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Latest News! 29th October, 2020.

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Church on the way to the Bastervoetpad Pass Church on the way to the Bastervoetpad Pass - Photo: Archives

The week that was....

* Tours Updates

* Swartberg Tour summary

* Ben 10 V3 Tour - Day 5 / Finale

* Great South Africans - Series #6

* Cities of South Africa - Series #7

* Podcast - A day with the vultures

* Pass of the Week

* Words of wisdom


Trips & Tours


Wild Coast Adventure Tour - 12th to 21st November (Fully booked) 

Mpumalanga Highveld Tour - 23rd to 25th November (5 tickets available)

Atlantis Sand Training Day - 13th December (4 tickets available).

Book online

We are working on our program for next year and will publish dates of the new tours as soon as we have finalised matters.


Swartberg Tour - Report back

This thoroughly enjoyable tour deserves a detailed story on its own, which will take place over the next few weeks, but here is a short summary. The single most impressive item on this tour was the astonishing volume and variety of wild-flowers. The weather ranged from distinctly cool on the first day to a blistering 51C in Prince Albert on the 3rd day. The mercury dropped to 35C by 10 pm that night,

The day we visited the Gamkaskloof (Die Hel) was achingly painful to see the deeply wooded valley left in a charred and ashen state with no wildlife or birds present. The remaining family at Fonteinplaas are still there, licking their wounds and trying to rise above the double tragedy of the fire and Covid 19. Annatjie Joubert was there in person and spoke to us about the day of the fire - Christmas Day 2019 - when the valley caught fire and they still don't know how is started. All their guest cottages and the campsite went up in flames. Her son was standing on the roof wetting down the thatch of the restaurant as the flames raged around them. And finally it was time to stand on the lawn and pray. Suddenly there was a change in wind direction and the flames retreated up towards Elands Pass. Their home and the restaurant were spared.

Klipspringer family commonly seen on the road to Die Hel / Photo: Marius KrijtPlease go and visit. Take in the ashes and devastation. Have a meal and a drink there. If ever there was a family that needs our collective support, it is there in Die Hel. They have rebuilt three of the cottages as well as the campsite already. These are good South African people that need our support. More news next week.

 

Ben 10 V3 Tour - Day 5 (Finale)

After the rest day on the Sunday, we had a long day ahead of us which promised lots of action. The weather was perfect and our convoy left base at 08.30 sharp. Our routing took us along the R393 northwards over the Fetcani Pass. We took the shortcut to Rhodes over the Bokspruit Pass and arrived at Rhodes within an hour, where we paid a visit to the Rhodes Hotel, which is busy being revamped in preparation for the new grand opening.

The old hotel is an interesting place packed with antiques and one of the nicest pubs I've seen in a long time. We'll keep you posted on developments via these newsletters. It will certainly add a big attraction to anyone wanting to visit the village, which was hammered by a lack of tourism during lockdown.

Our first challenge pass of the day was Naude's Nek Pass. We stopped at the Naude memorial site at the foot of the pass to appreciate the fantastic work of the Naude family and their influence on the area, not least of which is the fabulous pass that they were instrumental in building. When one considers that the farmers had no education in terms of engineering, the gradients on the pass are actually very comfortable. 

[Read more....]

The Naude's did not complete the pass, as construction was interrupted by the second Anglo-Boer War. The eastern part of the pass was only completed after the war by the Cape Colonial government.

For once the pass was not under cloud, nor was there any wind, so we were able to do a decent group photo shoot at the main view point (2500m ASL), which it should be noted, is not the actual summit. The latter is a few kilometres further west on a  flattish plateau at 2590m ASL.

A short stop to show guests around the Tenahead Lodge was followed by the slow and bumpy traverse of the TTT - a two hour / 27 km drive along the 2600m contour line. The final day of the Ben 10 is always a tough one and time inevitably runs out. There was still the final pass of the day to complete - the mighty Ben MacDhui at 3001m.

The drive back to base was done partially in the dark and the festivities just seem so much more enjoyable after a tough day. And festive it was, as our traditional 'Chappies Roast' had everyone in stitches. What happens on tour, stays on tour!

With such a successful tour under the belt, half of our guests were already requesting a 'Wet Ben 10'. We are busy this week planning our 2021 version of the Ben 10, which will take place in the rainy season. Are you game?


Series ~ Great South Africans (Series #6)

Gary Player DMS, OIG (born 1 November 1935) is a South African retired professional golfer who is widely considered to be one of the greatest golfers ever. During his career, Player won nine major championships on the regular tour and nine major championships on the Champions Tour. At the age of 29, Player won the 1965 U.S. Open and became the only non-American to win all four majors in a career, known as the career Grand Slam. At the time, he was the youngest player to do this, though Jack Nicklaus (26) and Tiger Woods (24) subsequently broke this record. Player became only the third golfer in history to win the Career Grand Slam, following Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen, and only Nicklaus and Woods have performed the feat since. He won over 150 professional tournaments on six continents over seven decades and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

Gary Player / Photo: Wikipedia

Nicknamed the Black Knight, Mr. Fitness, and the International Ambassador of Golf, Player is also a renowned golf course architect with more than 400 design projects on five continents throughout the world. He has also authored or co-written 36 golf books.

His business interests are exclusively represented by Black Knight International, which includes Gary Player Design, Player Real Estate, The Player Foundation, Gary Player Academies, and Black Knight Enterprises, aspects of which include licensing, events, publishing, wine, apparel and memorabilia.

GPG operates the Gary Player Foundation, which has a primary objective of promoting underprivileged education around the world. In 1983, The Player Foundation established the Blair Atholl Schools in Johannesburg, South Africa, which has educational facilities for more than 500 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. In 2013 it celebrated its 30th Anniversary with charity golf events in London, Palm Beach, Shanghai and Cape Town, bringing its total of funds raised to over US$60 million.

In 2000, Player was voted "Sportsman of the Century" in South Africa. In 1966, he was awarded the Bob Jones Award, the highest honour given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. The "Gary Player – A Global Journey" exhibition was launched by the Hall of Fame as of March 2006.

In 2000, Golf Digest magazine ranked Player as the eighth greatest golfer of all time.

On 10 April 2009, he played for the last time in the Masters, where he was playing for his record 52nd time – every year since 1957 except for 1973, when he was recovering from surgery. After Nicklaus and Palmer, he was the last of the Big Three to retire from this tournament, which is a testament to his longevity.

At age 73 on 23 July 2009, Player competed in the Senior British Open Championship at Sunningdale Golf Club, 53 years after capturing his maiden European Tour victory at the Berkshire venue.

Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters announced on 5 July 2011 that Player had been invited to join Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer as an honorary starter. The Big Three were reunited in this capacity starting with the 2012 tournament.


South African Cities ~ Series #7

Pretoria, also known as Tshwane, is one of South Africa’s three capital cities, serving as the seat of the executive branch of government, and as the host to all foreign embassies to South Africa. (Cape Town is the legislative capital and Bloemfontein the judicial capital.)

Union Buildings, Pretoria


Pretoria straddles the Apies River and extends eastward into the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountains. It has a reputation as an academic city and centre of research, being home to the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), the University of Pretoria (UP), Sefako Makgatho Health Science University (SMU), the University of South Africa (UNISA), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and the Human Sciences Research Council. It also hosts the National Research Foundation and the South African Bureau of Standards. Pretoria was one of the host cities of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Pretoria is the eighth richest city in Africa and the fourth richest in South Africa.

Pretoria is named after the Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius, and South Africans sometimes call it the "Jacaranda City," because of the thousands of jacaranda trees planted along its streets and in its parks and gardens.

Pretoria was founded in 1855 by Marthinus Pretorius, a leader of the Voortrekkers, who named it after his father Andries Pretorius and chose a spot on the banks of the Apies rivier (Afrikaans for "Monkeys river") to be the new capital of the South African Republic (Dutch: Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek; ZAR). The elder Pretorius had become a national hero of the Voortrekkers after his victory over Dingane and the Zulus in the Battle of Blood River in 1838. The elder Pretorius also negotiated the Sand River Convention (1852), in which the United Kingdom acknowledged the independence of the Transvaal. It became the capital of the South African Republic on 1 May 1860.

The founding of Pretoria as the capital of the South African Republic can be seen as marking the end of the Boers' settlement movements of the Great Trek.


Podcast : A talk covering the 4th and 5th days of the Ben 10 V3 Tour. Click to listen.


Pass of the Week:

With the future of access rights to the highest motorable pass in South Africa, looking sketchy at the moment, we thought it fitting to give you a taste of just how tough this formidable "little" pass actually is. Engage low range - move your seat a little further forwards - engage the locker - and let's do this thing!

 

* * * * *   B E N   M A C D H U I   P A S S   * * * * *

 

New passes added this week:

Brakrivier se Hoogte - A very easy official pass just south of Riversdale



Trygve Roberts
Editor

Words of Wisdom: "The place between your comfort zone and your dream is where life takes place" ~ Helen Keller

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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.
 

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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