Latest News! 29th November, 2018

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Steenkampsberg Nature Reserve Steenkampsberg Nature Reserve - Photo: Nightjar Travel

The week that was:

* Try our new search feature

* Ben 10 Eco Challenge Update

* Sani Pass tarring update

* Mzintlava Pass - listen to the podcast

* Pass of the week

Search is your friend

After many hours of tweaking and tuning, we are proud to announce the launch of our new search function. As with most things that experience growing pains, our original search function was struggling to cope with the ever increasing number of passes constantly being added to the database and after a few groans, it crashed completely. Fortunately there are at least 3 other ways of searching the database and most people use the Master Map as evidenced by the 90,000 page impressions. 

You can now do refined searches. Once you have typed in the name of the pass you are looking for (the blank rectangle at the top right of each page), a display will show the results and at the head of that display, you will see options as follows: All words; Any words; Exact phrase; and Ordering. So now you can choose one of the first 3 options, depending on how sure you are of what you are looking for. Select "Oldest first" under ordering and click "search" again top left. This will more than likely deliver the exact result you are looking for. Try it - it's been worth the wait!

We also added a page with an alphabetical listing of all the passes, that can be found at Find A Pass - Alphabetical List.

Ben 10 Eco Challenge Update

At this time of the year, there is always an increase in the number of entries. As at this morning's count, there are 101 entries of which 40 have managed to complete it. That equates to a 60% attrition rate, which is a sure indicator that the challenge is a lot more difficult to complete than what most people imagine. [More lower down]

Sani Pass Update

The latest news on the tarring of the Sani Pass is that Phase 2 is currently underway, which will see tarring completed up to the SA Border Police checkpoint. Phase 3 will be undertaken and is scheduled for 2020. In essence, the real guts of Sani Pass (that upper third with all the hairpins) will remain gravel for the next two years, but if you are one of those that have hankered after the magic of driving the Sani Pass, but have never been able to find the time, we suggest that you drive it sooner rather than later. Time is running out. By 2021 there will be Corollas, Beetles and Quantums trundling up and down the pass instead of 4x4's. (But when there is ice on the tar it will be much more slippery than gravel, so beware!)

Once the construction of Phase 3 commences, there will be roadworks and heavy machinery around, which will detract from the driving pleasure. Make a new plan Stan - just jump on the bus Gus - and you know the rest. This is rapidly reaching the end of an era which lasted almost 70 years, with Sani Pass being able to comfortably hold onto the number one spot in terms of being the most desirable pass to drive in South Africa. We are willing to predict that even when tarred (and perhaps even more so), Sani will remain as No.1.

To put that into perspective, we constantly log the statistics in terms of page views. The latest check registers the following statistics on the top 5 passes:

1. Sani Pass  99,492

2. Swartberg Pass  82,457

3. Gamkaskloof/Die Hel  60,191

4. Prince Alfred's Pass  53,199

5. Bain's Kloof Pass  41,922

This week's podcast

Listen to the podcast about one of the biggest mountain passes and unsolved mysteries in South Africa

This week's podcast is all about the Mamlambo river monster that reputedly killed 9 villagers near Mount Ayliff in 1997 and was the subject of an international investigation which revealed no evidence of such a creature. The deaths remain unsolved to this day, which all add to the mystique of the legend. This all happened along the Mzintlava River which is the pass giving access to the grizzly terrain.

Featured pass of the week

We head up to Mpumalanga this week to drive one of the big tarred passes, which somehow seems to escape the limelight, compared to the the popular ones like Long Tom Pass, but once you've reviewed this pass, you might be tempted to fuel up and drive this beautiful pass with its sweeping corners and magnificent views from the 2254m high summit - maybe take in a waterfall or two, or have a picnic. It's all there for the taking.


* * * * *   S T E E N K A M P S B E R G    P A S S    * * * * *


New passes added this week:

Erasmuskloof Pass - A long, but easy gravel pass just north-east of Graaff Reinet (Provisional video only)

Braambos Pass - A big gravel pass on the R344 between Tarkastad and Adelaide (Provisional video only)

Jozini Pass - A long tarred pass offering sensational views over Lake Jozini in KZN (Provisional video only)

Trygve Roberts

Thought for the day: "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream" ~ C.S.Lewis

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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.

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.

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