Latest News! 4th February, 2021

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Wild Coast Tour - Part of the route for the day Wild Coast Tour - Part of the route for the day - Photo: Wild Coast Tourism

The week that was...

* Trips & Tours

* Wild Coast Tour 2020 - Day 6

* Great South Africans

* South African Cities (George)

* Podcast - Finding waterfalls in the mist

* Pass of the Week (the oldest unaltered pass)

* Moment of Mirth (New)

Trips & Tours

All our tours are fully booked up till the end of May. We are currently working on some new tours for the period June through to September, which will appear on our Shop & Tours page in due course. We have had many requests to repeat our training tours and as a result we will offer these introductory courses over the next 5 months, which will include 1. Basic off-road skills including dealing with ruts, washaways, side slopes, steep inclines/declines and recoveries. 2. Rock climbing techniques for beginners 3. Soft sand driving for novices. Those of you in the Western Cape that missed out on the first series, can now look forward to a repeat of these courses, which will empower you to venture off on your own with new found confidence.

We still have 4 tickets left for the Ben 10 V4 Tour, which takes place over the Easter weekend. With things starting to return to normal, this is a perfect opportunity to unshackle those city chains and Covid lockdown regulations, as you breathe in the crisp mountain air with so much incredible scenery, you will wonder why it took you so long to discover this remote part of South Africa.

You can get all the details, costs and itinerary on this link: BEN 10 V4 TOUR

Wild Coast Tour 2020 - Report back Day 6

After solid overnight rain, the next day turned out to be a perfect weather day. We had engaged a local guide by the name of Mzo - a smart, well spoken local young man operating a tourism business in Coffee Bay and surrounds, which included a kayak rental service.

Mzo was supposed to take us to the infamous Mpuzi Caves, where at the height of 'the struggle' the ANC apparently stored weapons. The heavy overnight rain put paid to that part of the excursion as the approach to the caves is tricky even in good weather. Instead Mzo took us to a beautiful view site on the top of a large grass covered hill providing us with a 270 coastal view of Coffee Bay. A few Nguni cattle grazed nearby and in short order some local ladies arrived offering beaded hand-made products for sale. With the major falloff in tourism due to Covid, they seemed almost desperate to do business. Our group supported them handsomely.

Whilst bead trading was in full swing, Abie got his drone airborne for some interesting group photos. From the hilltop we drove through to Hole in the Wall, where Mzo engaged four local Xhosa youngsters to look after our cars. These 'car guards' looked like they would give you grief at the drop of a hat, but Mzo assured us all would be OK.

We took as easy walk to Hole in Wall, where we were blessed with perfect weather and spring low tide. This allowed us to get really close to the famous 'hole'. The mountain hosting the hole is said to be infested with snakes. The photographic opportunities are endless and everyone had a field day taking photos and videos.

On our way back to the Ocean View Hotel, we stopped in the White Clay Pub. We had booked well in advance and it was as well as we would otherwise not have been able to get a table. The food was fabulous and the beer ice cold. The pub sits on a small hill directly overlooking the ocean with tall cliffs rising on either side. We highly recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting the area. It is really excellent.


As we left the pub in high spirits, heavy thunderheads had been building and on our arrival back at the hotel a massive thunderstorm engulfed the area - all the way past Mthatha. There are no words to describe the amount of rain that descended on Coffee Bay. At one stage at 3 in the morning, I had visions of our group being marooned there for a few days. (Not a bad proposition at all!)

Hole in the wall / Photo: Trygve Roberts

Day 7 would have been amongst the best days of the tour, but the weather gods decided otherwise. It was this same storm system that unleashed tornadoes in Mthatha and destroyed the rental fleet based at the airport.

We made an early decision to abandon the gravel route and opt for the safer tarred road option via the N2 (Idutywa) and the R408 (Willowvale) in the interests of the general safety of the group. The news, which we announced at breakfast at the Ocean View Hotel, was very well received by our guests and I'm sure I heard several sighs of relief.

There's not much to report on the day's driving and by the time we were back on gravel after Willowvale, the sun was out and the roads were generally not too bad. We arrived at Kob Inn with time to spare, allowing for beach walks and a swim for those that were feeling hot and bothered.

The Land Rover Defender was showing its true character with starting problems, which meant the driver, Richard Heathcote, had to ensure he always parked on a slope to allow for a bump start. There was no shortage of slopes at any of the venues we stayed at, so the problem was temporarily solved!

This was our first visit to Kob Inn and what a pleasant surprise it turned out to be. The food and service were excellent and the views over a neatly mowed lawn and spotless swimming pool were directly over the beach and ocean with swaying palms adding to the idyllic setting. We had booked to spend two nights at Kob Inn.

The plan for the next day was to visit the vulture colony at Collywobbles and stop in for a visit at Mveso - Nelson Mandela's birthplace.

More next week.


Great South Africans (Series)

Tshilidzi Marwala (born 28 July 1971) is a South African mechanical engineer and computer scientist. He became Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2003 and also chairperson of System and Control Engineering in South Africa. He has previously worked at the CSIR and for South African Breweries.

He is currently Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg with effect from 1 January 2018. He was previously the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Internationalization as well as the Dean of Engineering at the University of Johannesburg, a Professor of Electrical Engineering, the Carl and Emily Fuchs Chair of Systems and Control Engineering as well as the SARChI Chair of Systems Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Tshilidzi Marwala was born at Duthuni Village in the Tshivhase region of the Limpopo Province on 28 July 1971. He attended the Dimani Agricultural High School and matriculated from the Mbilwi Secondary School in 1989. In his matriculation year, Marwala entered and won the National Youth Science Olympiad and was sent to the United Kingdom to attend the London International Youth Science Fortnight.

The youthful Marwala used the opportunity to visit the University College London and Oxford University, where he gained an appreciation of the importance of engineering and science for the development of modern society.

Tshilidzi Marwala / Phooto: Wikipedia

He subsequently followed a career in engineering, but having missed the deadline for university study, he enrolled in a post-matric programme at St.John's College in Johannesburg. The following year, Marwala was awarded a scholarship by the Educational Opportunities Council to study Mechanical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University in the United States, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude (higher distinction).

In 1995 he was employed at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as a project engineer. Marwala studied at the University of Pretoria and obtained his Masters in Mechanical Engineering in 1996. Between 1997 and 2000, Marwala went to the University of Cambridge to do a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, after which he became a post-doctoral research associate at the University of London's Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine where he worked on intelligence software.

He has served as a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and on boards of Nedbank, International University Sports Federation, EOH (Pty) Ltd, Denel and City Power Johannesburg. He was a councillor of Statistics South Africa as well as the National Advisory Council on Innovation. He has served as a trustee of the Bradlow Foundation and the Carl and Emily Fuchs Foundation. He is the recipient of the Order of Mapungubwe and his doctoral student Fulufhelo Nelwamondo also received this order. He was the first African engineer to be awarded the President Award by the National Research Foundation of South Africa.

One of the books he co-authored on modelling interstate conflict has been translated into Chinese by the National Defense Industry Press. He is a fellow of TWAS, The World Academy of Sciences, Academy of Science of South Africa and African Academy of Sciences as well as a senior member of the IEEE and a distinguished member of the Association for Computing Machinery. His work and opinion have appeared in media such as New ScientistTime,The Economist, CNN, BBC, Rhodes House and Oxford Union. In 2016 Tshilidzi Marwala delivered the Bernard Price Memorial Lecture in South Africa. With Stephen Hawking and Guy Laliberté he was a judge of the YouTube Space Lab competition.

Marwala's research interests include the theory and application of artificial intelligence to engineering, computer science, finance, economics, social science and medicine. Marwala has made fundamental contributions to engineering science including the development of the concept of pseudo-modal energies, proposing the theory of rational counterfactual thinking, rational opportunity cost and the theory of flexibly bounded rationality. Marwala was a co-inventor of the innovative methods of radiation imaging and with Megan Jill Russell as well as David Rubin the artificial larynx. Marwala also observed that the applicability of prospect theory depends on how much artificial intelligence is used to make a decision. He also observed that the more artificial intelligence is used for decision making the more efficient the markets become. For example, if all decisions are made by artificially intelligent machines then the markets will be fully rational. Marwala together with Israeli researcher Daniel Muller mathematically solved the St. Peterburg paradox through the use of the concept of the relative net utility.

Marwala together with Evan Hurwitz proposed that there is less level of information asymmetry between two artificial intelligent agents than between two human agents and that the more artificial intelligence there is in the market the less is the volume of trades in the market. With Evan Hurwitz, Marwala was the first researcher to build software agents that are able to bluff on playing a game of poker. Tshilidzi Marwala and Evan Hurwitz in their book applied Lewis turning point theory to study the transition of the economy into automated production and identified an equilibrium point (Lewis turning point) where it does not make economic sense to move human labor to automated machines.

Tshilidzi Marwala and Evan Hurwitz in their book observed that the advent of intelligent online buying platforms such as Amazon and technologies such as flexible manufacturing offers the opportunity for individualized supply-and-demand curves to be produced. They observed that these reduce the degree of arbitrage in the market, permit for individualized pricing for the same product and brings fairness and efficiency into the market. Furthermore, with Evan Hurwitz in their book they observed that decision making and predicting machines that are executed using artificial intelligence and other machine learning techniques reduce the biases and variances of the errors on decision making and thus make decisions in a closer manner to the conclusions of rational expectations theory than human decision makers. Marwala and Bo Xing have also studied the relationship between blockchain and artificial intelligence. In his response to Bill Gates, Marwala has also brought to the attention of the difficulty of taxing robots given the fact that a great deal of the devices that we use have robotics features.

And that MPSA readers, is one hell of a resume! Proudly South African!

South African Cities (Series)

George is the second largest city in the Western Cape province of South Africa. The city is a popular holiday and conference centre and the administrative and commercial hub and the capital city of the Garden Route.

The city is situated roughly halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth on the Garden Route.[3] It is situated on a 10-kilometre plateau between the Outeniqua Mountains to the north and the Indian Ocean to the south. The former township of Pacaltsdorp, now a fully incorporated suburb, lies to the south.

George is located in a beautiful setting in the heart of the Garden Route / Photo: George Information

The city of George was established as a result of the growing demand for timber and the wood used in building, transport and furniture. In 1776 the Dutch East India Company established an outpost for the provision of timber; its location is thought to be near the western end of York Street. The Timber Post had its own Poshouer (manager), some 12 woodcutters, a blacksmith, wagon maker and 200 oxen plus families. After 1795 and the British occupation of the Cape, a caretaker of the forests in the area was appointed. After the second British occupation in 1806, it was decided that the Swellendam magistracy was too large and needed to be sub-divided. George was chosen because of the availability of good water. In 1811 George was declared a separate district and Tiaan Swart was appointed the first Landrost (magistrate) and the town was proclaimed by the Earl of Caledon, governor of the Cape Colony on St George's Day, 23 April 1811, and named after the reigning British monarch, King George III. One of Van Kervel's first acts as Landrost (Mayor), was to dig a furrow to supply the first thirty six plots in George with water. An 1819 map shows the original furrows and storage dam where they remain to this day in the Garden Route Botanical Gardens. The first Furrow originated from the Rooirivier (Red river) and later a diversionary weir was built at the Camphersdrift River. George gained municipal status in 1837.

From 1772 there was a gradual influx of settlers intent on making a living from the forests. These were mostly descendants of the Dutch settlers. In early days the lives and livelihood of the people revolved around the timber industry and the rich forests in the vicinity and it remained a quiet outpost. It was the dramatic improvement of communications – the roads, rail and air links eclipsing the ox-wagons and coastal steamers of the 19th century - that exposed other charms and resources of the region and resulted in unprecedented growth for the town.

From the beginning of European colonisation in South Africa in 1652, timber and the provision of various woods was of paramount importance for the survival of the settlers. Once forest areas near the present Cape Town were exhausted, the search for more timber continued along the coast.

The great forests of the Southern Cape were discovered as early as 1711, but because of their inaccessibility it was only in 1776 that the Dutch East India Company established a timber post where George is today.

Early woodcutters and their families lived in forest clearings where they evolved into a closely knit community where intermarriage was common. The men were thin and wiry, but they were also tough and strong with an incredible skill in felling, sawing and handling timber.

The utilization of the forest trees led to such industries as furniture and wagon making. By 1910 several large sawmills had been established in the district. Timber for export was transported to coastal ports by ox wagon.

Today you will find sawmills with the ultimate in modern wood technology and innovative furniture factories in the Southern Cape. Unique to this area is the age-old technique and skill of manufacturing wood furniture by hand.

What the visitor sees in the George museum today has grown from the private collections of one man, Charles Sayers. He was the owner and long-time editor of the George & Knysna Herald, a newspaper established by his parents in 1881. Sayers collected and preserved all aspects of his hometown's history, with a specialist interest in old mechanical musical instruments and typewriters which today form the nucleus of the museum's important collections.

In 1966 he opened his "Mini Museum" to the public, housed in a single room adjoining a café in Courtenay Street. The people loved it and much encouraged by local authorities he moved to the original George Town House – the administrative building next to the market square which dated back to 1847. By now the Sayers Museum had attracted the attention of officialdom and barely six months after the move it attained provincial museum status as a fully-fledged cultural history museum for the region, with indigenous timber and its allied industries as its main theme. The growing popularity led to another move, this time to the building, which had been the original drostdy (magistrate's residence and office) in the young town. The original "Mini Museum" has been re-created within the present George Museum. George is also the home town of the famous Adre Le Roux, who drove out the Portuguese and lay claim to the land that was rightfully hers.

In 1668 the first European explorer, Hieronymous Cruse, penetrated Outeniqualand with its dense indigenous forest. The highest peak in the Outeniquas is Cradock Peak (1578 m) and the prominent George Peak is 1337 metres high.

The name Outeniqua is derived from the Khoi word meaning "man laden with honey". The slopes of the emerald-green mountains were covered with heather and swarming with bees, according to the reports left by early travellers. "Nature has made an enchanting abode of this beautiful place", wrote the 18th century traveller Le Vaillant, when he entered the foothills of the Outeniqua range in the Southern Cape. A great deal of that enchantment and delicate beauty still captivates the modern traveller. For instance, there is the rare George lily (Cyrtanthus elatus), found near water in the deep ravines of the mountain, and a variety of ericas and proteas thrive on the fern-clothed slopes. Carpets of pink watsonias are a common sight during summer.


The story on the Wild Coast Tour during November last year continues. Click here to listen:

Pass of the Week

George and environs plays host to several impressive passes. We have selected the oldest unaltered pass still in use today as our featured pass of the week.


* * * * *   M O N T A G U   P A S S   * * * * *


Trygve Roberts

Smart comment of the day: "The quickest way to make a red light turn to green is to look for something in the cubby hole" ~ Billy Connolly


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