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Latest News! 21st June, 2018

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Cape Mountain Leopard Cape Mountain Leopard - Photo: CederbergDotCom

Turning back the clock

Some years ago, we heard about a wild and woolly route through the Cederberg and Tra Tra mountains that connects a farm in the Tankwa region near the R355 with the Biedouw Valley in the Cederberg. It even has a name - The Old Postal Route - and legend has it that the post was delivered by a lady! Some say she travelled the route on foot. Others she was on horseback and yet another legend has it that she used a horse and cart. This was apparently done twice  a month. Whatever the mode of transport, this lady has our utmost respect as this route is tough even by modern standards in a 4x4.

As tough as the post-lady

It's been difficult establishing exactly which version is accurate, but as is the case in so many of our passes and poorts, the folklore and legends get manipulated to suit the tongue of the story teller. Once you've driven this tough route, you will see why it's fairly easy to dismiss the first version, as the route is over 53 km long and traverses two substantial passes and a bleak plateau area where there is hardly any water or shade in the blistering summer season and in winter is subject to icy temperatures and snow on the high ground.

A marathon video editing exercise

We filmed this route in late May this year and took a number of guest vehicles with us as a tour option, which proved to be highly successful. Like the Bedrogfontein 4x4 route, the Old Postal Route proved to be quite a challenge to film, resulting in an 8 piece video set. The information is comprehensive and for those intending to drive the route, the information and videos will prepare you thoroughly. For those who don't have a 4x4, you can cyber drive the route kilometre by kilometre via our videos. [More lower down] 

One of the fascinating features of this route is the variety of scenery that changes imperceptibly as distance is gained eastwards. It's not just the route itself which is so interesting, but the wonderful options of getting to the start as well as the return journey. Each is an adventure in its own right. We opted to overnight at the beautiful Mount Cedar guest farm, then took the shortcut heading north over the mountains via Matjiesriver and Eselbank over the narrow and steep Eselbank (or Kerskop) Pass to sleepy Wupperthal.

Over the mountains to Wupperthal in 4C

This section of the trip was done between 0730 and 0930 in the morning with the weathered rock formations of the Cederberg bathed in the soft light of dawn in surprisingly cold weather of around 4C. We have seen the Cederberg in many guises over the past 40 years, but this trip was really special. From Wupperthal at the foot of the pass, we drove over the Kouberg Pass to arrive at the rendezvous point near the Mertenshof farm at 0930, where we got the convoy connected up by VHF radio and set the cameras rolling.

The Old Postal Route starts off with a bang as immediately the ascent of the Kraaiberg Pass begins - a steep and switchback peppered gravel pass that allows panoramic views over the Biedouw valley - one of the most popular places for visitors to see the annual wild flower explosion.

Citadelkop and Agterfontein

Things settle down as the route heads off over the mountain plateau towards Citadelkop and then arrives at the Agterfontein farm. The farmer greeted us warmly and took us for an impromptu tour of his rooibos production line. This was an unexpected bonus and fascinating to learn about the finer details of rooibos farming.

Mountain fires had recently swept through the area leaving the proteas and fynbos burnt to the ground, but the beauty of the Cederberg is always there - you just have to look for it - and as we often say "There's beauty everywhere, but not everyone can see it". The double canyons of Kliphuiskloof and Bobbejaanskloof are a sight to behold and the sheer size and scope of the valley carved out by the Doring River can be appreciated from this higher altitude.

To attempt this route without proper navigation and GPS waypoints would be foolish and even those with these modern navigational gadgets still manage to get lost here. In our feature, we cover every intersection, farm gate and obstacle, and list all the do's and dont's of the route and guide you through the various highlights of the route. There is also a free route file to download.

One of the exciting challenges of driving this route is the crossing of the Doring River, which occurs about 6 km before the eastern end. The Doring River can range from bone dry in mid-summer, to a mighty torrent of white water in mid-winter. As things turned out, our timing was close to perfect with the crossing not presenting any problems, yet deep enough to swim in. The river will probably prove to be too deep between June and November to allow for a safe crossing.

After the Doring River the landscape changes dramatically into what resembles a hard desert, with wide, flat plains stretching away towards the Tankwa Karoo. We present this route today for all to see and evaluate. Allow 40 minutes to watch the full video set. If you have the right vehicle, add this one to your bucket list. It is one to remember.

 

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We have started assembling a collection of radio interviews in podcast format. This Monday we discussed the famous lion attack on Harry Wolhuter back in 1912 which made him a legend in his own lifetime. You can listen to it on the website under NEWS > Podcasts or take the link below:

https://mountainpassessouthafrica.co.za/news/podcasts.html

 


Trygve Roberts
Editor

Thought for the Day: "One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn't pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself" ~ Lucille Ball 

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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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