THE WEEK THAT WAS
* Northern Cape filming trip report back
* Unveiling of a wonderful newly discovered pass in the Worcester Winelands
* Hanlie Booysens writes about her MTB ride of the Ben 10
* Listen to the podcast
* Featured pass of the week
Mike Leicester, who runs our office up north from Johannesburg, has just returned from a successful filming trip covering the last of the outstanding passes in the far north-western sector of the Northern Cape as well as a few stragglers in the Free State. Amongst the many passes he managed to film, he was the most impressed by Charles' Pass - a fairly short gravel pass between Pella and the Orange/Gariep River, where towering tock faces create an eerie sensation as the road weaves its way through a canyon and suddenly opens up on the banks of the mighty Gariep. [More lower down.]
The Cape Town filming crew took a visit to a hidden valley in the mountains to the south-east of Worcester in the Breedekloof region, where we filmed a very long new pass, previously unknown to us. This road runs over private property but it is possible to drive the pass if you are a paying guest at the Dwarsberg Trout Hideaway. The pass is a beauty - long, narrow and quite steep in places offering fantastic views over a narrow valley carved out by the Holslootrivier, which runs swift and clear into the north and later feeds into the Breede. The road terminates at the Stettyn Dam, making this an out and back route. [More lower down]
Hanlie Booysens, a star off-road cyclist and a subscriber to this website, recently completed the Ben 10 Eco-Challenge (on a bicycle of course). We were able to obtain a digital copy of her story as featured in the premier cycling magazine RIDE and with their permission publish the story of her challenge in this news letter. [More lower down]
Our featured pass of the week is an unknown one in the deeply forested part of Mpumalanga between Graskop and Sabie. Did you know that there are three Burgers passes in South Africa? There's one in the Western Cape near Montagu on the R318. There is another on the P308 near Utrecht in KZN and our featured pass is in Mpumalanga near Graskop. The first was named after a local councillor in Montagu and the other two more likely named after president T.F.Burgers who was head honcho of the then Zuid Afrikaanche Republiek from 1871 to 1877. [More lower down]
THE WEEK THAT WAS:
* Ben 10 new video
* Tower to Tower Tour feedback
* Pass of the week
This week we are featuring an unusual pass in Mpumalanga that many people have driven, but perhaps not realised that it's a mountain pass. A lovely tarred road with sweeping curves follows the southern side of the magnificent Blyderivierspoort Canyon and climbs an impressive 480m over 23 km. It's that long distance, which lulls drivers into believing they aren't really climbing, which produces an easy average gradient of 1:47. The pass has a number of false summits, which breaks the whole pass up into a series of smaller passes. Most of this traverse reveals tantalising glimpses of the canyon on the left, which requires detours down to the various view-points to marvel at some of the finest scenery on offer in South Africa. [More lower down]
The Ben 10 Eco Challenge is attracting an ever increasing number of participants with the latest number of entries standing at 125, with 55 having successfully completed it. That ratio of around 45% has remained constant since the event was launched and is a clear indicator that the challenge is not as easy as many people think. The latest trend amongst the adventure motorcycling fraternity is to try and complete the event in one day. This is definitely not in the spirit of the Ben 10 with the idea being to take your time, enjoy the scenery, relax and support local businesses. [More lower down]
* Back to school/back to work
* New tour launched today
* Latest Pass Planner available
* Ben 10 Eco Challenge sets a new record
* Social media update
* Pass of the week
* New passes published
It's back to school and back to work (and traffic congestion) for the vast number of South Africans this week as the year 2019 settles down to some semblance of normality.
Our pass of the week is a most unusual one in many ways. Not only does it require the driving of a partially deproclaimed road to get there, but the road in question was hacked out of the mountainside in the years 1940 to 1945, ostensibly for the use of ox-wagons. The construction work was carried out by a small group of enterprising farmers, who toiled through seven cold winters to build the precarious road from the Koue Bokkeveld down into the secluded valley in the southern Cederberg. [More lower down...]
Sunday, 3rd February - 1 DAY, 150 km, 6 passes.
The featured pass today impressed us so much that we created a special tour with it being the anchor pass and one we are confident will be thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by our guests. We thought of calling this one the Vertigo Tour as at least four of the six passes have very steep drop-offs not suitable for those that suffer from acrophobia.
We always try to release new tours on a Thursday in conjunction with this newsletter, to give our subscribers first opportunity to book a place. As is the case with many of our tours, we get special permission to enter roads and areas not normally accessible by the public. This tour will be unforgettable. Our tours are booked out in short order, so if you live in the Western Cape, book online here: Southern Cederberg Tour
It is our great pleasure to wish each and every one of you a healthy, prosperous and adventure filled year ahead. We hope that MPSA will be part of your life during the year ahead and beyond. We have lots of wonderful new ideas and concepts for 2019 as we forge ahead with our plans to run the project on a full time basis.
What better way of kickstarting 2019 with an early departure on a pass filming day on January 1st. With perfect filming weather in the Western Cape, the Cape Town crew headed north towards Citrusdal with the idea of refilming some of the passes in that area, and more specifically the trio of passes on the R303 - a long connecting road between Citrusdal and Ceres with a mix of tar and gravel and one of those roads offering incredibly beautiful scenery, but be warned, the road is on the rough side and if it weren't for the 4WD capability of the Suzuki Jimny, we might have had no footage at all.
So with Elandskloof, Middelberg and Buffelshoek passes under the belt, it left just one new pass to locate and film. The pass in question was the Piet Esterhuysen Pass, which is accessed off the R303, but it is one of those passes that falls under that awkward category of a partially deproclaimed road. As is the case with other roads in that category (Sanbona Wildlife Reserve springs immediately to mind) a certain amount of jumping through hoops is required before entry can be obtained. [More lower down]
Saturday,12th January - Fully Booked. You can view past and future tours (when booking opens) at the MPSA Shop.
You can also subscribe (free) to receive Tour updates, which gives you first bite at the cherry.
Our next tour is being formulated as we speak and will probably be scheduled for last weekend of January.
The final newsletter of 2018 is always a time to reflect and take stock of our achievements and failures for the year. We had both of those in abundance and for those of you that read all the way to the bottom of the page, our 'Thought for the day' quote mostly reflects what is happening at MPSA at the time.
This year we have been successful in completely avoiding politics and we have been singularly focused on remaining in a positive space, despite all the doom and gloom that gets fed into our head space on a daily basis. The end of year gives us an opportunity to reflect on where we were a year ago versus today. [But more of that lower down...]
One of our guests for the Ben 10 Official Tour in March next year, has had to withdraw due to health issues. There is one space up for grabs. Book tour online (Late edit - Sorry, this spot has now been taken)
We still have a few tickets available for our first tour of 2019, which is the Tower to Tower Tour between Moorreesburg and Piketberg in the Western Cape. We have amended the entry requirements from 4x4 only to 4x2 with good ground clearance (as we can use a safe escape route for 4x2 vehicles if necessary). This tour involves an ascent and descent of the Koringberg, followed by a visit to a mission station tucked away in a hidden kloof, then down an historic pass where the first concept of a looped flyover was invented 130 years ago by a South African farmer. Book tour online
We remain up north as we take you for a cyber drive on the gravel surfaced Shiyalongubo Pass. A pass once driven, will long be remembered. [More lower down...]
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.