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Latest News! 17th January, 2019

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Blyderivierspoort or Molatse Canyon Blyderivierspoort or Molatse Canyon - Photo: Google Images

THE WEEK THAT WAS:

* Ben 10 new video

* Tower to Tower Tour feedback

* Podcast

* Pass of the week

This week we are featuring an unusual pass in Mpumalanga that many people have driven, but perhaps not realised that it's a mountain pass. A lovely tarred road with sweeping curves follows the southern side of the magnificent Blyderivierspoort Canyon and climbs an impressive 480m over 23 km. It's that long distance, which lulls drivers into believing they aren't really climbing, which produces an easy average gradient of 1:47. The pass has a number of false summits, which breaks the whole pass up into a series of smaller passes. Most of this traverse reveals tantalising glimpses of the canyon on the left, which requires detours down to the various view-points to marvel at some of the finest scenery on offer in South Africa. [More lower down]

The Ben 10 Eco Challenge is attracting an ever increasing number of participants with the latest number of entries standing at 125, with 55 having successfully completed it. That ratio of around 45% has remained constant since the event was launched and is a clear indicator that the challenge is not as easy as many people think. The latest trend amongst the adventure motorcycling fraternity is to try and complete the event in one day. This is definitely not in the spirit of the Ben 10 with the idea being to take your time, enjoy the scenery, relax and support local businesses. [More lower down]

However, the rules state that the challenge must be completed within 7 days and if you decide to do it in one day, that is your choice. A second group of bikers have just completed the event in a single day. The first group, who rode it on December 30th, which consisted of a father-son duo, produced an excellent video, which clearly shows some of the best and most tricky sections of the challenge. We recommend anyone wanting to attempt the Ben 10 to watch the video, which we have embedded on the Ben 10 page. The video can be found just below the rules section.

Tours Update: Our Tower to Tower Tour last Saturday was another huge success. This fully booked tour included an historical route through Moorreesburg and Koringberg, where we had the privilege of having a local architect, Joe de Villiers and friends as guests on the tour. We adapted our normal style and got Joe to lead the tour through Koringberg and take over the radio commentary which was done in true South African style by a local gent with the nickname of Cokes. Let's just say it was highly entertaining!

The technical part of the tour was the ascent of Koringberg/Swartberg - two prominent local mountains joined by a low saddle. We had two 4x2 vehicles in our group and all vehicles made it up to the first tower without any issues. Fabulous sunny and wind free weather made the mountain top stop thoroughly enjoyable, but the the southern descent involves much more difficult terrain, where a very basic track has been bulldozed down the mountain through nine extremely sharp switchbacks, requiring multiple point turns to get through each one.

The two 4x2 vehicles were sent back the way we had ascended to ensure their safety, whilst the the 4x4's tackled the descent. We posted a number of short videos on our Face Book page showing some of the sections, which are worth reviewing. After clearing through four locked gates, we returned to the Koringberg start to join up with the two 4x2 vehicles at Die Ark.

Gravel road options were selected as we headed north towards the Berg River and a visit to the mission village of Goedverwacht, whilst the history (dating back to the early 1800's) of the farmer and his female slave was relayed over the radio. The farmer ultimately bequeathed the farm to his slave and first generation children, after whose passing, the land would go to the church. History ran its course (not without some dissent of course) and the beautiful stone church one can visit today in Goedverwacht bears testimony to prove the history correct. A visit to the church is a must where the stones selected for the construction are a wonder of nature.

A slow drive up the Januariesfontein Pass got us to the mountain top known as Bo-Piketberg, where another of our tour guests, Trevor Hall, just happened to own a farm. Trevor graciously invited the entire group to enjoy our lunch break at his home. We don't always have things this easy! After lunch it was a dizzying and fabulous descent of the winding Versfeld  Pass and on down to Piketberg.

If you intend booking on one of our tours, please get in early as they are usually fully booked within 2 days of release. You can sign up for the tours newsletter on the home page. Our next tour through the Southern Cederberg on February 3rd., is already sold out.

Listen to the podcast:

 

Pass of the Week:


* * * * *   B L Y D E R I V I E R S P O O R T    P A S S   * * * * *

 


Trygve Roberts
Editor

Thought for the day: "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." ~ Confucius 

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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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