Latest News! 19th July, 2018

Written by 
Read 1029 times
Looking south from Hondverbrand with the Blinkberg Pass winding up to the next neck. Looking south from Hondverbrand with the Blinkberg Pass winding up to the next neck. - Photo: Hannes Steyn/Tracks4Africa


We are back in the Western Cape this week with our featured pass pass being a major gravel pass peppered with sharp corners, very steep gradients and breathtaking Cederberg scenery. I recall the first time I ever drove this route back in 1988 in a VW Kombi on a very wet and cold winter's day. I fell in love with this road and have been back so many times, I've lost count. To be honest, I would rank this as my personal favourite gravel road. It plays host to a number of excellent passes, depending on your approach. On the southern side there are Michells, Gydo, Katbakkies, Peerboomskloof and Blinkberg passes. To the north there are Uitkyk, Kromrivier, Nieuwoudts, Pakhuis, Kouberg, Hoek se Berg and Eselbank passes.   (More lower down)

Pretty strange (The grammar police are roaming)

We're quite relaxed about grammar in general but this week we would like to focus on one of the most abused words in the English language and maybe we can have an influence on at least 100,000 people by creating an awareness - and from there it can grow.  Everytime I hear it being misused, I cringe. The word is "pretty." Most of us have become so anaesthetised to it's misuse that we are not even aware of what we are saying in everyday language. Remember the complete and total abuse of the word "like" just a few years ago? "I'm (like) going to the movies (like)"

Synonyms for pretty are: Attractive, lovely, good-looking, nice-looking, fetching, prepossessing, appealing, charming, delightful, nice, engaging, pleasing.

But these days 'pretty' is used to describe pretty much anything (see what I mean!). More lower down.....

Pretty average, pretty ugly, pretty useless, pretty neat, pretty stupid, pretty tough, pretty easy and so on. It's a long list and most of us are guilty of using this word incorrectly at least once or twice a day. Used in that format the word becomes meaningless. So there is your challenge for the week. Use 'pretty' to describe something that is attractive. So what on earth has this got to do with mountain passes?

Well a few weeks ago we filmed a really pretty pass that forms part of that great gravel road (the P1482) between the Nuwerus farm and Mount Ceder. Not to be trifled with, this pass has many very sharp corners (particularly on the southern side) and gets extremely steep near the summit with gradients at 1:5 - which is pretty steep.

We've towed a couple of FWD cars up there over the years that just couldn't make it up the slippery inclines after rain. The summit has the bizarre name of Hondverbrand and no-one seems to be able to come up with a reasonable explanation for the name. At the summit one gets treated to dramatic views of the road snaking its way down the valley and up towards the next neck. It's a view that's impossible to get tired of - the Cederberg at it's finest.

We're talking of course, about the Grootrivierhoogte Pass which climbs 510 vertical metres over roughly 5 kms then descends almost as much down the other side. Did you know that this pass is also sometimes called the Varkkloof Pass? Many people enjoy this road and in particular it's a perennial favourite with the adventure biker set. You won't drive this road on a weekend without coming across motorcyclists, such is its popularity.

We have just produced a brand new double video set on this lovely pass and invite you to explore it with us today. From farm fresh olives to citrus orchards - from San rock art to fresh water angling - from horse riding to hiking trails - its all there waiting to be enjoyed. Winter in the Cederberg is simply the best!

The MPSA Route Planner

The top selling item in our online shop is our route planning spreadsheet (designed and maintained by Mike Leicester). It can be used offline or online and offers all the vital information you will need to know on any pass - a perfect travel companion when you need information at the touch of a button.

This includes the pass name, any alternative names, the province it's in, distance to and nearest town, vehicle type suited to, road surface, altitude variance, maximum altitude, length, GPS coordinates of start, summit and end plus a hyperlink to the pass page on the MPSA website (providing you are online). Also available on the spreadsheet if you're online is an interactive, zoomable map showing where each pass is.

The spreadsheet is a powerful planning tool and if you know the basics of spreadsheets, you can group the passes by province or by any of the columns available. It's also a neat way to mark off the passes you have already travelled by adding a colour or mark. It can be purchased for R195 and is yours for life via this link: https://shop.mountainpassessouthafrica.co.za/product-category/digital-download/

Spoil a friend

You can surprise a friend or family member with a 1 year gift subscription to the MPSA website which is delivered digitally. Gift vouchers (R250) can be purchased here: https://shop.mountainpassessouthafrica.co.za/product-category/gift-vouchers/ and we'll do the rest (and you can add a personalised message!)


Every Monday we do a radio interview. Subscribers can listen to the podcasts a day later on the link below. We usually discuss the pass that is featured for the week and the talks last 10 to 15 minutes. It's a great way to catch up on the latest news and other interesting snippets not mentioned in our newsletter. The podcasts are listed from newest to oldest.



Pretty cool huh?

And that's pretty much it for this week! Be strong.....


* * * * *   G R O O T R I V I E R H O O G T E    P A S S  * * * * *


Trygve Roberts

Next week: We're back in Mpumalanga to drive one of the best gravel roads in that province.

Thought for the day: "There is no such thing as a failed experiment. Only experiments with unexpected outcomes." ~ Richard B. Fuller

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter with News and Updates from Mountain Passes South Africa

Subscribe to our Site

Subscribe for only R300 a year (or R210 for 6 months), and get full access to our website including the videos, the full text of all mountain passes articles, fact-file, interactive map, directions and route files.



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...