Three groups of family and friends from Pretoria and Randfontein packed their Jimnys in preparation for the Ben 10 Eco Challenge and as we use one of these vehicles ourselves, we understand just how carefully the packing has to be thought about.
The group (all in white Jimnys) completed the challenge between Christmas and New Year and described the adventure as "the best time of our lives" and have urged us to encourage more people to do the event not only for the sheer driving enjoyment but as an opportunity to experience a remote and pristine part of South Africa, that few city folk ever get the opportunity to see.
So there you go, if a Jimny can do it - so can you! Get your entries in and remember, it's free! After every 20 completed entries we draw a prize for a 2 night stay in one of the supporting lodges and hotels. The first prize draw was won by Darell Gebhard of Knysna for a weekend for two at Tiffindell Ski Resort.
Enter here: BEN 10 ECO CHALLENGE
Subscriptions and Renewals
We've had many emails querying how the renewals will work. The first of the subscriptions are coming up for renewal during February 2018. The most common misconception is that renewals take place at a specific time each year (January). This is not correct, as the renewals occur on the anniversary date that you first took the subscription out. So if (for example) you took out a subscription in November last year, your renewal will only come up in November, 2018.
About 14 days before your subscription expires, you will receive an automated a reminder email from us, with a step by step instruction on how to renew. If you forget or ignore that first reminder, you will receive another one 7 days ahead of expiry and a final reminder will arrive three days before expiry.
Anyone may renew earlier, which is not a problem as our software will automatically credit any unexpired portion onto your term, thereby ensuring that you enjoy the full 365 days of each subscription.
Please note that to qualify for the discounted renewal rate, you must renew BEFORE the expiry date. If you miss the date, you may still renew but it will be at the normal rate of R250 for the year.
You may also change your 1 year subscription to a 6 month subscription, but there is no discount on that option. Renewals that take place via a credit card payment are instant and those paid with an EFT, take one to two days as we have to manually check the payment and activate your account. If you are paying per EFT, please remember to email the proof of payment to us, so we can expedite your renewal.
Without your continued financial support, this website cannot exist. Thank you!
Our most recent trip through the Eastern Cape included a complete refilm of all the Baviaanskloof passes and poorts. We have just completed the fully upgraded project which turned out to be an enormous amount of work, but we are equally sure that fans of the Baviaanskloof will thoroughly enjoy the new videos, which have all been filmed in 1080HD. All of the new videos were filmed on the GoPro 6 Black with the digital stabiliser feature activated. Considering we were filming from a Suzuki Jimny, the relatively smooth footage that you see, is nothing short of a technological miracle. All gravel passes in future will be filmed in this format, but be aware that it is a LOT bumpier in reality!
By next week all of the new Baviaanskloof videos will appear on the website on the superior Vimeo platform. As explained last week, Vimeo is similar, but superior, to YouTube in that the videos play back very close to the quality in which they were uploaded, whereas YouTube overcompress the videos which results in some pixelation issues. The first half are already on the Vimeo platform and the last three will be uploaded this Saturday. All our important passes in future wll be presented on Vimeo (or until such time as YouTube resolve their compression policy). We have also created a new Baviaanskloof Overview & Orientation video, which is a good way for first time visitors to the Baviaanskloof to familiarise themselves with the salient features as well as the scope of the 182 km long traverse. Here are the links:
4. Grasnek Pass
5. Langkop Pass
6. Holgat Pass
Videos 101 - Tweaking the balance between data usage and quality
There is a trade-off between data usage and video quality when watching any videos. Our videos are preset to play on Auto. Effectively this means that the video player will 'read' your internet connection and play the video back (streaming) at a quality which will allow uninterrupted viewing. For example if your internet connection is one of the old Telkom types, the video will stream at 144, 240 or 380 (low quality). If you decide you would like to watch the video in a higher resolution, then you must click the gear icon (bottom right of the player) and select the quality you prefer. This might mean that you might have to wait a while for the video to download sufficiently to allow a smooth play-back (with no buffering).
If, on the other hand, you have a fast internet connection (like optic fibre), then the video will automatically stream at the highest quality setting. (We were filming at 720 HD last year and are now filming at 1080 HD). If you find that your data is being used too fast, then you can manually lower the quality setting in exactly the same way as explained above. This will use less data, but the downside is the quality will not be as good.
In general terms, the videos stream in reasonable quality on small screen devices (like mobile phones) and as screen size increases, the quality (or lack of it), will become more apparent. We try to provide you with top quality video (this is easily the most time consuming part of presenting a pass on this website) and we always recommend watching in the optimal quality setting.
Featured pass of the week
We trek to the citrus farming town of Hankey and after driving over the tarred pass between Patensie and Hankey, we get a birds eye view of the double horseshoe bends of the Gamtoos River. It is on the first of these big loops in the river, that a 90m high ridge forces the Gamtoos river into the north. It was at this narrow cliff that the son of one of Hankey's founders, William Philip got the idea to dig an irrigation tunnel clean through the mountainside. The mountain is made up of hard sandstone as well as Enon Conglomerate - a stable mix of round pebbles in a sandy matrix.
This was young William's first attempt at engineering and together with the help of locals began digging the tunnel with picks, shovels, chisels and hammers from either end. The dimensions are impressive. The tunnel is 238m in length and it took them over a year to dig it working 24 hours per day in shifts - at a rate of about 1 to 2 ft per day. Read the extraordinary history of South Africa's first ever irrigation tunnel and the tragic events that happened shortly after it's completion, by taking the click through link below:
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New passes added this week:
Langkop Pass (R332) Baviaanskloof - it's partially paved and very steep
Upgraded videos added this week:
Hankey Pass (R330) - an easy tarred pass between Hankey and Humansdorp
What's up next week? We will be producing videos on the Remkloof Pass, Van Stadens Pass and the Doringnek Pass, the last-named being something quite special.
Thought for the day: "Our expectations greatly impact our happiness" ~ Steve Murphy