Mountain Passes News

What's inside?

* Out & About

* Wild Coast Tour V5 - Day 9

* Swartberg Classic Tour - Day 1

* Podcast

* Pass of the week


GRABOUW NOVICE 4X4 TRAINING DAY - 30th October, 2022.

We've had a lot of requests to repeat a novice 4x4 training day. The whole idea of owning a 4x4 is to allow you to get to places normal cars cannot go, yet many people have never even put their vehicles into low range and tested the limits of their vehicles and themselves. This should take place is stages. The building of confidence.

We've put together an attractive package in the beautiful mountains near Grabouw and Elgin, where not only will you complete the training module but it will also be a fun day in pristine surroundings with great mountain and lake views.

We've gone a step further and will have a professional videographer/photographer on site to get all those action packed moments onto a video stick for each driver. Tickets will sell fast on this one, so book your spot right away. We can only take 12 vehicles. There will be two facilitators to ensure everyone gets one on one training. The course comes with a certificate of completion. Everything including instruction notes, folders, radio hire, permit fees, certificates and memory sticks are included in the price.

The program will include tuition on how drive trains work, gearboxes, differentials and diff-locks, low range, traction control, and downhill assist. This will take place classroom style at the start of the tour and will last about an hour. Then comes the practical side of things where you will get to put your new found knowledge into practice. We will limit the obstacles to Grade 1 and 2.

The day will include a lunch break in the mountains. bring your own 'padkos'
Note: No alcohol allowed during training or tours. Click on the link for full itinerary and pricing: 

GRABOUW NOVICE 4X4 TRAINING DAY - 30th October, 2022.

GARDEN ROUTE TOUR 10th to 16th September, 2022

Our inaugural Garden Route Classic Tour is almost fully booked. One ticket is still looking for ownership! Come and enjoy the very best of Thomas Bain's passes as we work our way from west to east over a number of mountain ranges and some places you've unlikely seen before. The traverse of the old oxwagon route (Voortrekker Pass) will set the pulses racing, but the quality of the venues we will be staying out will soothe the most frazzled soul.

Amongst the bigger passes we will be driving include Cloetes Pass, Robinson Pass, Outeniqua Pass, Kaaimans Pass, Montagu Pass, Voortrekker Pass, 7 Passes Road, Millwood, Kom se Pad, Prince Alfred's Pass, Paardekop Pass, Grootrivier Pass and the Bloukrans Pass.

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What's inside?

* 4x4 Novice Driver Training (30th October)

* Garden Route Tour 

* Wild Coast V5 Tour (Day 8)

* Swartberg Classic Tour (Day 0)

* Pass of the week

Driver Training - Sunday 30th October

There's a constant need for driver training. Many people buy 4x4's but have never been off-road with them. Owning a 4x4 allows one to get to places others cannot. Once you have the confidence to venture off on your own, there's a whole new world of adventure travel waiting for you. Once or twice a year we offer a novice training course, which is always popular. This year's training day will take place at the Grabouw 4x4 facility in the Western Cape. The course will be facilitated by Trygve Roberts in person, with Philip Wantling assisting. The tour price includes take-home training material and professional photos/videos of you and your vehicle loaded onto a memory stick as a memoir for the day. You will also receive a Certificate of Completion. This is an ideal training session for rank novices as well as intermediate drivers to brush up on your skills. Bookings will open soon.

Garden Route Tour

We have 1 place open on our inaugural Garden Route Tour  (10th - 16th September). Click here for full itinerary and pricing: GARDEN ROUTE CLASSIC

Trip Report

Wild Coast Tour V5 - Day 8

Our route for the day looked so easy on the map, but the heavy two day rain scenario had left the Wild Coast roads very wet and muddy. This is exactly why we insist on 4WD vehicles on these tours. We were going to need every ounce of traction available.

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the Mbashe River Pass. To get to the eastern start of the pass, involved a long pull inland to an area known as Ntonyane. From 'The Haven' at the coast we climbed 417m in altitude to reach the eastern rim of the Mbashe Valley. Everything about the river and its valley and gorges is on an impressive scale. The pass itself is 14 km in length and loses/gains 383m in altitude. It offers lofty views of deeply incised and heavily wooded valleys, several Wild Coast villages and the crossing of the powerful Mbashe River via the historical Fyfe-King Bridge. 

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The week that was....

* Overview

* Garden Route Classic

* Wild Coast - Day 5 & 6

* Swartberg Tour report back

* Pass of the week


Another week of ups and downs with loadshedding, the usual SARS scams at this time of year and the Boks pulling off a decent win against Wales in Cape Town. The MPSA squad have unpacked, pressure washed all the mud off the Cruiser and crash landed into the world of administration as we depart the heady euphoria of an amazing Swartberg Tour. We'll cover that a bit later in this newsletter. 


All current tours are fully booked except for one place left on the Garden Route Tour. Here is the itinerary:

Saturday 10th September: The group meets up at the Rooiberg Lodge just outside Vanwyksdorp between 1400 and 1700 where we fit your two way radio and magnetic aerial, deflate tyres for gravel travel and have our meet & greet session where the finer details of the tour will be explained, indemnity forms signed, distribution of personal folders with notes, convoy driving order sheets, name tags and maps as well as a Q&A session. We enjoy a hearty dinner and a good night’s rest in preparation for the next day.

Sunday 11th September: 08h30 After breakfast we run a radio check to ensure everyone has comms and then we take to the road. Our route heads south towards the Langeberge along the R327, then east to cross the Gouritz River via the single lane low level bridge at the Jan Muller Pass and remain on gravel via Cloete’s Pass and descends to Herbertsdale. We take some fabulously scenic back roads via Haelkraal where we intersect with the tarred R328 and stop at the lovely 8 Bells Inn for lunch.

Our route ascends the Robinson Pass where after which we take a shortcut through some Klein Karoo farms to bypass Oudtshoorn. We descend the stunning Outeniqua Pass and finish the day at our overnight venue in Wilderness.

The passes are marked (G) for gravel and (T) for tar:
Jan Muller Pass (G); Cloetes Pass (G); Hagelkraal Pass (G); Robinson Pass (T) – Ascending; Brakpoort (T); Beweraaskloof Pass (T); Outeniqua Pass (T) – Descending; Kaaimans River Pass (T)
Overnight at Wilderness Karos Hotel in Wilderness. (Dinner, bed and breakfast)

Monday 12th September: Depart 0900 after breakfast.

Our routing will be: White’s Road (G) (ascending); ** Map of Africa ** viewpoint; Silver River Pass (T) (7 Passes Road); Kaaimansgat Pass (T) (7 Passes Road); Montagu Pass (G) Oldest unaltered pass in SA; ** Louvain Farm**; Old Voortrekker Pass (G) (Quite a technical drive); ** Bergplaas Forestry Station **; Hoekwil Pass (T)
Overnight at Wilderness Karos Hotel. (Dinner, bed and breakfast)

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The week that was....

* The drama continues

* Trips & Tours

* Wild Coast - the final leg

* Pass of the week


I can't think of any two years in my lifetime more dramatic than the last two.

Droughts, Day Zero Water, graft & corruption, a failing economy, Covid, Ukraine, rocketing fuel prices and now Stage 6 load shedding. One needs broad shoulders to deal with all this stuff. Our backup generator decided to fail right as Stage 6 started last week leaving us literally and figuratively in the dark. You can't find the little burglar alarm and gate batteries anywhere as the public begin to realise how vulnerable their systems are. At least they're not rushing about to buy bakkie loads of toilet paper! The name of the game is remain positive and put some of that energy out there - even if its not in the form of electricity. 

MPSA is hugely dependent on having fast internet 24 hours a day, so we will have to invest in an upgraded inverter system to keep the lights on when Eskom cannot.

Time for a quick commercial

Trips & Tours are selling extremely well.

SWARTBERG CLASSIC (July) - Fully booked and as you read this newsletter we will be enjoying our final day of the tour. Expect an action packed report.

GARDEN ROUTE CLASSIC (Sep) - Two spots available.Come and enjoy this inaugural tour and lets make some history.

SEVEN SISTERS TOUR (Oct) - Fully booked.

WILD COAST TOUR (May 2023) - Fully booked

Wild Coast Tour V5 - A new group

Once our new group of guests arrived in Coffee Bay, it was back to basics; fitting radios and running through the driver's briefing details. The weather remained miraculously fine, but the big rain forecast that had been threatening for a week was creeping onto the forecast map. 

On day one, we took our group to Mapuzi Caves - the first time we have ever gone to this remote and difficult to reach spot. We parked our vehicles on a grassy ridge and negotiated a "fee" for parking there with the landowner across the road - all of this done via our local guide Mzo, acting as interpreter. Not many locals can speak English, so it's a sound idea to use a local guide to ensure there are no misunderstandings (especially when it comes to money). This fellow started his negotiations off at R100 per vehicle to park for an hour, immediately putting Sandton City to shame. We ended up at R10 per vehicle which seems to be about the average price most people are happy with.

The more agile guests followed Mzo down to the caves via a footpath that is perilously close to vertical. The only way to ensure you won't fall, is to go down on your backside. One guest turned around when the gradient became too much, but the rest of the guests all made it down to the rocky beach where the caves are located. The caves are huge and according to the locals, this is where the ANC stored arms and ammunition during the armed struggle. They rigged a gantry with a pulley system to lower their cargo down the mountainside. The arms stash was never discovered by the South African government at the time.

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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...)

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