Latest News! 27th April, 2017

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Normandien Pass near the summit Normandien Pass near the summit - Photo: John Heddon

Route Planning

April &May are probably the months of the year that most people use for longer travel type holidays as can be attested by the flood of email inquiries we received this month from folk needing advice and assistance with travel plans. We legally may not plan a route for you, but the website is so designed to provide all the information for each person to watch the videos, look at the facts, routes and maps and so make informed decisions on their own routes - and to take responsibility for those choices.

How to use the best feature on the website - The Master Map

The first and best tool to plan a trip is the MASTER MAP which is the first item under the FIND A PASS tab. Zoom into your area of interest and hover your cursor over any of the dots - the name of the pass will pop up. If you want to know more about that specific pass, left click on the dot, and another balloon will open inviting you to take the click through to that pass page. The black dots indicate tarred passes and the red dots are gravel passes.

It's fun and takes some time, but by the time you've properly researched your intended route, you will be armed with superior knowledge, which will make your journey so much more enjoyable. The master map is available to anyone, but only subscribers can see the content of the individual pages and the videos. That makes another 700 good reasons to subcribe!

Drakensberg revisited

Our featured pass this week is a real gem. It's in the Drakensberg and offers steep gradients, serious drop offs, a mix of gravel and concrete, incredible views, sharp corners, technical driving and lots of crisp alpine air.


Our next field trip:

The Cape Town film crew are heading into the Northern Cape this week, gathering up a collection of mostly obscure, but official passes. We will be visiting Clanwilliam, Nieuwoudtville, Garies, Calvinia, Williston, Fraserburg, and Sutherland as we capture a range of passes and poorts in this dry, but beautiful part of South Africa. Other filming trips scheduled for 2017 include Mpumalanga and KZN, where we still have a lot of work to do and of course, Lesotho is also on our list, but the filming weather window is tight for Lesotho, being limited to March/April.

Here is a list of what we will be filming:

01. The Hell se Pad Pass (this one is located north of Nieuwoudtville and descends down the mountain to the Knersvlakte)
02. Vetpoort (a small poort 25 km NW of Nuwerus)
03. Klippoort (a major poort in the mountains 45 km east of Garies)
04. Skurfhoogte (a remote pass in an old diamond mining area 33 km NNW of Garies)
05. Moordenaarspoort (a small poort 25 km NW of Calvinia)
06. Keiskie se Hoogte (a steep pass 15 km SE of Calvinia)
07. Prinseshoogte (a small pass west of Middelpos)
08. Oupoort (a well known poort on the main road between Calvinia & Sutherland)
09. Snyderspoort (in the heart of the mountains 45 km north of Sutherland)
10. Die Draai se Hoogte (an obscure pass 65 km west of Fraserburg)
11. Quaggasfontein Pass ( a small pass 27 km south of Williston)
12. Soutpanspoort (10 km NE of Williston on the main tarred road)
13. Kootjiestafe se Hoogte ( a small pass with a fascinating name - 70 km east of Williston)
14. Rooihoogte (another small pass 60 km NE of Fraserburg and the 3rd most popular pass name in SA)
15. Heuningneshoogte (a small pass 88 km east of Williston)
16 Amandeihoogte ( a small pass 43 km NE of Fraserburg)
17. Haarpuisnek ( another fascinating pass name also close to Fraserburg)

All this is crammed into 5 days of meticulous planning and hopefully the weather will be kind to us. During a trip like this we head into unknown territory and each pass and poort is new voyage of discovery, where we meet the locals and uncover more of South Africa's rich history welded into the passes and poorts. So there's lots to look forward to seeing on the website in the coming months as we unearth more and more of our fabulous history through the passes and poorts.

Ben 10 Eco Challenge update

We have exactly 10 people who have successfully completed the challenge out of a total of 36 entries. Use the hyperling above to see who'se who and also enter the challenge from the link.

Pass of the Week

We head to the Drakensberg and specifically to the tiny hamlet of Normandien, where a majestic and tough pass, which is a mix of gravel and concrete, winds its way over a long spur of the Drakensberg into the Free State. In Normandien there is a police station and a trading store. The store has been owned by the Surtees family for over 80 years. Inside the cool gloom of the store you will find products seemingly from a museum with products from a bygone era still on sale today - like Chappies, Milo, Condensed Milk, Saldanha Pilchards, Sunlight soap and Five Roses tea. It's quite and education. Take the click link below and cyber drive the stunning Normandien Pass with us via a double video set. Mike Leicester did the great video footage as well as the research.


New videos added this week:
Pienaarspoort ( a remote and rough gravel poort about 25 km north-west of Touwsrivier in the Western Cape)

Upgraded videos added this week:
De Beer's Pass ( One of 3 De Beers passes in SA - This is a wonderful tarred pass over the Drakensberg escarpment and rumoured to be the setting of the famous story of the heroine, Racheltjie De Beer)

Trygve Roberts

Thought for the day: "Tough times never last, but tough people do." - Lydia Sweatt 

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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.

Master Orientation Map

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.

View Master Orientation Map...