlisleshoekspruit, Volunteershoek and Lundin's Nek. Each one is unique and offers an adventurous drive.
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.