Trygve Roberts

Trygve Roberts

Saturday, 08 December 2018 07:16

Boesmanspoort (Prince Albert)

This hidden poort is well off the beaten track yet not that far from main routes and towns. It's located along the east-west axis and approximately 5 km north of the R407 between Prince Albert and Klaarstroom. This is a typical farm road that carries very low traffic volumes, so you will enjoy a sense of isolation and tranquility.

As is the case with all gravel roads, be prepared for punctures, and expect corrugations (depending on when last rain fell or maintenance took place). Livestock on the road is also an ever present danger.

We have not physically driven this poort ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps. The possibility exists that you might encounter locked farm gates. Make sure you have sufficient fuel to backtrack.

Friday, 07 December 2018 07:03

Blounek (Merweville)

There are three Blounek passes in South Africa and all of them are of a minor nature. This one is located on the gravel road between Merweville in the north and the Koup railway siding off the N1 in the south. It's not much of a pass at 2 km in length with a small altitude variance of 42m producing an easy average gradient of 1:48 with the steepest sections reaching 1:11.

The pass only has 2 bends and if you have not plotted the start and end points into your GPS, you might drive over it without realising it's an official pass.

The best reason for driving this pass is that it will take you to the little village of Merweville, which is packed with interesting buildings, fascinating history and earthy, friendly people.

We have not physically driven this pass ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps. The possibility exists that you might encounter locked farm gates. Make sure you have sufficient fuel to backtrack.

Thursday, 06 December 2018 06:35

Bitterwater se Hoogte

This minor little pass of only 2,5 km has an altitude variance of 63m producing a mild average gradient of 1:40 and no point ever exceeds 1:12, making this an easy enough traverse. The Northern Cape government cartographers were keen to name every poort and pass that they could possibly find and this is one of many official passes, which barely comply with the basic definition of a pass, but it's official, so we have produced and indexed it for the sake of thoroughness.

There is a certain kind of pleasure in actually navigating your way successfully to locate these out of the way passes and poorts, so if you hunt this one down, remember to enjoy the 'getting there' part to the full. This part of the Northern Cape is achingly dry, barren and underpopulated. Drive well prepared for punctures and make sure you have enough fuel.

We have not physically driven this pass ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps. The possibility exists that you might encounter locked farm gates. Make sure you have sufficient fuel to backtrack.

Wednesday, 05 December 2018 06:48

Basterspoort

Basterspoort is about as minor a poort as what a poort can get. It is just 1,9 km long and only has a 12m altitude variance. It's located on a farm track which is barely discernable on the satellite imagery close to the border between the Western and Northern Cape.  This is an official poort as listed on the government 1:50,000 maps. It should not be confused with Bastards Poort about 80 km further south.

The road follows the valley of a natural poort along the south-western side of a mountain named Beesberg. (Cattle Mountain) and connects a few remote farms. It is possible to drive from the R381 to the R356 using this road and a combination of other roads. There is a possibility that this road (and others) might be gated and locked, so if you're an uber pass hunter, drive here at your own risk and make sure you have enough fuel in case you have to retrace your route.

We have not physically driven this pass ourselves as yet, so our description and research is based on available resources and government maps.

A discussion on the tarring of the Sani Pass; Tiger fishing at lake Jozini; Understanding the new search functionality on the website; Ben 10 Challenge update, and a look at the Thomas Bain Rooihoogte Pass.

Listen to the interview: 

Sunday, 02 December 2018 14:38

Addo Heights Pass

This is an official pass as logged on the government maps, but when you drive it, you will wonder which cartographer had the courage to name this road a pass as there is very little that resembles a real mountain pass, other than it's vertical profile. Despite its very long length of 18,7 km and a respectable altitude variance of 286m, it only has 10 bends, corners and curves and none of them exceeds 30 degrees radius.

What you will enjoy is a feeling of remoteness in the dense Addo bush and the possibility of spotting game. This pass will only be driven by the more serious pass enthusiast. The usual Eastern Cape cautionaries apply of corrugations, and loose gravel on corners as well as livestock and pedestrians on the road.

Saturday, 01 December 2018 08:31

Witsieshoek Pass

This impressive pass has a lot to offer. It edges along a ridge of the Drakensberg range and requires a fairly big detour to drive it. The pass consists of a mix of tar and gravel and is 13,3 km long and falls mostly within the boundaries of the Witsieshoek Transfrontier Park. It's an out and back pass which ends at the Witsieshoek viewpoint, which is the springboard for a number of hiking and climbing routes. Parts of the road cross into the Royal Natal National Park World Heritage Site.

The pass is peppered with bends - 72 of them in total, of which 12 exceed 90 degrees radius. This is a big ascent of 658m, but the fairly long distance takes the sting out of the average gradient which measures in at 1:20, but be aware that some of the steeper sections are very steep at 1:5. An overnight stay at the well run Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge is the main reason most people drive this road, and for hikers and climbers the end of the road is Sentinel peak car park which gives acces to the Amphitheatre - a springboard to the raw beauty of the Drakensberg.

This week’s talk is on the major Mzintlava Pass near Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape and the fascinating story of the 9 villagers that were found dead in the river, supposedly eaten by a creature they called ‘Mamlambo’.

Listen to the interview: 

Thursday, 06 December 2018 05:00

Latest News! 6th December, 2018

The week that was:

* 2018 ABF Tour - Langeberg Conqueror

* Corrugations - the one feature of gravel roads that no-one enjoys. We show how how to beat the bumps.

* Podcast - a discussion on a range of topics from tiger fishing to Thomas Bain.

* Pass of the Week

* New passes added this week

Langeberg Conqueror Tour - 30th December, 2018

For those of you in the Western Cape or anyone from inland coming to the Cape for the holidays, we are putting on a spectacular final tour of the year on Sunday 30th December, 2018 that makes for a perfect opportunity to get the family out for the day before the New Year celebrations begin. The tour includes a full ascent and descent of the Langeberg mountains (1493m ASL) on a private road not normally open to the public. We got special permission for this one, so it promises to be a fantastic fun filled family day that will include a range of other passes, mostly gravel, as we work our way through a wide 165 km long loop along the Karoo escarpment. Our last 3 tours were all sold out within 48 hours, so book online right now: LANGEBERG CONQUEROR TOUR

Corrugations and Safety

As many South Africans gear up towards the annual holiday rush to the coast, we are focussing on road safety - not just on the tarred roads, but especially on the gravel back roads. In today's news letter, we have a look at the topic of corrugations and how best to deal with them. Corrugations are abhorred by all drivers (and passengers) and can ruin a great country style drive, but there is a way to reduce the shaking and improve the ride. Corrugations are one of the main culprits causing rollovers.

It won't be the gnarly hills, flooded river crossings or the axle deep sands of Namaqualand that test the endurance of your vehicle, but the gutted corrugations of the roads that lead to many iconic off the beaten track destinations.

It's these corrugations that will see mirrors rattle apart, aerials come adrift, roof racks rub through paint and the contents of your camping kit eventually disintegrate until they resemble nothing of the finely organised packing system that you started with.

There are a hundred theories on how dirt roads become corrugated and they encompass everything from over-zealous truck drivers, to braking too hard before corners, to overloaded vehicles and over inflated tyres. Regardless of how corrugations form, driving on them is uncomfortable and eventually shakes your vehicle to pieces.

If you plan on travelling the backroads of South Africa then you are going to encounter endless kilometres of corrugated dirt roads, but you can take a few measures to reduce their bone-rattling affects.

Get Your Tyres Down and Your Speed Up

It's not often that you're advised to go faster during an unpleasant driving experience but it is fact when driving over corrugations that 60kph may be a lot more comfortable than 30kph and 80kph - 90kph may be even better. We aren't suggesting you belt around the bush at 140 because when you eventually put your car on it's roof - you'll blame us, but there is a distinct speed that is 'right' for every vehicle.

The key is to synchronise all the elements of your car with the corrugations - the pressure in your tyres, the weight of your car and its suspension and handling characteristics. Finding the best speed for your particular vehicle will see these variables all align in some sort of harmony that sees you floating on top of the corrugations rather than rattling between them. [Read more lower down...]

 

Wednesday, 28 November 2018 08:53

Weenen Pass (R392)

The Eastern Cape Highlands spawned many great gravel passes, but the Weenen Pass is amongst the least known of those. It lies along the R392 route between Lady Grey in the north and Dordrecht in the south. It's well above the national average in terms of length at 8,4 km and displays an altitude variance of 378m, which produces an average gradient of 1:22.

The pass never gets steeper than 1:11 at any point making the road suitable for all vehicles except in very heavy rain or snow conditions. The usual gravel road cautionaries apply - such as corrugations, loose gravel on the corners, ruts and washaways and of course every Eastern Cape pass is automatically coded red for livestock on the road.

Most of the 16 bends, corners and curves are well below 90 degrees radius and what is different about this pass is that it does not display a dominant direction, but runs north-south as well as east-west in equal proportions.

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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.
 

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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.

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