Latest News! 7th December, 2017

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Lord Chelmsford Lord Chelmsford - Photo: Soldiers of the Queen

Pass of the week:
The end of 2017 is roaring down on us like a rampaging veld-fire, as the festive season is almost upon us and families head for their holidays on our crowded and often dangerous roads. Our featured pass this week is extremely interesting in that not only does it feature a scenic gravel pass in KZN, but it also has an exceptionally attractive stone church dating back to 1920. But it is the history which makes this pass so worthy of filling our weekly feature today. For the first time ever we feature a music video which relates directly to the Battle of Isandlwana. Mike Leicester filmed the pass and provided the research. More lower down....

Head in the Clouds:
Our recent news releases have featured cloud formations for the past two weeks, which has prompted one of our subscribers, Anton Kriegler, to send us his version of 'Understanding Clouds 101', which is highlighted lower down.

Safety First:
It's so easy to overlook some of the basics on our vehicles, before we head off on that perfect family holiday, but we provide a short check list here that will help you tick the boxes and ensure a hassle free trip. More lower down....

  1. Schedule a checkup. Perform basic maintenance on your vehicle before you head out such as checking wipers and fluid levels. Often ignored, lights can be a game changer. Check that all your lights are working (including stop lights and ensure that the headlights are set at the correct height. If your vehicle is loaded at the back, it will cause your lights to blind oncoming drivers, with the potential of causing a fatal accident. Some vehicles are fitted with devices where the headlamp angle can be set from the dashboard. Also, schedule any necessary service such as oil changes or tune ups. A vehicle in top shape will have a better chance of staying reliable and efficient. 
  2. Stay charged. Check your battery to make sure it’s strong and has clean terminals: A little baking soda and water will do the job. A road trip is no fun if your car won’t start. A set of jumper cables is a useful accessory to acrry in the boot.
  3. Read the rubber. Inspect your tyres for any tears or bulges in the side wall. The tyres should have a good amount of tread left. The easiest way to measure this, if you don't have a gauge, is to hold a coin upside down in the tread. Make sure there is at least 4 mm of tread left. Check that the tyre pressures are set to the figures that are printed on the placard on the driver’s door jamb, or what’s listed in your car’s owner’s manual.
  4. Give it a break. Have your service station inspect your car’s brake pads to make sure they aren’t worn or need replacing.
  5. Be prepared. Bring supplies in the event of an accident or medical issue. Stock your car with an emergency kit—especially a flashlight, blanket, first-aid kit, and some basic tools. Also, bring water and extra snacks, just in case.
  6. Pack smart. Check your vehicle’s load capacity to make sure you aren’t putting too much weight in the car. The Tare weight is printed on your licence disc. This load rating includes all the passengers and cargo. Be aware that fuel economy is reduced with extra cargo. Roof-top cargo boxes should only be filled with light bulky items. Heavy loads on the roof can make the vehicle more difficult to handle in emergency situations and increase the risk of a roll over. If not in use, remove the roof rack as if can significantly worsen your fuel economy.
  7. Track it. A portable GPS navigation system will help you get where you’re going, making it easy to find gas stations or restaurants along the way. Traffic-enabled devices can warn of roadway congestion, and all units can assist in finding an alternate route. Never completely rely on a GPS, but apply some common sense if the routing feels wrong.
  8. Kid prep. If you’re driving with kids, make sure you pack enough snacks, water, games, videos, and music to keep them comfortable and occupied during your journey.
  9. Be patient. During busy travel times expect to hit traffic. It may make sense to drive late at night or early in the morning to avoid the rush and ensure you get to your destination on time and with minimal stress. Make sure you count on stops for refreshment and restroom breaks, and time your fuel stops to ensure you don’t run low.
  10. Be safe. Make sure you are driving safely and follow the rules of the road.

Back in the clouds (by Anton Kriegler)

The phenomenon labelled 'weather'  is  governed by physics and is primarily dependent on three elements, namely moisture,  temperature and pressure.  Atmospheric pressure and temperature are the building blocks of wind.  Together, these three elements are responsible for cloud formation, resulting in cloud formations  to be the visible indicators of weather past,  present and that to come. A little knowledge of clouds could make life a lot easier for the outdoor enthusiast, specifically for those that want to travel off the beaten track and venture deep into the mountains and countryside. 

  • Clouds are defined as  a visible mass of small water droplets or ice crystals (called aerosols), formed by the condensation of water vapour in the atmosphere. They have a white appearance due to the reflection of white light, but directly beneath clouds, they can appear grey to almost black, due to the blocking of light. Fog is simply a cloud at ground/sea level.

  • Clouds are classified according to their height above sea level. High level clouds are called cirrus, medium level altus and low level clouds stratus

  • Clouds are also classified according their vertical development.  Stratus or layer clouds have primarily horisontal development and normally indicate stable air and fair weather due to a lack of suitable moisture.  Cumulus clouds have primarily vertical development and are associated with more active or severe weather conditions due to abundant moisture and unstable conditions

  • Latin names are used to specify each different cloud form and would depict the form and level of the observed cloud formation 

    The following illustration summarises cloud classification:


 Pass of the Week:

Most people wouldn't have a clue where Elandskraal is. Today we take you into the KZN highlands south of Dundee to cyber drive this great gravel pass, which has much to offer the adventure tourist. From the beautiful stone Lutheran church in the hamlet to the soaring views at the top of the mountain; from the locals racing down the pass to fat sheep lying in the road - all will keep you sharp, but the real fascination with this pass is the story of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1897 and how the might and sophistication of the British army was defeated by the Zulu impis. Enjoy the video and the music video that tells the story of Isandlwana and the mostly heartbreaking consequences of war.


* * * * *    E L A N D S K R A A L    P A S S   * * * * *


New passes added this week:

Kouga-Kleinrivier Pass (EC)
Brakkloof Pass (EC)

Upgraded videos added this week:
Noustrop Pass (KZN) - Includes Battlefields history
Van Tonder's Pass (KZN) - Includes Battlefields history
Mpate Heights (KZN) - Includes history on the founding of Dundee

Trygve Roberts

Thought for the Day: "In order to create your own luck, and become the person you want to become, you need to be committed." ~ Nate Bailey. 

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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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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.

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