The French missionaries were a tough and resourceful bunch in the 1700 & 1800's. Some failed and went back to France, but a few stuck things out in this water scarce, mountainous region at a small (and often unreliable) natural spring, where they set out to bring Catholicism to the local San people. They called the spot Pella. Two of these missionaries, with no building skills and armed only with a photograph of a similar church in France, set about building a cathedral no less, in the dusty little village using their bare hands, local products and cement carted in by ox-wagon. The result is truly astounding and has been there for 150 plus years.
There is a wondereful book for mountain pass fans called "The Romance of the Mountain Passes of the Cape". It was written by retired roads engineer and 'padmaker' Graham Ross and is now in it's 5th edition. It contains wonderful stories about South African history and the role the passes played in the development of our nation. I call Graham from time to time for guidance and technical advice. This week he sent me this lovely old black and white photo of his family on a camping excursion circa 1950, which shows the family car - an Austin A70 Station Wagon, with an Andy sailing dinghy on the roof and the trusty sloped roof Gypsey caravan in tow.
Today, Cape Town has had it's first taste of summer! At last!!!!
Researching the history of the Piekenierskloof Pass was almost as enjoyable as driving it. Only recently opened to traffic after a 2 year revamp, the commercial importance of this big pass on the main N7 route between Cape Town and Namibia cannot be underestimated. It started life as an elephant track over the neck in the mountains, then graduated slightly into a wagon route of extreme proportions, known as the Breakneck Pass.
The wild flowers are amongst the best in decades. We have just processed a little known pass East of Clanwilliam, called the Klipfonteinrant Pass. If you're in the mood to get into the spirit of sping, then this pass is a perfect destination where you are guaranteed to see more flowers than you can imagine. How to get there?
With school holidays and unseasonally cold weather in the Cape, many people will be heading off to see the snow at Ceres. We have some sage advice for you in terms of avoiding the traffic, choosing alternative routes and how to avoid being swept up in the Matroosberg hysteria.
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.