Things that go BUMP in the night

With the holiday season looming, we thought it would be appropriate to feature some of the more dangerous passes and especially those on the main routes that many of our subscribers will be taking. Our featured pass today lies on the N10 main route between Cookhouse and Paterson in the Eastern Cape and presents a number of hazards, including complacency, wild animals, sharp and blind corners, steep gradients, exceptionally strong winds, heavy rainfall, mountain mists and lots of heavy trucks. Read more lower down.....


Morning Glory and a crash course in cloud shapes

Morning glory cloud formationsMorning Glory Clouds

Clouds are fascinating and for pilots it's important to know and understand what to expect when flying aircraft through or over the various cloud formations. Over the next few weeks we will have a closer look at some of the world's unusual clouds. The ability to observe and understand clouds, allows one to understand what is happening at higher altitudes and do some on the spot amateur weather forecasting.

The Morning Glory cloud is a rare meteorological phenomenon consisting of a low-level atmospheric solitary wave and associated cloud, occasionally observed in different locations around the world. The wave often occurs as an amplitude-ordered series of waves forming bands of roll clouds.

The southern part of the Gulf of Carpentaria in Northern Australia is the only known location where it can be predicted and observed on a more or less regular basis due to the configuration of land and sea in the area.The clouds have been observed over Germany, Central US, the English Channel and Eastern Russia, but are not normally seen in South Africa. More lower down.....

Published in Mountain Passes News

Cross Provincial passes

There are several places in South Africa, where passes straddle provincial borders. This often leads to confusion as in which province to index these passes. As a general rule we will allocate a pass to the province in which the majority of the pass falls. A good example is Vanryn's Pass between Vanrynsdorp and Nieuwoudtville, where the pass lies both in the Western and Northern Cape, but the bulk of it falls in the Western Cape.

Another good example is the Bloukrans Pass which straddles the border of the Western and Eastern Cape. That one is more difficult as the border is approximately in the middle of the pass. In such a case we opt for what the majority of available resources opine. Our featured pass today is another good example of a cross-border pass which lies in both the Free State and KZN. It has great historical value, which we explore in some depth and bring you some of the facts of the decisive battle that was fought on this pass and just to make things more interesting, our video was filmed from a motorcycle, which gives motorists an opportunity to experience the sensation of riding a motorcycle down a bend peppered pass. See more lower down.....

GoPro HERO 6 Black Review

In our efforts to constantly bring you the very best quality video footage, we constantly upgrade our equipment. Our Cape Town filming team recently purchased the latest GoPro 6 Black action camera. Our previous unit was a GoPro HERO 3 Black, which proved to be a tough and reliable camera with which we filmed about 300 passes. The biggest problems we experience are camera shake, caused by rough roads, corrugations (our version of Prime Evil), and strong wind. See more lower down.....

Extreme Passes

Thirty two thousand people have visited our Extreme Passes page. Here you can access the passes sorted into different categories - Steepest, Highest, Longest, Biggest altitude gain and Most popular. In each of these categories we have sorted the Top 100 passes into the correct order. These pages are fascinating to explore and opens up new opportunities for those seeking out the best passes to drive. The Top 10 in each category are hyperlinked to facilitate an easy click through. More lower down.....

 

Published in Mountain Passes News

Opus Magnum

Our featured pass today is not only Thomas Bain's greatest work and the longest publicly accessible pass in South Africa at 68,5 km, but it has also turned out to be our Opus Magnum. We returned to the Garden Route in October to refilm this magnificent pass from end to end including the short, stiff climb up to Spitskop. It took almost 400 man hours to edit the video footage and package it into 14 bite sized videos of 5 mins each. We have just completed this massive project and our pleased to present this work to you today. More lower down.....

A Chistmas Gift

If you're looking for a gifting idea for Christmas (or any special occassion) that is different, unique and will give the recipient 12 months of pleasure, yet won't cost you much, we have introduced a gift voucher for a 1 year subscription to MPSA which you can buy for a deserving friend or family member. More lower down.....

Understanding the basics of GPS navigation

Many drivers struggle with the concept of GPS coordinates, so this week we are giving a GPS 101 course for the benefit of all who struggle with the mysteries of latitude and longitude. Navigation started with mariners in the 1400's and it has developed over hundreds of years. The globe was devided up into vertical lines (like the segments of an orange). These are called lines of longitude and determines where you are around the globe from east to west (or vice versa). Once you know where you are in that dimension, the other figure you need to know is on a north-south basis. These are symmetric lines as if you were lopping slices off the orange from top to bottom. These are called lines of latitude. More lower down.....

 

 

Published in Mountain Passes News

KZN MAJESTY

Each week we vary our focus throughout the provinces of South Africa. Seventy eight thousand readers have voted this classic pass into the No. 1 spot. Just before this hugely popular pass falls under that dark mantle of black tar, we urge anyone who has never driven the Sani Pass, to climb in whilst you still can. More lower down....

 

Western Cape Drought

A recent trip along the Western Cape roads from Cape Town to Mossel Bay, clearly showed the state of distress by the low dam levels on farms along the way. With average dam levels registering a dismal 28%, the City of Cape Town has announced the introduction of the first desalination plant which will be based at V&A Waterfront and is scheduled to be operational by February, 2018. Several more units are scheduled to become active at various preselected spots around the coast of the Cape. More lower down....

 

 

Published in Mountain Passes News

Gauteng in the spotlight

This week we visit Egoli and the richest province in terms of money, but the poorest in terms of passes with only 11 on the database. Today we unpack the biggest of those, which is 9,6 km long and displays an altitude variance of 297m with gradients that steepen to 1:10. The poort traverses the Witwatersberge and Magaliesberge and offers lovely scenery and some fascinating history.

Swartberg Pass update

Each week we try to focus on good news. One of the snippets of good news is that the Swartberg Pass has been reopened, albeit on a restricted basis. The opening times are from Friday mornings through to 8 am on Mondays. For those who had planned sporting events and holidays to include this pass, you can now safely amend your agendas to include this magnificent mountain pass and one of Thomas Bain's finest works. We would like to compliment the road building authorities on the swift progress they made with the repair work. They are a long way ahead of schedule and the weekend concession is wonderful news for adventure travellers as well as to the tourism industry in the area, but especially for busineses in Prince Albert.

 

Published in Mountain Passes News

KNYSNA

This week our featured pass is another hidden gem, yet it's hugely popular with locals and especially mountain bikers. This 4 km long pass is gravel and has many corners to contend with, a low level bridge and a very steep and razor sharp hairpin. Steep sided gorges smothered under indigenous forests are bisected by streams with amber coloured water, whilst birdsong is the counterpoint to the burbling sound of the gentle rapids. So join us as we head down to the Garden Route to unpack this beautiful pass.

Whilst we were filming in the Knysna area, we drove along the Old Cape Road and were mortified to see the the devastation in the forests above the popular seaside town. We made a short video which you can watch lower down on this page. The residents that suffered severe losses are slowly trying to rebuild their humble homes. Many didn't have insurance and have resorted to caravans, tents and awnings as makeshift homes right next to the blackened ruins of their original homes. It's a sad and heartbreaking scene. As the fire relief and initial outpouring waned, people have been left struggling to cope with their shattered lives. More lower down.....

Published in Mountain Passes News

Today we head off to KZN to drive a well known pass on a major route on the N11 between Volksrust and Newcastle. What makes this pass so interesting is the remarkable history attached to it coupled with beautiful Drakensberg scenery, but be warned that this is a very busy road, plied by large trucks and other commercial traffic.

Lang’s Nek was named after William Timothy Lang, who bought a farm located to the north and east of Mount Majuba in Northern Natal in 1874. This is extremely well documented and cannot be disputed, but for the last 130 years, the pass itself, the road, the railway and the battlefield have all been erroneously spelled as “Laing’s Nek”. How this occurred is a mystery – perhaps a battlefield reporter or a cartographer made a careless mistake, and this has somehow been brought forward in perpetuity. Early maps of the region all have the correct spelling. Read more.....

Published in Mountain Passes News

This week we head off to Limpopo province and more speciifically to the prosperous little town of Lephalale (Ellisras). We're going to drive an interesting gravel pass of 18 km that offers a variety of driving conditions, which include soft sand, deep ruts and washaways, dense bush, wild animals, steep gradients and some tricky driving lines.

Mike Leicester filmed this pass on the 17th June, 2017 in perfect weather, which shows exactly what prospective drivers of this pass can expect. The Grootwater Nature Reserve is quite big and the entire pass lies within its borders, but the road is publicly accessible, so there are no controls or fees applicable. Normal sedan vehicles will not cope with this road (in terms of lacking ground clearance) but you can drive it in a high clearance vehicle from east to west. To drive it the opposite direction, you will need a 4x4. Many adventure motorcyclists have fallen on this road, mainly due to the rapidly changing conditions and multiple sections of soft sand, which in biker parlance equates to "The Sand Monster"

For adventure motorcyclists we strongly recommend not riding this route alone and for motorists, it would be a good idea to carry two spare wheels, due to the likelihood of punctures.

This area covers several diverse features like rare antelope species; over 500 private game reserves, South Africa's largest coal reserves, two huge power stations (including the controversial Medupi which is still not fully operational) but more importantly, we unpack the story behind the original "bosberaad" where South Africa's negotiations into democracy took place in 1989 between F.W De Klerk and Cyril Ramaphosa. More lower down.........

Published in Mountain Passes News

Circles in the Sand

A photo of some old stone ruins in Mulamalanga sparked off a huge amount of interest on our Face Book page last week (20,853 views), with many interesting snippets of information coming to the fore. The Blaauboschkraal ruins can be seen near the Crossroads Pass in Mpumalanga, which is about 6 km from Machadodorp / eNtokozweni. What makes these ruins so fascinating is the relatively new resource of anyone being able to study these stone circles via satellite imagery on Google Earth. Try it and see for yourself.

The stone circles are fascinating as they dont have any entrance points, so could not possibly have been used as traditional kraals. So what then was the purpose of these circles and unique patterns? Academics date the ruins between 75,000 and 200,000 years old and cover an area so vast as to equal that of modern day Johannesburg. It would have taken a group of people in excess of 1 million to construct all these walls.

Various theories have been put forward, some of them quite different. Read more lower down..........  

Published in Mountain Passes News

We scuttle off to the Eastern Cape today and take you on a modern tarred pass offering amazing scenery; a glimpse into the rural lifestyle of the traditional Xhosa people; some excellent engineering; and we dig into the dappled history of the town of Mount Fletcher.

This is a long pass at 12,3 km and it displays an altitude variance of 262m. We offer some sage advice about driving in this part of the Eastern Cape, where livestock on the road makes driving in the daytime a risky business and an absolute no-no at night.

Besides the obvious dangers of livestock on the road, there is another danger which has become increasingly apparent in modern times with our faster cars - and that is the issue of slow moving local vehicles. Many of the vehicles owned by the locals are old and delapidated and they drive along these modern roads at very low speeds; often blissfully unaware of the speed differential or the option of driving in the emergency lane to facilitate faster traffic coming past.

This week we bring you an update on the exciting Ben 10 Eco Challenge and some guidance with navigating the inner sanctum of the website. More lower down .......

 

Published in Mountain Passes News

Mountain Passes South Africa

Our website is 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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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...