Latest News! 8th March, 2018

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The last section still under repair at Tweede Water is very narrow The last section still under repair at Tweede Water is very narrow - Photo: Trygve Roberts


For some time we had been planning a complete refilming of the Swartberg Pass. The problem is always finding a suitable weather window, which takes careful planning and being in the right place at the right time. We managed to get all those components to jigsaw together on Sunday, the 11th of February, 2018. We always try to film passes that run along the north/south axis from the northern side for optimum lighting. Our old 2012 video was filmed the other way round, so it meant that the entire page had to be rewritten. During the reconstruction of the page, it needed to kept open as it's the second most popular page on the website with over 70,000 views to date.



At a gala function at the Bay Hotel in Camps bay, Cape Town last Saturday, Mountain Passes South Africa were nominated and won the award in the category 'Substantial Contribution to Geographical Place Names'. Government recognition plays a pivotal role in our goal to attain national status as the leading organisation in all matters pertaining to mountain passes. The opportunities to expand our footprint and get noticed by SA Tourism are now considerably advanced.


On the first anniversary of our subscription system, we were watching the statistics with interest to see what the conversion rate would be. Whilst we will only have a complete picture by the end of March, the February numbers have been hugely encouraging, with only one person not renewing. This puts our current renewal rate at above 99%. We would like to thank each and every one of you for the ongoing support of this project and can assure everyone that we have a lot of fresh material on the way in 2018. Our standards will continue to improve and the quality of the research that we publish will remain of the best quality. We currently have subscribers from as far afield as USA, Canada, Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, and Lesotho, but the vast majority come from South Africa. Many expatriats find solace in the website by being able to watch the videos of real South African places and it seems it fills their 'longing for home tank'



Subscribers that live in the Border/East London region can tune in to Wild Coast Radio on 98.6 MHz every Monday at 3.30pm where we give a 10 minute mountain pass talk on the 'Berg en Daal' slot. These informal chats cover various interesting passes all over South Africa. The station has promised to supply us with the podcasts, which we will publish on our 'In the Media' page on the website so that everyone can listen to them.  


With each traverse of the Swartberg Pass, the monumental achievements of Thomas Bain become more evident. Try picking up just one rock that weighs around 80 kg and start doing the maths of how many rocks were packed to support this amazing road and the amount of physical effort that must have gone into the 3 years it took to build the pass.

With our latest camera technology we are now able to produce far superior videos to those dating back to 2012, so in order to do the Swartberg Pass justice, we needed to execute the new filming project with precision. We studied the weather forecast in detail and selected our day, which happened to coincide with it being a Sunday. Everything was perfect, except for the large amounts of tourist traffic, which created considerable dust issues. This meant having to stop more than 20 times along the pass; get out and wipe the camera lens clean. The mountains had very little water flowing and it was the driest we have ever seen the pass.

What was of interest that of the 48 vehicles we passed along the pass, a staggering 31 were Toyota Corolla or Etios models (undoubtedly rental cars). There were 2 medium sized tour buses, 1 vintage car (1919 Ford Model T), 8 proper 4x4's, with the rest being an assortment of bakkies and cars of various makes. We have driven the pass many times over the years, but have never before encountered a traffic flow that equates to 50 vehicles per hour. Effectively it means that the popularity of this pass is on the increase. Having the pass closed for much of 2017 probably also produced a knock-on effect of more people wanting to experience it. It augers well for tourism in the region. Thomas Bain must be happy!

The repairs are well advanced with only a small section near Malvadraai still being under construction. The road is very narrow here, but it only lasts for just over 100m, where the road width once again returns to a normal. Kudos to the road builders who have rebuilt the old stone walls very closely resembling the originals built by Thomas Bain.

Our new video set consists of an animated overview video, which is backed up by 6 x 5 minute videos covering the pass in much more detail than before. In the process, we have been able to add in much more of the fascinating history as well. Feel free to take a drive along the pass with us and enjoy the crystal clear and super-smooth HD footage.


* * * * *   S W A R T B E R G    P A S S    * * * * *


New videos added this week:

Kalmoesfontein Pass - a 4 km long pass packed with hairpins between Riebeeck East and Alicedale in the E/Cape..

Sebico Pass - A narrow, stoney and rough pass near Britstown in the Northern Cape (4x4 recommended)


Trygve Roberts

Thought for the Day: "If you can dream it, you can do it" ~ Walt Disney 

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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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