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Mountain Passes News

What's inside?

* Christmas Greetings

* Gift a special friend with a lasting gift

* Lesotho-Sani Tour (Chapter 5)

* Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour (Chapter 2)

* Featured pass of the week - Witsieshoek

* Words of wisdom


Merry Chistmas!
2019 has been a long, tough year for many South Africans and in many cases the phrase "money's too tight to mention" applies. The weak economy has taken its toll in every sphere. From the MPSA point of view we have done our best to keep our prices of all our products as affordable as possible and intend continuing in that vein for 2020.

We wish you and your family a peaceful and blessed Christmas. Stay positive and focus on the good all around you. It is possible to avoid negative news to a large extent. We attempt to only post positive uplifting material and that formula seems to be working for example on our FaceBook page which more than doubled in followers this past year. That growth has been exponential.

Don't miss next week's news release on the 26th December, where we will turn back the clock and review the year that was.
Until then, be safe & drive defensively.


Give someone a classy Christmas gift that costs just R300

Click on the link > Fill in the details of the recipient > Add your message > Pay with your card or do an EFT > Voila! Christmas shopping done. The recipient will remember your thoughtful gift for a full year and beyond.


 

Lesotho-Sani Tour (Chapter 5)

With the tour of the Katse Dam completed we were a little pressed to make up some time and several big passes to conquer. As we bade farewell to the charms of the Katse Lodge, we commenced almost immediately with the first pass of the day - the Nkoabee Pass.

This is another big tarred pass covering 16.2 km. It is one of several big passes along the A25 and connects Seshute in the north with the Katse Dam complex in the south. There are 95 bends corners and curves to contend with, of which 23 have angles greater than 90 degrees, but there are no hairpins.

The altitude variance of 624m means lots of ascending and descending and although the road is tarred, caution needs to be exercised in terms of traffic volumes and the very real possibility of finding livestock on the road.

The pass offers very good elevated views of sections of the Katse Dam. It gives access to two airports - Katse Airport at the southern end and Seshutes airport at the northern end.

Starting in the north, the pass starts at the apex of a tight left-hand bend near the runway of the Seshutes Airport. The road heads south, steadily gaining altitude as it worms its way in and out of the side ravines. Although the ascent is long at 6.1 km, the climb gradient is comfortable, seldom exceeding 1:14. The river visible along the ascent is the Matsoku River.

[Click here to read the rest of this story...]

What's inside?

* Weather gone wild

* The perfect Christmas gift

* Exploring the Katse Dam

* Podcast - Lesotho passes

* Featured pass of the week

* Words of wisdom



Weather in full battle cry

From droughts and record high temperatures to floods. The Apiesrivier and Bronkhorstsruit in the Pretoria area are in flood and Potchefstroom has also experienced heavy rain. Many parts of the Free State and Northern Cape (including flooding in Upington) have brought welcome relief to struggling farmers and the country's dams are starting to fill. On our FaceBook page we posted a photo of a motorist crossing a flooded river at great and unnecessary risk to his life. We are assuming it's a 'he' as women just wouldnt take those risks.

We've said it a hundred times before - If you're not prepared to walk it, then don't drive it!


Give someone a classy Chistmas gift that costs just R300

Click on the link > Fill in the details of the recipient > Add your message > Pay with your card or do an EFT > Voila! Christmas shopping done. The recipient will remember your thoughtful gift for a full year and beyond.


 

Lesotho-Sani Tour (Chapter 4)

Saturday 28th September - We woke to a crisp sunny day at our overnight accommodation at the Katse Lodge. (We have just had news that the lodge will be closed for 2020 as they are doing extensive renovations). After a hearty breakfast we got everyone down to the interpretative centre above the Katse dam wall, where we had made arrangements for a guided tour at 08h30. After 10 minutes waiting there was still no guide, so we took our group down the little pass and over the bridge at the Malimabatso river and up the other side of the gorge where we were permitted to drive over the dam wall and as the guard explained to us, we were not allowed to stop on the wall unless in the company of the official guide.

Once over the wall, we located a large tarred parking area and walked back over the wall. This little excursion which is part of the official dam tour took up 30 minutes and by the time we returned to the interpretive centre, we just made the start of the talk by our guide, who had arrived half an hour late. The talk was fascinating and we all then drove down to the bottom of the wall for the tour inside the wall itself. There is strictly no photography allowed and a guard bringing up the tail end of the group ensures this is enforced.

The thickness of the wall at the base is 60m and a series of arched tunnels run in both directions as well as upward and downward by several levels. It's a little eerie inside the wall and the steady drips of water running underfoot via shallow channels do cause a sense of awareness of "what if?..."

Every 50m or so there are stainless steel measuring devices where concrete sections meet. These measure minute movements within the structure and are carefully monitored on a regular basis.

The week that was:

* Hottest temperature ever recorded in SA?

* Silly season arrives

* Black Friday

* Lesotho-Sani Tour (Chapter 3)

* Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour (Chapter 1)

* Podcast - a talk on the Katse Dam, Lesotho

* Featured pass of the week


Highest temperature in South Africa!

Hotazel (Hot as hell) is not quite as hot as Vioolsdrif it would seem, although both are in the Northern Cape, where the official SA weather station recorded a temperature of 53,7C on the 29th November. We posted that information on our FaceBook page early the next morning. The post was read by 32,601 people and generated 126 comments - both for and against climate change theories. It's obviously quite an emotive topic. Now we have people saying the reading couldn't have been accurate as the Namibian weather station at Noordoewer on the opposite bank of the Gariep registered 10 degrees lower. Facts are facts. Latest information on the matter is that the equipment at Vioolsdrif is going to be scientifically tested for accuracy.

The Silly Season is upon us!

It's that time of year when city folk flee the concrete jungle to unwind at the coast, but it's the annual levels of irritability, road rage and over indulgence that sees the death toll peak on ur roads each year. This year will be no different. Make sure you don't become a statistic. How about planning a route to your destination on the quieter back roads. You can easily do this by making use of our Master Map. Not only will you be avoiding the dangers of the highways but you will arrive more relaxed and you can make the journey so much more fun. Try it!

Black Friday

This year we decided to get involved with the Black Friday concept by offering a 50% reduction in subscription rates. Over the 3 days we gained 79 new subscribers, proving that if your offer is excellent, your sales will boom. Welcome to all the new subscribers!

Lesotho-Sani Tour (Chapter 3)
As we continue with our journey through Lesotho, the second pass we needed to drive was Lekhalo La Molimo Nthuse - more commonly known as 'God help Me Pass'. Whilst the English name is sufficient to have some drivers gravely concerned of what's to come, the reality is that the new tarred version makes driving it a simple matter. This pass rises 382m to summit at 2332m ASL. It's also a moderately long pass at 8.2 km.

Like most of the big passes in Lesotho, it is subject to winter snowfalls and ice on the road. It has 31 bends, corners and curves of which 8 are greater than 90 degrees and of those 8 there are 4 bends of 180 degrees. Some of the gradients on this pass get as steep as 1:5 and we found ourselves often having to gear down to 2nd, despite having a 4.5 litre engine providing power.

(Click on the Read More link for the rest of today's newsletter)

What's inside?

* Black Friday offer

* New tours for 2020

* Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour overview

* Lesotho-Sani Tour report back - Chapter 2

* Featured pass of the week

* Words of wisdom


Black Friday - Cyber Monday
We are running a subscription special from today 28th Nov to Monday 2nd Dec at R150 for the 12 month package (50% discount). Subscribe, Upgrade or Renew. Anyone renewing (even if your current subscription is still valid) can cash in. The dates will simply be extended by 12 months. The link is at the bottom of this newsletter.


New tours in the planning room for 2020
As the Christmas season approaches, we will be hard at work planning the next two tours. The first will be an unusual tour (3 days) which will include the Baviaans-Kouga 4x4 Route; the eastern section of the Baviaanskloof bioreserve and and east-west traverse of the Antoniesberg Pass. We will be overnighting in quality accommodation and at a different location on each of the four nights. We are planning this tour for February 2020.

The other tour which requires a lot of planning is our Wild Coast Tour, which will be a longer tour of at least 5 days and include some of the bih gravel passes in the old Transkei. This tour is scheduled for April/May.

Our ever popular Ben 10 Tour will be repeated again in 2020.

Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour

We have just arrived back from a hugely successful tour in the Addo area - our inaugural Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour. We were blessed with fine weather throughout; marvellous and plentiful game sightings; some interesting and technical driving, but above all our group knitted together really well from a social perspective. On this tour we had a couple of firsts. We had a new shape Suzuki Jimny as well as a top end Range Rover V8 Sport. Both vehicles from opposite ends of the price spectrum, coped admirably. We will be reporting in more detail on this tour over the next few weeks.


Lesotho-Sani Tour report back - Chapter 2

Maseru, whose name is a Sesotho word meaning “place of the sandstone”, is the capital city of Lesotho. It is situated on the Caledon River, which separates Lesotho from South Africa, and is Lesotho’s only sizeable city, with a population of approximately 250,000 people. 

At the end of the Free State-Basotho War in 1869, Maseru was established as a small police camp by the British when Basutoland became a British protectorate. It was not long before it grew into a busy market town.

It is located at the edge of the “conquered territories” relinquished to the Orange Free State (now the Free State province of South Africa) as part of the peace terms at the conclusion of the war. It is 24 kilometres west of King Moshoeshoe I’s stronghold, Thaba Bosiu, the previous de facto capital. Maseru was the state’s administrative capital between 1869 and 1871, before administration of Basutoland was transferred to the Cape Colony. 

Between 1871 and 1884, and much to the chagrin of the Basotho people, Basutoland was treated in the same way as territories that had been forcefully annexed. This led to the Gun War in 1881 during which many buildings in Maseru were burned. In 1884, Basutoland’s status as a Crown Colony was restored, and Maseru was again made the capital.

When Basutoland gained its independence and became the Kingdom of Lesotho in 1966, Maseru remained the country’s capital. Prior to Lesotho’s independence, Maseru had remained relatively small; it was contained within well-defined colonial boundaries and, as the British had little interest in developing the city, there was little growth. After 1966 Maseru expanded rapidly from a mere 20 square kilometres to the current area of 138 square kilometres, mainly thanks to the incorporation of nearby peri-urban villages.

Pass No. 1 - Lekhalo la Baroa

Once we had passed through the suburbia of Maseru, we reached our first pass of the day - Bushman's Pass or more correctly Lekhalo La Baroa. 

This big tarred pass is located on the A3 main route between Maseru in the west and the much smaller village of Fosi in the east. It displays an altitude variance of 487m over a distance of 11.9 km producing an average gradient of 1:27, but there are several very steep sections at 1:5. The summit point is reached at an altitude of 2277m ASL.

(Click on the Read More link for the rest of today's newsletter)

The week that was:



* MPSA is on tour

* Lesotho-Sani Tour (Part 1)

* South African History (Final Chapter)

* Pass of the week

* Words of wisdom


Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour
By the time you read this we will be in Kirkwood meeting guests for our Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour. We will as usual, provide comprehensive feedback on the tour and share photos and videos. The weather forecast indicates no rain with temperatures ranging between 5C and 33C. This will be our last tour of 2019 but rest assured we have a wonderful set of tours planned for 2020 and hope that YOU are able to join us on one of them.

Lesotho-Sani Tour report back
This was our most popular tour of 2019 with 12 guest vehicles and 2 guide vehicles making up a long convoy. Once again we were blessed with generally fine weather and the sights and sounds of Lesotho did not disappoint. But let's start at the beginning.

The tour was run right at the end of the winter period as we specifically did not want to be turned back by ice or snow on the roads, but the reality is that Lesotho experienced snow on Saturday 16th November. Planning tour dates is a matter of lowering the likelihood of bad weather.

We met up at the Zuikerkop Lodge near Clocolan in the Eastern Free State, where as the only guests, we had royal treatment by the staff and excellent food. We were able to utilise their conference facilities for our first driver briefing which was attended by 37 people from all over South Africa. We will definitely be supporting this business for future tours to Lesotho.

The convoy departed on time on Friday morning 27th September in perfect sunny weather. We chose the Peka bridge border control point as it is quiet and the bigger border posts can get very busy on Fridays. The crossing took less than 20 minutes for the entire group as we quickly turned left and joined the tarred A1 heading south towards Maseru. The 60 km trip from Peka to Maseru was however, painfully slow with the streets lined with car dealers, taxis, skedonk cars and careless pedestrians, dogs and goats.

It would be some time before we reached our first pass of the day - Bushmans Pass. To while away the time, we regaled our guests with some interesting information on Lesotho:

Lesotho, officially named the Kingdom of Lesotho, is an enclaved country within the borders of South Africa. It is just over 30,000 square kilometres in size and has a population of around 2,2 million people. Its capital and largest city is Maseru.

Lesotho was previously the British Crown Colony of Basutoland, but it declared independence from the United Kingdom on 4 October 1966. It is now a fully sovereign state, and is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). [More lower down]

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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.
 

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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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