Latest News! 4th October, 2018

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Hanlie, Esther and Louis - the first cyclists to complete the Ben 10 celebrate their achievement Hanlie, Esther and Louis - the first cyclists to complete the Ben 10 celebrate their achievement - Photo: Hanlie Booysens

This week

* Aristata Tour

* Suzuki Jimny klaps the big passes

* Ben 10 Challenge sees 1st three cyclists completing the event

* Feature on the Ouberg Pass (Sutherland)

* 6 x brand new passes to review

* 4 x upgraded videos to watch

ARISTATA TOUR - a few places up for grabs

This week we have lots to tell you, but let's start with more details on our upcoming Aristata Tour. The tour has been specifically designed to allow normal cars to participate.

The two day (weekend) self-drive tour on 20/21 October includes a number of classic passes like Du Toitskloof and Tradouw passes, but we will be also be unpacking some new and less famous passes with very interesting history. We will stop in Ashton and have a close up on-site discussion at the new arched suspension bridge as well as drive Cogmanskloof with a stop at Kalkoenkrantz to view the old English fort.

The R62 will get us to beautiful Barrydale via the Wildehondskloofhoogte Pass, whereafter we will do an extensive drive in both directions of Tradouw Pass - one of Thamas Bain's many creations with multiple stops at varous points of interest.

The highlight of the day will be a south-north traverse of the exquisite Seweweekspoort, followed by the dizzying descent into the rugged Bosluiskloof, where we will be overnighting in a 4 star lodge in a nature reserve pampered with fully catered facilities.

The second day involves a magnificent gravel drive over no less than 6 back to back passes starting with the old wagon route over Gysmanshoek, after which a stop in the Moravian village of Suurbraak takes the route via some back roads over some passes you have probably never driven, but each is a delight in its own right. The distance is under 380 km each day, so there's plenty of time for stops and photography. We talk to you via our crystal clear VHF radio sets, which keeps everyone informed as we make progress along the tour. All in all there will be 25 passes of which 12 will be gravel. Come and experience the passes like never before.

We still have a few spots open, so get your bookings in as soon as possible. Book online here: MPSA Shop.

Size doesn't matter!

We received an email from Gavin Scott who drives a Suzuki Jimny and recently "discovered" the Mountain Passes South Africa website. He had this to say: 

"Many thanks once again for a fantastic website. We have just returned from a great trip to the Eastern Cape, and the information on your site immensely enriched our experience. In fact, I would not even have known about a fraction of the passes in the area had it not been for the MPSA site!  

We did Bedrogfontein, Suurberg, Katberg, Michel’s and all the major passes of the Ben10 challenge (I did not participate in the competition as it’s not my goal). The most difficult pass technically was Bastervoetpad, as my wife put it we had the pain without the scenic pay-off, as we had driven the pass in thick mist where we could only see metres ahead of us, relying on the GPS to show the way.

Ben Macdui still had snow around, which resulted in lots of mud. We could get to 2950m and no further due to the mud, and walked the rest of the way to the summit!" [More lower down] 

"Lundin’s Neck was extremely badly eroded at the southern end, it is doubtful that any vehicle that is not 4x4 will make it. The whole trip was done in a stock standard Suzuki Jimny - what a trooper! It simply went everywhere, even where adventure bikes turned around (Ben Mac).

It was great to see the signs denoting the Ben10, hopefully it will encourage tourism in that stunningly beautiful part of our country. The sign at Lundin’s Neck was lying flat on the ground, whilst the one on Otto du Plessis was ripped apart by the extreme wind. Bastervoetpad had no such sign."

Ben 10 Eco Challenge - a new first!

The cold and wild winter delivered no soul brave enough to attempt the Ben 10 Eco Challenge, but we have just had news from an intrepid trio of mountain bikers, who conquered the Ben 10 between 22nd and 28th September. They are the first cyclists to complete the challenge. We take our hats off to them. That is quite an achievement and we believe it's going to start an avalanche of mountain bikers wanting to add their names onto the results list.

Hanlie Booysens, Esther Lategan and Louis Goldberg reported hectic head winds for most of their week and almost got blown off their bikes near the summit of Ben MacDhui. Anyone who has completed the Ben 10 in a 4x4 or an adventure motorcycle will understand just what a monumental achievement this is. Our congratulations go to these three intrepid cyclists. You rock! [See cover pic]

Pass of the Week

One of the highlights of our Tankwa Tour from 3 weeks ago was the descent of the stunning Ouberg Pass. This mega pass is arguably the most sought after gravel pass to drive in the Northern Cape and offers not only jaw dropping views, but a 10,4 km descent through many hairpins with some technical driving included. The roads have been maintained after the recent rains and snow, and can be driven in any vehicle with reasonable ground clearance, but please take note on our advice on puncture prevention. We have produced three new videos for you to enjoy.

Take the test drive and see for yourself. If you have never driven this pass, do it before it's too late and experience the immense quiet beauty of the Tankwa Karoo.

* * * * *   O U B E R G     P A S S    * * * * * 

For those that want to listen to our 10 minute radio podcast on the Ouberg Pass, here is the link:

Berg en Daal - Wild Coast FM - Ouberg Pass near Sutherland

From the production studios in Cape town, we've been very busy mapping new passes and upgrading old passes. We have a whole feast for you to review this week.

New passes added this week:

Meidenek - a remote pass on a quiet farm road that provides access to the Baviaans-Kouga 4x4 route.

Windheuvel Pass - one of 3 small passes on the R356 between Ceres and Sutherland.

Dungu Pass - a remote and steep gravel pass in the old Transkei.

Buwani Pass - another steep pass not far from the Dungu Pass. These 2 can be driven in a circular loop.

Kobonqaba River Pass - a remote gravel pass between Butterworth and Mazeppa Bay and a prequel to Cat's Pass.

Ramatselitso Pass - a long, steep and rough pass between the Lesotho border post at Rama's Gate and Matatiele.

Upgraded videos added this week:

Turck se Pass - a short, twisty tarred pass on the R354 between Matjiesfontein and Sutherland

Amandelnek - a difficult to find, very small and remote gravel pass in the Tankwa Karoo

Gannaga Pass - a classic gravel pass that connects the Tankwa Karoo with Middelpos (2 x videos)

Karoopoort - the main gateway on the R355 for a hundred years from Cape Town to the north

Trygve Roberts

Thought for the day: "You're always learning. The problem is, sometimes you stop and think you understand the world. This is not correct. The world is always moving. You never reach the point you can stop making an effort." ~  Paulo Coelho 

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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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