Latest News! 15th December, 2016

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Mariazell Mission Mariazell Mission - Photo: Wikipedia

As you receive this newsletter, the MPSA film crews are somewhere between Graaff-Reinet and Molteno, finding all those isolated little back-road passes and poorts, which you will be seeing over the next few months as production resumes in January 2017. One of our goals for the new year, is to produce the MPSA book. More news on that side of the project as things develope.

With most of our readers on holiday at this time of year, we feature something a little different today. Our 'Pass of the Week' is one of the best off-road passes on offer and all of it falls within the protection of a nature reserve ensuring a peaceful journey coupled with unsullied scenery.

The pass can only be driven in a high clearance 4WD vehicle, adventure motorcycle or MTB and once you've watched the videos, you will understand why. The pass traverses the South Africa-Lesotho border at it's summit and presents an exciting and challenging drive for the more experienced off-road driver, but It should never be attempted alone.

With some of the most exquisite Eastern Cape scenery on offer, there is usually also time to visit the beautifully designed buildings of the Mariazell Mission Station which is near the foot of the pass.

This rather tough mountain pass was named after one of the Griqua trekkers who came down this route from the Free State and on to settle at Kokstad, where they finally settled under the leadership of Adam Kok. The unfortunate trekker died on the pass from an accidental gunshot wound and this was how the pass earned the name of Ongeluks Nek.

Currently, the pass ranks as the 10th steepest pass in South Africa with an average gradient of 1:9,3 with the steepest sections reaching a gut wrenching 1:3. The surface is rutted, stony, muddy and rough for most of its length. It is mandatory to carry recovery equipment. The pass is usually accessed from Matatiele and the approaches are through lovely farmlands. Many of the gravel roads are corrugated, so be prepared for a slow drive.

Remember to take your passport with for this drive, as the SA Border control point is located about 4 km from the entrance gate to the Ongeluksnek Nature Reserve. We filmed this pass during October 2013 and there was lots of mud to contend with and several recoveries were needed to get a convoy of six vehicles to the summit. Don't drive or ride this pass on your own as it carries hardly any traffic and should you experience a mechanical breakdown or accident, you might not get assistance for a very long time. It is advisable taking a satellite phone with you.

Once you reach the summit, you are officially in Lesotho and a short distance later you will reach the wall of the beautiful, high altitude 'Lake Letsi'. There is no Lesotho border control point along the road and the Lesotho officials will accept your exit from their country at any other exit point, on the proviso that the exit stamps from SA are visible in your passport.

We guarantee that this pass will be one of the most exciting driving challenges you will experience in your lifetime. In our coverage of this long and slow pass, we offer two pass videos - one of which shows the recovery of a 4x4 - and a third video features some of the stunning scenery on the Lesotho side of the pass.

Featured pass of the week:
***** ONGELUKSNEK PASS *****

New passes added this week:
Groenkloof Pass (P2943) Northern Cape


Trygve Roberts
Editor

Thought for the day: "Never put money ahead of family, relationships and health"

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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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