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Mountain Passes News

The week that was....

* Condolences

* Trips & Tours

* Ben 10 Eco Challenge report back

* Pass of the week


RIP Peter Pienaar:

It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of one of our guests, who had a vehicle accident on the N1 on his way home after the Ben 10 V5 Tour. Peter Pienaar was a passenger with his friend, Bob Selman. For both of them the tour was an off-road adventure of note. They were both funny and full of beans throughout the tour and enjoyed themselves immensely. After the tour, their plan was to drive from Rhodes to Beaufort West for a sleepover, then arrive home in Cape Town the following day. On arrival in Beaufort West they were unable to find accommodation, so they decided to push straight through to Cape Town. Peter sent his wife an SMS to that effect.

They took turns driving and at 01.30 near Touws River, Peter fell asleep behind the wheel. The vehicle left the road and crashed into a donga. Bob (85) was badly injured with broken ribs, sternum and collar bone, internal injuries and injuries to his hands. Peter was shaken but OK. In the pitch darkness he scrambled up the embankment to wave down a passing truck for help. The driver didn't see him and Peter was killed instantly. We extend our condolences to Peter's wife, Joan, and his extended family and friends. May he rest in peace.

Bob was taken to the Medi Clinic in Worcester where he remains at the time of writing. We wish him a speedy recovery.

I invited Peter to drive up front with me in the Land Cruiser during the TTT as there were many gates to open. He gladly took up the offer and I spent a wonderful two and a half hours getting to know Peter. He knew his wife, Joan, for 54 years. Peter shared some funny and personal moments of his life with me. The hurt still lies deep to think that was the last I would ever see of him.


Trips & Tours

We've had two cancellations for each of the Wild Coast Tours. Bring a friend and come and enjoy a fabulous Wild Coast adventure. 

Next Tour is in May (4th to 15th) - Wild Coast Pondoland Tour (2 places available)

16th to 24th May - Wild Coast Mbashe Tour (2 places available)

10th to 15th July - Swartberg Classic Tour (1 place available)


Ben 10 Eco Challenge V5 Tour

Our 5th Ben 10 Challenge was simply epic. If you wanted adventure, stunning scenery, technical driving and no dust, then this was the tour to be on. We had rain on every day of the tour, which kept the mud factor high and everyone on their toes. It also completely eliminated the dust factor. Six punctures, multiple recoveries, deep water crossings and lots of road building kept everyone busy in a good sort of way. 

  (Read more...)

The week that was...

* Ben 10 V5 Eco Challenge

* Trips & Tours

* Focus on the Du Toitskloof Pass

* Pass of the week

* Humour


The Ben 10 V5 Eco Challenge was completed yesterday. By next week we will start producing the stories and action of how things went. As you read this newsletter we will be on the road travelling back from Rhodes for our overnight stop in Wilderness and then back to our HQ in Cape Town tomorrow.

If you fancy joining us for a tour, you can review what's available with full itineraries and pricing on our Shop & Tours page here:

UPCOMING TOURS


Du Toitskloof Pass is located in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, on the regional route R101 between Paarl and Worcester. It was initially an animal track where a road was built around the time of World War II, including a 200m tunnel still in use today. Since the opening of the 3,9 km Huguenot Tunnel in 1988, the pass no longer forms part of the N1 national road and was renumbered as R101.

Originally 48 km long, the pass climbed to 820 metres. The Huguenot Tunnel, opened in 1988, is the largest curved structure in South Africa and shortens the road by 11 kilometres and is operated as a toll road. There is an impressive viaduct on the Paarl approach side, known as the Hugospoort Viaduct. It has gained some notoriety for being highly dangerous during periods of strong to gale force south easterly winds, which have the capacity to turn large trucks over. Similarly any high sided unladen delivery trucks as well as caravans have suffered this fate many times since it opened to traffic.

The surrounding peaks often sport a covering of snow and the Mountain Club of South Africa has huts in the area. Du Toits Peak is the highest mountain at 1,995 metres.

Prior to 1825, farmers used the pass to get to the interior beyond.  Another pass became the better route and in 1845, the route over the Bainskloof Pass was constructed, named after engineer Andrew Geddes Bain.

 (Read more...)

The week that was

* Goodbye Covid, hello Ukraine

* Trips & Tours

* The Ben 10 Story

* Pass of the week.

* Paraprosdokians


Goodbye Covid

It's something of a relief that Covid-19, which has completely dominated and saturated most media platforms for the last two years, (to the point of irritating absurdity) is finally on the wane - and fast too. In many (civilized) countries around the world, Covid has been officially declared pandemic non-grata - no more masks; no more PCR tests, no more proof of vaccinations. Poof! Just like that. It makes one wonder?

However, the Russian story now dominating the world press is quite scary and suddenly South Africa seems to be one of the safest places in the world. The irony! 


Trips & Tours

We are leaving this morning on our 5th Ben 10 Eco Challenge official tour. Looking at the weather forecast for the area, we are going to be doing some slipping & sliding. The Ben 10 never fails to attract adventurers and this year is no exception with the tour being fully booked. We have amended the routes and have taken advantage of the reopening of the Rhodes Hotel which allows us to spend two nights there, thereby shortening the distances considerably. We will provide a blow by blow account of all the action in the weeks to follow.

We still have two places available on the Wild Coast Tours in May as well as two places on the Swartberg Tour in July. Use the links below to review the itineraries and pricing:

WILD COAST TOUR V4 PONDOLAND (6th - 15th May)

WILD COAST TOUR V5 MBASHE (16th - 24th May)

SWARTBERG CLASSIC 2022 (10th - 15th July) 


The Ben 10 Story - Evolution of a concept.

2016 - Whilst planning the filming of the big high altitude passes in the Eastern Cape Highlands in 2015, we were approached by one of the partners of Tiffindell, Lew Campbell. He wanted to attract more visitors to the ski resort and invited us to film the rugged two spoor track up to the summit. At that stage it had no name, but the summit peak bore the name of Ben MacDhui - originally named after a peak in the Scottish Highlands. The obvious choice of name had to be the Ben MacDhui Pass.

We formulated an agreement that if the pass was to be indexed into the MPSA database, that the public would be allowed free access to the pass, subject to each guest signing an indemnity form, but no access would be allowed during the prime snow season (June to August) as the track ran across the ski slope. Later Tiffindell bulldozed a separate track that allowed access to the pass without having to cross the ski slope.

The week that was...

* Trips & Tours

* Wild Coast Tour V3 - Final

* Pass of the week

* Humour


Trips & Tours

We launched the Swartberg Classic Tour 2022 last Thursday and bookings were brisk over the first three days, proving how popular this timeless tour has become.

March 5th to 9th - Ben 10 Eco Challenge Official Tour (Fully booked/No cancellations)

May 6th to 15th - Wild Coast Tour V4 Pondoland (1 ticket available)

May 16th to 24th - Wild Coast Tour V5 Mbashe (1 ticket available)

July 10th to 15th - Swartberg Classic 2022 (2 tickets available)


Wild Coast Tour Day 10

Wavecrest to Chintsa

We had an easy drive out on the final day via the Kobonqaba Pass. At the bottom of the pass is a single lane concrete bridge that stands about 7m above the Kobonqaba River. In 1975 a savage flood ravaged the area, bringing the river down in a massive torrent of water that overtopped the bridge, bending the metal safety railings from vertical to horizontal. The railings have never been repaired.

Once up the western side of the pass our route took us to the village of Kentani (as shown on most maps). The correct spelling in Xhosa is Centane. The bustling little village has some battlefields history.

Centane was the site of the battle of Centane on 7 February 1878 during the ninth Frontier War, when more than 300 Xhosa were killed for the loss of two British soldiers. The grave of the Xhosa king, Khawuta kaGcaleka (the father of Bhurhu kaKhawuta and Hintsa kaKhawuta) is in this town in the village of Njingini.

(Read more...)

The week that was....

* Trips & Tours

* Wild Coast V3 Day 9

* Pass of the week

* New videos added

* Paraprosdokians


Trips & Tours

With Covid appearing to be on its way out of our collective lives, it seems the very real possibility of the end of the National State of Disaster is on the horizon - as is getting rid of the masks and the sanitiser. We have noticed a real upswing in inquiries for tour bookings, so our office is abuzz with activity.

6th to 9th March - the 5th (improved) version of the official Ben 10 Eco Challenge starts in two weeks' time. This tour has been fully booked for some time and remains one of our most popular offerings. This is the first time we are going to running this tour in March.

6th to 15th May - Wild Coast Tour V4 Pondoland - We have had a cancellation, so there is one ticket available.

16th to 24th May - Wild Coast V5 Mbashe Tour - This tour has one ticket available.

11th to 15th July - Swartberg Classic Tour - Bookings open today. We have scheduled this tour for mid-winter in the hopes of catching some snow. So if you fancy cold nights and crisp, clear sunny days, sign up for this popular tour.


CORRECTION on PLATTELAND TOURS LINK:

The link in last week’s e-Newsletter of Platteland Tours’ Road Trip to Namibia did not function correctly.

Here is the correct link to the Info Doc of the tour


Wild Coast Tour V3 - Day 9

This is always the longest day of the Wild Coast Tour and no easy way to shorten it. With this in mind, our routing took the most direct way to Willowvale, where our entire convoy refuelled causing something of a traffic jam. Vehicle's bellies full we drove directly to Idutywa and a short stint on the N2 before turning off onto gravel at a tourism sign "Collywobbles"

This was arguably the worst road we had driven on the tour. It was a case of shake, rattle and roll regardless of how fancy your suspension was. WE soon noted that the taxis and most locals were driving on a track well off to one side of the "road" which resembled the bottom of a stone quarry. It was 15 kilometres of bone jarring driving, but like all things, it eventually came to an end as we took our group down a very steep pass (unnamed) to the banks of the Mbashe River for a lunch break and some group photos.

[Read more...]

 

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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.
 

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