Latest News! 24th September, 2020

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Attaquaskloof Oxwagon Route Attaquaskloof Oxwagon Route - Photo: Zane Erasmus

The week that was

* Trips & Tours

* Great South Africans

* Cities of South Africa

* Pass of the Week

* Words of wisdom


Trips & Tours

Swartberg Tour 2020 (19-25 October)
We have just had a cancellation come in for this tour. There is 1 place available. More information, pricing and online bookings on this link: SWARTBERG TOUR 

Wolvenberg 4x4 Training did not disappoint as we took the second half of the trainees up the mountain to learn module 1 of offroad driving skills. With a forecast of rain we went well prepared and slightly modified the format that we used the previous week. We had a full turnout of 10 vehicles which included Jimnys, Fortuners, Land Cruisers, Jeeps and Pajeros.

The weather was on the edge but the rain mercifully held off for most of the tour. Our guests, who were all a little tentative at the start ended the day with big smiles, having been liberated into the world of responsible offroading.

We are working on a sand driving course for beginners which will be held at Atlantis Dunes. We anticipate running this 1 day tour during December. Our driver training modules will be expanded to include rock, stone, sand and mud. When all four modules are completed, drivers should be competent.

 Mpumalanga Panorama Tour - Bookings for the tour are coming in with just 3 tickets left. Don't miss out on our inaugural joint venture tour with Johan Badenhorst. This tour (which is suitable for high clearance 4x2 vehicles as well as soft roaders) includes some well known passes plus some you've probably never driven before. Passes include Crossroads, Wilgekraal, Chom se Hoogte, De Beers Nek, Patata Nek, Schoemanskloof, Wonderkloof, Houtbosloop, Sudwalaskraal, Sudwala, Hendriksdal, Koffiehoogte, Mac Mac, Burgers, Bonnet, Robbers, Caspersnek, Blyderivier Poort, Kowyns, Graskop Concrete Road (optional), Klipkraal, Bergvliet, Kiepersol, Bakenkop, Long Tom, Masjiennek & Santa. Get full info and pricing as well as online booking here: MPUMALANGA PANORAMA TOUR

Mpumalanga Highveld Tour - A shorter 'closer to home' tour for all our mountain pass followers up on the reef offers three days of fascinating travel around the smaller villages and interesting towns of the Highveld and will include the following passes:  Jantjieshoek, Kastrolnek, Kempslus, Knights, Burgers, Hattingshoogte, Barrowfield, Mollshoogte, Ossewakop (optional), De Jagersnek, Laingsnek, Ingogo Heights, Brinkshoogte, Schuinshoogte (optional), Oom Louis se Hoogte, Kwaggasnek & Majubanek. This tour (which is suitable for high clearance 4x2 vehicles as well as soft roaders) lasts for 3 days and represents excellent value for money. Read more and online bookings here: MPUMALANGA HIGHVELD TOUR


Ben 10 V3 Tour

When you read this newsletter, we will be at the summit of the Barkly Pass near Elliot, starting our first day of the Ben 10 Eco Challenge V3. This will be our first cross-provincial border tour since lockdown started and we are all really excited about being up in the mountains again with a new group of people who will soon be earning their Ben 10 badges. We will report back on progress via our FaceBook page.

We took a call from one of the owners of Tiffindell this morning and absorbed the heartbreaking story of how Covid 19 killed their business by starving the cash flow. It came at the worst possible time, just before the winter season started. Lew Campbell has told us that they are working hard at reopening the ski resort in the near future. In the meantime, the Ben MacDhui Pass remains closed. Anyone who has entered the Ben 10 Eco Challenge will still receive their stripes.

Travelling up to Elliot via Graaff Reinet we were distressed to learn that our favourite restaurant in Graaff Reinet, called POLKA, has closed down. Yet another small business that just could not survive the lockdown. Covid 19 has well and truly given the South African hospitailty industry a severe beating. One must ask the question and say: "Was it really worth it?"

Great South Africans (New Series)

Thamsanqa Kambule (15 January 1921 – 7 August 2009) was a South African Mathematician and Educator. He was the first black professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, and was the first black person to be awarded honorary membership to the Actuarial Society of South Africa. He was awarded the Order of the Baobab in 2002 for his services to mathematics education.

Thamsanqa Kambule

Kambule was born in Aliwal North.His mother died when he was 18 months old, and his aunt was responsible for raising him. He did not attend school until he was 11 years old, when he joined Anglican St Peter's School in Johannesburg. He completed a Teachers Diploma at Adams College in 1946 and a Bachelor's degree at the University of South Africa in 1954.

Kambule taught in Zambia, Malawi as well as several schools in South Africa before being appointed Principal of Orlando High School in Soweto in 1958. He campaigned to ensure the children had the best education possible, despite the restrictions of the Bantu Education Act, 1953. Orlando High School had a library named after Robert Birley, a visiting professor at the University of the Witwatersrand. He led the Rand Bursary Fund, a support program that provided scholarships for pupils in need. The fund allowed more than 1,000 students to complete high school. His former pupils included Desmond Tutu and Jackie Selebi. 

In 1978 he joined the University of the Witwatersrand, where he became the first black professor. He published a series of maths textbooks for non-specialist teachers. He retired in 1976 and promptly became the Principal of O R T Step College of Technology. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1997 and a doctorate of education in 2006. In 2002 he was awarded the Order of the Baobab from Thabo Mbeki. He became known as The Rock for his transparent principles.

Kambule died on 7 August 2009.  [Source - Wikipedia]

South African cities - 2. Piermaritzburg

Pietermaritzburg  is the capital and second-largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It was founded in 1838. Its Zulu name is umGungundlovu is. Pietermaritzburg is popularly called Maritzburg in Afrikaans, English and Zulu alike, and often informally abbreviated to PMB. It is a regionally important industrial hub, producing aluminium, timber and dairy products. The public sector is a major employer in the city due to the local, district and provincial governments being located here.

It is home to many schools and tertiary education institutions, including a campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. It has a population of 600,000 and has one of the largest populations of Indian South Africans in South Africa.

The city was founded by the Voortrekkers, following the defeat of Dingane at the Battle of Blood River, and was the capital of the short-lived Boer republic, Natalia. Britain took over Pietermaritzburg in 1843 and it became the seat of the Natal Colony's administration with the first lieutenant-governor, Martin West, making it his home. Fort Napier, named after the governor of the Cape Colony, Sir George Thomas Napier, was built to house a garrison. In 1893, Natal received responsibility for their own government and an assembly building was built along with the city hall.

On 7 June 1893, while the young Mahatma Gandhi was on his way to Pretoria, a white man objected to Gandhi's presence in a first-class carriage. Despite Gandhi having a first-class ticket, he was ordered by the conductor to move to the van compartment at the end of the train. He refused, and he was removed from the train at Pietermaritzburg.

Shivering through the winter night in the waiting room of the station, Gandhi made the momentous decision to stay on in South Africa and fight the racial discrimination against Indians there. Out of that struggle emerged his unique version of nonviolent resistance, Satyagraha. Today, a bronze statue of Gandhi stands in Church Street, in the city centre.

 In 1910, when the Union of South Africa was formed, Natal became a province of the Union, and Pietermaritzburg remained the capital. During apartheid, the city was segregated into various sections. 90% of the Indian population was moved to the suburb of Northdale while most of its Zulu inhabitants were moved to the neighbouring township of Edendale and white inhabitants were moved out of those areas.

PMB City Hall

















There exist two interpretations about the origin of the city's name. One is that it was named after Piet Retief and Gert (Gerrit) Maritz, two Voortrekker leaders. The other is that it was originally named after Piet Retief alone, since his full name was Pieter Maurits Retief. In this interpretation the original name was "Pieter Maurits Burg", later transliterated to the current name.

The first newspaper in Natal, the Natal Witness (now known as The Witness), was published in 1846.

The 46 hectare Botanic Gardens were created in 1872 by the Botanic Society of Natal.

The city hall, which is the largest red-brick building in the Southern Hemisphere, was destroyed by fire in 1895, but was rebuilt in 1901. It houses the largest pipe organ built by the Sheffield organ building company, Brindley & Foster.

The British built a concentration camp here during the Second Boer War to house Boer women and children.

During the Second World War, Italian prisoners of war were housed in Pietermaritzburg. During their stay, they built a church, which remains standing as a heritage site today.

In 1962, Nelson Mandela was arrested in the nearby town of Howick to the north of Pietermaritzburg. The arrest marked the beginning of Nelson Mandela's 27 years of imprisonment. A small monument has been erected at the location of his arrest. Immediately after his arrest Mandela was taken to the Old Prison in Pietermaritzburg. After a night in the prison, he was taken to Magistrate J. Buys's office in the old Magistrates Court Building in Commercial Road (now Chief Albert Luthuli Road), and was remanded for trial in Johannesburg. [Source - Wikipedia]


This week we head off to the Outeniqua Mountains to explore one of the early passes that we documented. The route is also known as the Old Oxwagon Route and in the early 1800's was the main "highway" between the coastal regions in the west and Port Elizabeth via the Langkloof, long before the Robinson Pass was built. About a year ago Cape Nature removed the privelege of driving the route, but at least we have most of it filmed for you via a  3 part series which we filmed in 2013.


* * * * *   A T T A Q U A S K L O O F    P A S S   * * * * *


Trygve Roberts

Words of wisdom: "The man who has confidence in himself, gains the confidence of others"

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Mountain Passes South Africa is a website dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.

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