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Trygve Roberts

Trygve Roberts

Wednesday, 11 December 2019 13:59

Berg en Daal - Day 2 of the Lesotho-Sani Tour

A chat about day 2 of the Lesotho-Sani Tour.

Listen to the interview:

Tuesday, 10 December 2019 09:39

Latest News! 12th December, 2019

What's inside?

* Weather gone wild

* The perfect Christmas gift

* Exploring the Katse Dam

* Podcast - Lesotho passes

* Featured pass of the week

* Words of wisdom



Weather in full battle cry

From droughts and record high temperatures to floods. The Apiesrivier and Bronkhorstsruit in the Pretoria area are in flood and Potchefstroom has also experienced heavy rain. Many parts of the Free State and Northern Cape (including flooding in Upington) have brought welcome relief to struggling farmers and the country's dams are starting to fill. On our FaceBook page we posted a photo of a motorist crossing a flooded river at great and unnecessary risk to his life. We are assuming it's a 'he' as women just wouldnt take those risks.

We've said it a hundred times before - If you're not prepared to walk it, then don't drive it!


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Lesotho-Sani Tour (Chapter 4)

Saturday 28th September - We woke to a crisp sunny day at our overnight accommodation at the Katse Lodge. (We have just had news that the lodge will be closed for 2020 as they are doing extensive renovations). After a hearty breakfast we got everyone down to the interpretative centre above the Katse dam wall, where we had made arrangements for a guided tour at 08h30. After 10 minutes waiting there was still no guide, so we took our group down the little pass and over the bridge at the Malimabatso river and up the other side of the gorge where we were permitted to drive over the dam wall and as the guard explained to us, we were not allowed to stop on the wall unless in the company of the official guide.

Once over the wall, we located a large tarred parking area and walked back over the wall. This little excursion which is part of the official dam tour took up 30 minutes and by the time we returned to the interpretive centre, we just made the start of the talk by our guide, who had arrived half an hour late. The talk was fascinating and we all then drove down to the bottom of the wall for the tour inside the wall itself. There is strictly no photography allowed and a guard bringing up the tail end of the group ensures this is enforced.

The thickness of the wall at the base is 60m and a series of arched tunnels run in both directions as well as upward and downward by several levels. It's a little eerie inside the wall and the steady drips of water running underfoot via shallow channels do cause a sense of awareness of "what if?..."

Every 50m or so there are stainless steel measuring devices where concrete sections meet. These measure minute movements within the structure and are carefully monitored on a regular basis.

Tuesday, 03 December 2019 23:35

Berg en Daal - A discussion on the Katse Dam

A discussion on the Katse Dam.

Listen to the interview:

Tuesday, 03 December 2019 12:18

Latest News! 5th December, 2019

The week that was:

* Hottest temperature ever recorded in SA?

* Silly season arrives

* Black Friday

* Lesotho-Sani Tour (Chapter 3)

* Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour (Chapter 1)

* Podcast - a talk on the Katse Dam, Lesotho

* Featured pass of the week


Highest temperature in South Africa!

Hotazel (Hot as hell) is not quite as hot as Vioolsdrif it would seem, although both are in the Northern Cape, where the official SA weather station recorded a temperature of 53,7C on the 29th November. We posted that information on our FaceBook page early the next morning. The post was read by 32,601 people and generated 126 comments - both for and against climate change theories. It's obviously quite an emotive topic. Now we have people saying the reading couldn't have been accurate as the Namibian weather station at Noordoewer on the opposite bank of the Gariep registered 10 degrees lower. Facts are facts. Latest information on the matter is that the equipment at Vioolsdrif is going to be scientifically tested for accuracy.

The Silly Season is upon us!

It's that time of year when city folk flee the concrete jungle to unwind at the coast, but it's the annual levels of irritability, road rage and over indulgence that sees the death toll peak on ur roads each year. This year will be no different. Make sure you don't become a statistic. How about planning a route to your destination on the quieter back roads. You can easily do this by making use of our Master Map. Not only will you be avoiding the dangers of the highways but you will arrive more relaxed and you can make the journey so much more fun. Try it!

Black Friday

This year we decided to get involved with the Black Friday concept by offering a 50% reduction in subscription rates. Over the 3 days we gained 79 new subscribers, proving that if your offer is excellent, your sales will boom. Welcome to all the new subscribers!

Lesotho-Sani Tour (Chapter 3)
As we continue with our journey through Lesotho, the second pass we needed to drive was Lekhalo La Molimo Nthuse - more commonly known as 'God help Me Pass'. Whilst the English name is sufficient to have some drivers gravely concerned of what's to come, the reality is that the new tarred version makes driving it a simple matter. This pass rises 382m to summit at 2332m ASL. It's also a moderately long pass at 8.2 km.

Like most of the big passes in Lesotho, it is subject to winter snowfalls and ice on the road. It has 31 bends, corners and curves of which 8 are greater than 90 degrees and of those 8 there are 4 bends of 180 degrees. Some of the gradients on this pass get as steep as 1:5 and we found ourselves often having to gear down to 2nd, despite having a 4.5 litre engine providing power.

(Click on the Read More link for the rest of today's newsletter)

Saturday, 30 November 2019 16:02

Goreeshoogte (R60)

This official pass is located on the tarred 60 route just west of Robertson. The pass has a single S-curve with a deep cutting near the summit. The average gradient of 1:46 is watered down by the classic profile with some sections being fairly steep at 1:12.

It has recently (2019) undergone reconstruction and resurfacing and has overtaking lanes on both sides of the pass for vehicles ascending. The road carries heavy traffic and a lot of slow moving trucks frequent the route. There are no apparent dangers on the pass and drivers travelling in either direction can enjoy sweeping views of the Robertson Winelands. At the western end of the pass is the well known wine farm - Graham Beck wines, which you can't miss as it has a huge South African flag at the entrance.

The pass is named after the original farm over which it traverses - one of several old Dutch farms dating back to the 1700's.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019 07:00

Latest News! 28th November, 2019

What's inside?

* Black Friday offer

* New tours for 2020

* Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour overview

* Lesotho-Sani Tour report back - Chapter 2

* Featured pass of the week

* Words of wisdom


Black Friday - Cyber Monday
We are running a subscription special from today 28th Nov to Monday 2nd Dec at R150 for the 12 month package (50% discount). Subscribe, Upgrade or Renew. Anyone renewing (even if your current subscription is still valid) can cash in. The dates will simply be extended by 12 months. The link is at the bottom of this newsletter.


New tours in the planning room for 2020
As the Christmas season approaches, we will be hard at work planning the next two tours. The first will be an unusual tour (3 days) which will include the Baviaans-Kouga 4x4 Route; the eastern section of the Baviaanskloof bioreserve and and east-west traverse of the Antoniesberg Pass. We will be overnighting in quality accommodation and at a different location on each of the four nights. We are planning this tour for February 2020.

The other tour which requires a lot of planning is our Wild Coast Tour, which will be a longer tour of at least 5 days and include some of the bih gravel passes in the old Transkei. This tour is scheduled for April/May.

Our ever popular Ben 10 Tour will be repeated again in 2020.

Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour

We have just arrived back from a hugely successful tour in the Addo area - our inaugural Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour. We were blessed with fine weather throughout; marvellous and plentiful game sightings; some interesting and technical driving, but above all our group knitted together really well from a social perspective. On this tour we had a couple of firsts. We had a new shape Suzuki Jimny as well as a top end Range Rover V8 Sport. Both vehicles from opposite ends of the price spectrum, coped admirably. We will be reporting in more detail on this tour over the next few weeks.


Lesotho-Sani Tour report back - Chapter 2

Maseru, whose name is a Sesotho word meaning “place of the sandstone”, is the capital city of Lesotho. It is situated on the Caledon River, which separates Lesotho from South Africa, and is Lesotho’s only sizeable city, with a population of approximately 250,000 people. 

At the end of the Free State-Basotho War in 1869, Maseru was established as a small police camp by the British when Basutoland became a British protectorate. It was not long before it grew into a busy market town.

It is located at the edge of the “conquered territories” relinquished to the Orange Free State (now the Free State province of South Africa) as part of the peace terms at the conclusion of the war. It is 24 kilometres west of King Moshoeshoe I’s stronghold, Thaba Bosiu, the previous de facto capital. Maseru was the state’s administrative capital between 1869 and 1871, before administration of Basutoland was transferred to the Cape Colony. 

Between 1871 and 1884, and much to the chagrin of the Basotho people, Basutoland was treated in the same way as territories that had been forcefully annexed. This led to the Gun War in 1881 during which many buildings in Maseru were burned. In 1884, Basutoland’s status as a Crown Colony was restored, and Maseru was again made the capital.

When Basutoland gained its independence and became the Kingdom of Lesotho in 1966, Maseru remained the country’s capital. Prior to Lesotho’s independence, Maseru had remained relatively small; it was contained within well-defined colonial boundaries and, as the British had little interest in developing the city, there was little growth. After 1966 Maseru expanded rapidly from a mere 20 square kilometres to the current area of 138 square kilometres, mainly thanks to the incorporation of nearby peri-urban villages.

Pass No. 1 - Lekhalo la Baroa

Once we had passed through the suburbia of Maseru, we reached our first pass of the day - Bushman's Pass or more correctly Lekhalo La Baroa. 

This big tarred pass is located on the A3 main route between Maseru in the west and the much smaller village of Fosi in the east. It displays an altitude variance of 487m over a distance of 11.9 km producing an average gradient of 1:27, but there are several very steep sections at 1:5. The summit point is reached at an altitude of 2277m ASL.

(Click on the Read More link for the rest of today's newsletter)

Wednesday, 20 November 2019 11:02

Berg en Daal - A talk on some of the big passes

A talk on some of the big passes like Bushman’s Pass, God help me Pass, Blue Mountain Pass and Likalaneng Pass and the Mohale Dam

Listen to the interview:

Monday, 18 November 2019 16:54

Latest News! 21st November, 2019

The week that was:



* MPSA is on tour

* Lesotho-Sani Tour (Part 1)

* South African History (Final Chapter)

* Pass of the week

* Words of wisdom


Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour
By the time you read this we will be in Kirkwood meeting guests for our Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour. We will as usual, provide comprehensive feedback on the tour and share photos and videos. The weather forecast indicates no rain with temperatures ranging between 5C and 33C. This will be our last tour of 2019 but rest assured we have a wonderful set of tours planned for 2020 and hope that YOU are able to join us on one of them.

Lesotho-Sani Tour report back
This was our most popular tour of 2019 with 12 guest vehicles and 2 guide vehicles making up a long convoy. Once again we were blessed with generally fine weather and the sights and sounds of Lesotho did not disappoint. But let's start at the beginning.

The tour was run right at the end of the winter period as we specifically did not want to be turned back by ice or snow on the roads, but the reality is that Lesotho experienced snow on Saturday 16th November. Planning tour dates is a matter of lowering the likelihood of bad weather.

We met up at the Zuikerkop Lodge near Clocolan in the Eastern Free State, where as the only guests, we had royal treatment by the staff and excellent food. We were able to utilise their conference facilities for our first driver briefing which was attended by 37 people from all over South Africa. We will definitely be supporting this business for future tours to Lesotho.

The convoy departed on time on Friday morning 27th September in perfect sunny weather. We chose the Peka bridge border control point as it is quiet and the bigger border posts can get very busy on Fridays. The crossing took less than 20 minutes for the entire group as we quickly turned left and joined the tarred A1 heading south towards Maseru. The 60 km trip from Peka to Maseru was however, painfully slow with the streets lined with car dealers, taxis, skedonk cars and careless pedestrians, dogs and goats.

It would be some time before we reached our first pass of the day - Bushmans Pass. To while away the time, we regaled our guests with some interesting information on Lesotho:

Lesotho, officially named the Kingdom of Lesotho, is an enclaved country within the borders of South Africa. It is just over 30,000 square kilometres in size and has a population of around 2,2 million people. Its capital and largest city is Maseru.

Lesotho was previously the British Crown Colony of Basutoland, but it declared independence from the United Kingdom on 4 October 1966. It is now a fully sovereign state, and is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). [More lower down]

A discussion around the first day of our recent tour through Lesotho.

Listen to the interview:

Tuesday, 12 November 2019 12:44

Latest News! 14th November, 2019

The week that was

* Euphoric rugby mad South Africa

* How to snap a U bolt on the Ben Mac Dhui Pass

* South African History - The Border War

* Pass of the Week - Blouputs Pass

* Words of Wisdom



Rugby euphoria - The Springboks have done more for nation building than all the politicians and media put together, but the manne are looking very tired. Their schedule on their return to South Africa has been brutally punishing with some disappointed fans voicing their dismay that the Boks weren't coming to their town or village. It just goes to show that you cannot please everyone all of the time. From Mountain Passes South Africa our message is: "Thank you for bringing the cup home; thank you for being embassadors; thank you for restoring our pride; thank you for all that positivity which will go a long way towards nation building. Go Bokke!!!"


Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour
As this newsletter is published there are just 2 days left to book if you want to join our final tour of 2019. It promises to be something really special. More info and bookings here: BEDROGFONTEIN TOUR


Ben 10 Eco Challenge V2 Tour
Our final day had started on time in good weather as we passed through the hamlet of Rhodes and on towards Naudes Nek Pass. A brief stop at the Naude family memorial site is always interesting and from there we tackled the climb up to the summit. This is a major pass but the road is usually surprisingly good and can still be driven in any vehicle. Never become too complacent on these big passes as things can and do, go badly wrong.

We were almost up near the summit, negotiating the last few sharp bends, when a bakkie descending in the Rhodes direction, suddenly appeared in the middle of the road on a blind corner and travelling much too fast. The driver slammed on brakes, but the vehicle just kept coming straight at us with its wheels locked up in a cloud of dust and gravel. All I could do was move as far left as possible and wait for the impact. It was desperately close - our side mirrors almost touching. It was a local - a young manager from a nearby hotel (as we later learned). And so we keep on learning to drive defensively.

(More lower down)


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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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