Latest News! 27th February, 2020.

Written by 
Read 736 times
Ocean View Hotel, Coffee Bay Ocean View Hotel, Coffee Bay - Photo: Trygve Roberts

The week that was:

* Recce Tour - the journey continues

* Kouga-Baviaans Tour latest

* Ben 10 V3 fully booked

* Wild Coast Tour sold out

* Podcast

* Featured pass of the week

* Words of wisdom

2020 has certainly started with plenty of action and there always seems to be so much to report on, yet so little time to get everything done. The admin office is extremely busy at this time of year processing Ben 10 entries, results, tours, bookings, registrations, validations, radio interviews, social media, magazine writing and not enough time to travel. Phew!

Trips and Tours Update

Recce: We take you with us for our second leg of our Transkei recce trip this week (see lower down).

Kouga-Baviaans Explorer Tour: Our first tour of 2020 comes up mid March where we will be doing the unusual traverse of the Baviaanskloof by starting in Joubertina, where we will spending a full day exploring the Kouga Wilderness. We then head east to Kareedouw and tackle some lovely gravel passes (Suuranysberg, Kouga and Meidenek) after which we will pop in for some light refreshment at the remote Baviaans Lodge run by our long standing friend Rob le Roux. The route then becomes a two spoor track as we wind our way over the protea clad Kouga Mountains past a honey-bush tea farm, that will bring us out at the Doringkloof farm in the central Baviaanskloof. Day 3 involves a traverse of the eastern bio-reserve over the best passes and water crossings of the Baviaanskloof with an overnight stop at the tranquil Bruintjieskraal. The final day we head even further north towards the Cockscomb Mountains and head west along the T3 route via the Antoniesberg Pass and finish up for a festive evening at the Royal Hotel in Steytlerville. We have 3 places still open on this tour. Bookings close next week Friday. MORE INFO & ONLINE BOOKINGS HERE.

Ben 10 V3 Tour: (Easter Weekend) Sorry this tour is now fully booked.

Wild Coast Adventure Tour: This tour is selling fast. There are only 3 places open at time of writing. We are proud to announce our first ever Wild Coast Tour where participants will enjoy 9 days/10 nights savouring the very best the region has to offer. Join us and enjoy driving to places few people have been before – all in the safety of a group of like-minded travellers.

The tour will start in Matatiele and end in Morgans Bay taking in many of the best sights and sounds of the unspoilt and remote Wild Coast, which is still as timeless as it was 70 years ago. Here are some of the points of interest we will be visiting:

*Mariazell Mission Station *Ramalitso’s Pass *Nungi Pass *Colananek Pass *Mzintlava Pass *Mbotyi *Magwa Falls *Lambazi Mouth (Port Grosvenor) * Magwa Tea Plantation * Port St. Johns Airport Pass * Tutor Ndamase Pass *Mlengana Pass & Execution Rock *Coffee Bay *Hole in the Wall *Kob Inn *The Collywobbles *Mveso *Vulture colony *Shixini River Mouth *Nongqawuse’s Pools *Trennerys *Kei River Pont *Morgans Bay and a whole lot more. For more information and online bookings CLICK HERE. (STOP PRESS - The last 3 tickets were sold out between the time the newsletter was written and the publishing time - less than 5 hours)

Part 2 Transkei Recce Trip

I guess I was in a state of disappointed reverie and doing my best not to have an accident in the crazy traffic in Mthatha, where everyone seems hell bent on jamming into every intersection with the traffic lights changing over and over and the cars going nowhere. I eventually scooted down a few side roads (thanks to the nippy Jimny) and managed to extricate myself out onto the Port St Johns road, where my Garmin 276CX with the calm English lady speaking had directed me towards. She might be calm but sometimes she's not that smart, or maybe it's me? (More lower down) 

I need to explain my relationship with the town of Mthatha, which was called Umtata when I was a youngster (1953 to 1959). It's where I spent my primary school years and I remember those years fondly. A clean town with gracious buildings, a cinema, a beautiful town hall, public swimming pool and a great climate. We went to school barefoot in the summer and crime was unheard of. It was with some trepidation that I approached the outskirts of my old home town as I had heard some reports that things had changed a lot. Those reports were disappointingly accurate.

Today Mthatha is a frenetically busy town with gridlocked traffic, general chaos, dirty streets and it's humming in every sense of the word. I drove down Madeira Street where we once lived - a big square single story house with a long stoep in the front and a half acre garden at the back with fruit trees, mealies and potatoes. It is gone now, having been replaced by a steel and corrugated iron spaza shop selling mobile phones and offering haircuts.

This was where I figured out I was well and truly lost.

The car dealership next door was called Smythe & Cox Motors where my mother worked as a shorthand typist. Amazingly it is still there - same building but with an upgraded facade - and it's still a GM dealership to this day. I remember as a young boy hearing that a 1959 Chev Biscayne had been towed in to the garage after hitting a horse on the Engcobo road (gravel at that time). The horse had crashed back first through the windscreen and was still inside the car, together with the carnage from the accident. Everyone had died. It was not a pretty sight and it left an indelible mark on my memory.

Much earlier near Grahamstown I had entered Matatiele as my destination waypoint on the GPS and was both relieved and surprised as it indicated I would arrive about 2 hours ahead of schedule. I should have smelt a rat already but I enjoy driving and was on cow, donkey, sheep, goat, pig, dog, Quantum, Polo and Corolla radar watch - just a wee bit preoccupied. About 10 km along the Port St. Johns road something started bothering me about the ETA. The previous hour (surviving Mthatha) had distracted me completely so I wasn't thinking that far ahead.

Now I thought "Why am I being directed onto the PSJ road when Matatiele is actually north of the N2 near Kokstad?" So I pulled over and had a good squiz at the GPS (with reading glasses on - And why is it that the font is just too small to read drom 400mm away?) and to my total surprise realized that there are actually two Matatieles in South Africa and both are in the Eastern Cape. The one I was headed towards is a tiny Pondo village and is located about 20 km north of Libode. Well, I learn something new every day. Measure twice, cut once.

After 5 minutes of finding the correct Matatiele off my very long list of waypoints, the lady said "Recalculating" and the distance to go changed from 24 km to 246 km. The ETA also changed from 16h30 to 20h15. The biggest issue was that the new route indicated I had to return to Mthatha and get onto the N2. "No, No, No !" I said out loud to no-one in particular. I had after all, just survived a 65 year time warp experience.

I then decided to do some village hopping using my instincts and some help from Tracks4Africa and found myself rejoining the N2 about 12 km north-east of Mthatha over roads that had not seen a proper vehicle for a very long time. By the time I reached Kokstad it was fully dark and the final leg through to Matatiele, where guest house owner Phillip Rawlins and his wife kept some delicious hot food for me, I was the last guest to check in.

Observation: The traditional round thatched mud hut has now become hexagonal built with airbricks and IBR roofs. Even the fancier homes still have at least one hex or round rondaval which sometimes sport tiled roofs with grecian columns to form an entrance and balcony. I think we can call this modern tradition.

(Next week we will relate the journey from Matatiele to Port St Johns)

PODCAST: A discussion around our recce trip to the Wild Coast. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Featured pass of the week: We have just completed the double video set on this beautiful gravel pass that is easy to access from the R62, yet offers a feeling of isolation with wonderful views, some technical driving and a double river crossing. This is also the first pass we will be driving on our upcoming Kouga-Baviaans Tour in mid March.

* * * * *   K O U G A - K L E I N R I V I E R   P A S S    * * * * *


Trygve Roberts

Words of wisdom: "Quality is not an act. It's a habit" - Anonymous

COVID-19 Corona Virus South African Resource Portal

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 R350 a year (or R250 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...