A Record Breaking Month
The month of March is almost history and it's been a month of breaking new ground. We have just reached our highest ever readership on this website with 108,000 page views so far for a single month and our FaceBook feature on the Langeni Pass last week, was viewed 72,490 times, generating 2,300 Likes, 128 shares and 143 interactive comments. Of interest was the number of people involved in the construction who posted relevant and fascinating comments.
We are honoured to have been nominated for an award by the Western Cape Government Department of Cultural Affairs in the category 'Standardisation and/or Public Awareness of Geographical Names' and we thank everyone who posted messages of congratulations and encouragement on the Face Book entry. More on the award lower down this page...
Ben 10 Eco-Challenge Update
We had the first lady, Llesyri Joa, completing the Ben 10 Eco Challenge on an adventure motorcycle, thereby setting the bar not only for other ladies, but for the guys as well. The top 10 places for the challenge have now been booked in perpetuity and can be seen on the website, where the entry form is also available. Ben 10 Eco Challenge - Results and Entry Form.
Win a GoPro
As an incentive for those sitting on the fence and a reward for those that have already subscribed, we will be drawing the name of one lucky subscriber to win a GoPro4 Silver video camera. This will take place after the 31st August, when the incentive offer closes. Subscribe on this link for just R200 per year. MPSA - SUBSCRIBE
Wild Coast Radio
Wild Coast Radio in East London have us live on air, every Monday at 3.30pm for a 10 minute mountain pass talk. We will be posting the podcasts of these interesting chats on the website as soon as we receive them.
Featured pass of the week
Our featured pass this week is one of the passes of the Ben 10 Eco-Challenge and ranks as one of our personal favourites for its wonderful scenery, big altitude and general enjoyment. It offers waterfalls, a challenging drive, complete isolation and some of the finest Southern Drakensberg scenery you will find. We plan on keeping the featured pass 'open' each week for a day or two, to illustrate to potential subscribers the value that they can enjoy.
Mielietuinspruit Pass - which translates as Corn Garden Stream - is named after the large beef farm situated near its summit, just off the N11 on a minor gravel road between Ladysmith and Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal. Although not technically challenging, the pass offers the intrepid traveller a “surprise” element, in that it is a much better pass than its name or location would suggest. The road can be used as a shortcut access route from the N11 to the far more significant Mhlwane and Collings passes, which are located to the west. The road is in a good condition, and can be driven in any car, although wet weather might be a problem.
The seaside town of Hermanus lies squashed into a narrow coastal plain with the Indian Ocean to the south and the Kleinriviersberge to the north. Running along the spine of this mountain range is a narrow road, partially tarred, known as Rotary Way and described officially as a 'scenic drive', which it most certainly is, but it also fully complies with the definition of a mountain pass. As the road is blocked off at its eastern end, it means one has to turn around and return the same way.
The road is 5,3 km long which makes it a 10,6 km drive in total. It climbs 188m producing an easy average gradient of 1:28, but the initial climb gets as steep as 1:15. The road is suitable for all vehicles, but it has no centre line and is narrow, so proceed with caution. The two view sites offer excellent views of Hermanus and the sweep of Walker Bay past the Kleinriviersvlei lagoon and on towards Gansbaai.
Win a GoPro Hero 4 Silver by subscribing
This week we are launching a competition where we will be drawing the name of one of our lucky subscribers to win the versatile and powerful GoPro Hero 4 Silver action camera. There are more details lower down this page.
Ben 10 Eco-Challenge hotting up!
Another long weekend behind the belt as motorists took to the highways and byways enjoying this magnificent country we live in. Reports are coming in that the Eastern Cape highlands had plenty of bikers and 4x4's driving/riding the Ben 10 Eco-Challenge. This is heartening news and wonderful to see the challenge is gaining momentum and acceptance. This week the next five people to complete the challenge, submitted their photographic proof and tracklogs. Well done to Zak Nel from Queenstown, who completed the challenge in 3 days in a Mitsubishi Triton 4x4, and Llesyri Joa and Bruce Muzik who nailed places 3 & 4 on adventure motorcycles. Llesyri is the first lady to complete the challenge. You go girl!
Scott Hoare and Johann Alberts have secured positions 5 & 6. Entries are now at 32 and counting. Just a reminder that there is no closing date and we will keep the challenge open as long as there is interest. The only limitation is that the challenge must be completed within 7 consecutive days or shorter. You can enter here: Ben 10 Eco-Challenge.
Featured pass of the week
Our featured pass this week is an absolute winner and yet few people have driven it. We filmed this fabulous pass in December, 2016 in perfect summer weather with inky blue skies. The pass displays some of the finest engineering to be seen anywhere in South Africa and offers, chicane style corners, arrestor beds, split level corners, vertical cuttings and a 235m long elevated viaduct over precious indigenous forests with some yellowwood trees older than 800 years. Two view sites near the summit offer views that will leave you breathless.
Magical Eastern Cape:
The Eastern Cape has an amazing variety of passes on offer and this week we take a closer look at a major high altitude pass, frequently under cloud in summer and snow in winter. It's located on the tarred R61 route between Graaff Reinet and Cradock and offers 33 kms of stunning Karoo mountain scenery on a modern, beautifully engineered tarred road.
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Ben 10 Eco-Challenge
Entries for the Ben 10 Eco-Challenge are at 28 already, with just 1 person having so far successfully completed the challenge. If you want to enter, please use this link to complete the entry form and please note that entry is free. The concept behind the challenge is to support eco-tourism in the Eastern Cape Highlands. Remember there are three weekend accommodation prizes being offered as prizes for those successfully completing the challenge. We will draw one lucky winner every time that 20 entries have completed the challenge. Weekends on offer are at Tiffindell Ski Resort, Tenahead Mountain Lodge and the Mountain Shadows Hotel.
Enter the challenge on this link: http://mountainpassessouthafrica.co.za/find-a-pass/ben10.html
This very minor nek is located on the P2563 gravel road between Doornvlei in the north and Cradock in the south. The 'pass' is just 1,7 km long and has an altitude variance of 47m, which converts into an average gradient of 1:36, with no part being steeper than 1:25. There are no sharp corners or other obvious dangers, other than the chance of finding livestock on the road. This is one of those official passes that completely mystifies logic and does not fall within the parameters of a mountain pass, yet it is well marked on all official government maps, so it must have some historical significance - none of which we were able to track down. If you don't mark it on your GPS as a waypoint, you probably won't even realise you have just driven over a pass.
This short but very scenic pass is located to the south-east of Middelburg in the Eastern Cape, on the N10 national highway. There are no sharp bends and the road is perfectly engineered and constructed, allowing safe passage over the pass provided that you stick to the speed limit and are not distracted by the views. The area around the pass is typical of the Upper Karoo landscape, with low flat plains interspersed with rolling hills and koppies. The pass is suitable for all vehicles.
As a reward to all those who have subscribed, there wll be various incentives available, so keep an eye on the online shop, plus we will announce these via this news letter. The news letter itself will remain free to everyone, as will all other menu components of the website, including the Master Map and the Extreme Passes page.
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Today's pass is one of those off the beaten track roads that very few people know about. Often it is these scenic little quiet back roads that completely captivate the more adventurous traveller. This gravel poort follows one of those typical Karoo rivers which are bone dry for most of the year, yet become dangerous, raging torrents when the rains eventually come. This one is near Laingsburg and the famous flood of 1981 brings back vivid memories when floods in the area brought devastation and heartache to the small Karoo town.
Wesselsnek is a minor gravel road pass located just off the main route between Ladysmith and Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal. It is mentioned in numerous accounts of the Second Anglo-Boer War, and both the pass itself and the railway station occupied key strategic positions during this conflict. The area is perhaps best known for the Battle of Elandslaagte, which is a small village and station located just to the south of Wesselsnek. The road is in a good condition and can be driven in any vehicle, except perhaps in wet weather.
Naroegaspoort is a gentle drive with easy gradients synonymous with typical poort statistics. It includes two crossings of the Plessisrivier, which is usually a bone dry river bed. These crossings mark the start and end points of the poort. There are only two wide corners and the rest of the poort is a straight-line drive through the rugged poort, which forms a passage through the east-west axis Grootrivierberge about 50 km east of Willowmore in the Karoo. The poort squeezes the road and the railway line into its confines and both parallel each other for most of the distance through the poort. This is an arid, water-scarce part of South Africa, where much of the vegetation consists of succulents.
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.
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.