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Trygve Roberts

Trygve Roberts

Part 2 of a 3 part series on how to prepare for a longer gravel road trip.

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Thursday, 22 August 2019 05:00

Latest News! 22nd August, 2019

Droughts & Floods
The Mother City breathes again - After an agonising and prolonged drought of 4 years, the drought is now officially broken, with the dams serving the greater Cape Town area standing at 81.3%. However, whilst Capetonians have reason to celebrate, there are still large parts of the interior that are far from out of the woods. Water is our single most precious resource. At MPSA we think that the use of potable water must never go back to where we were. Get rid of the water hungry lawns, English plants and get those succulents going. So many people have created exceptional gardens that use hardly any water at all. It simply has to be the way forward.

The Bain Tour (Cableway to Patensie)
This tour has so many fond memories and the lasting friendships that have been forged by the 25 people who shared this thoroughly enjoyable trip. We are already planning our next Baviaans excursion!

After taking the history of the old cableway (and it's only when you're standing on the lip of that deep gorge, that one can appreciate the enormous difficulties these hardy farmers had to endure) we headed over the plateau past the Bergplaas campsites and then on down the Combrink's Pass. This winding pass was another of the Baviaanskloof passes built by the farmers (with the lines pegged by Thomas Bain). The final descent down into the thick forests at Poortjies is a long, narrow, slow and winding and there are a number of sections with exceptionally steep and unguarded drop-offs.

Winston le Roux at his cableway
After descending 333 vertical metres over 5.3 km the road finally levels off in an almost fairly tale indigenous forest. This is Poortjies - a place of visual delight where gentle streams tumble over mossy rocks and shafts of sunlight provide the light for near perfect photography. A short wade/walk along the stream will get you to an attractive waterfall.

A few kilometres of enchanting and dappled forests brings the traveller out at the eastern control point of the bioreserve. Once through the booms, you are in the Cambria valley - a narrow, lush and well watered valley so named for it's similarity to a like named area in Wales. This is citrus country and as we head east, we drive through hundreds of hectares of ripening orchards - the air laden with that aluring aroma of citrus. [More lower down]

Part 1 of a 3 part series on hints and tips for safe and successful off-road driving.

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Wednesday, 14 August 2019 17:52

Latest News! 15th August, 2019

WHAT'S INSIDE?

* Spring flowers look promising
* Baviaanskloof - The story continues
* South African history - the 1st Anglo-Boer War.
* Podcast - how to prepare for your next gravel travel adventure
* Pass of the week 
* Words of wisdom


It's been an excellent winter for the Western Cape with drenching rain falling for many weeks. The wheat and canola fields are a blaze of green and yellow; the dams are full and the rivers are flowing strongly. The region's biggest dam, Theewaterskloof, is currently at 71% and water continues to flow strongly in the catchment area. The big question is, should water restrictions be relaxed or remain?

Springtime is arguably the best season to travel and destinations like the Namaqualand National Park beckon. Our fully booked spring tour into the Cederberg area will include a visit to the Biedouw Valley - a well-known area to see the wild-flowers. We will bring a full report on the tour towards the end of August. [More lower down]

Thursday, 08 August 2019 15:56

Paardekraal Pass (R28)

Paardekraal Pass traverses a long unnamed ridge, a spur of the Magaliesberg, that separates Krugersdorp from the south-western suburbs of Johannesburg. It derives its name from the original farm on which both the pass, and Krugersdorp itself, was established. The road carries a very high volume of traffic, even at night and over weekends, as this is the primary route which connects Krugersdorp to Pretoria, so try to avoid it at peak times if you can.

Fortunately, it has been constructed as a double highway, with multiple lanes in both the ascending and descending directions, so unless you get stuck behind trucks that are overtaking one another (a common occurrence), you should not encounter any problems. Magnificent views over the farms and smallholdings of the Muldersdrift area to the north are presented, but it would be both illegal and highly dangerous to stop anywhere along the length of the pass.

Wednesday, 07 August 2019 12:02

Berg en Daal - Wild Coast FM - Jagersfontein

A chat about social media and a visit to the Free State dorpie of Jagersfontein and it’s astonishing claim to fame on the world map.

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Wednesday, 07 August 2019 09:58

Latest News! 8th August, 2019

What's inside:


* Tours update

* Bain Tour story - Chapter 6

* South African History - Anglo Zulu War

* Podcast - Social media impact and a chat about Jagersfontein

* Pass of the week

* Words of wisdom


Tours Update
August 17/18th - Back of Beyond Limpopo Tour - 1 place open. Bookings close on Friday 9th.
August 23 - 25th - Cederberg Classic Tour - Fully booked.

September 21st to 24th - Ben 10 Eco Challenge V2 Tour - 4 places open.
September 27th to 29th - Lesotho Sani Tour - Fully booked.

 

Baviaanskloof - Smitskraal to Rooihoek

The water crossing at Smitskraal has seen the undoing of many a driver and rider. It is long and the underwater surface consists of thousands of loose fist sized stones. Most of the time the current is not swift, but bikers in great numbers have taken an unscheduled swim at this spot. One of our guests, Zena Becker, has a fear of deep water and built up a certain level of angst about this crossing. We have a habit of giving our guests nick-names and as soon as her fear of deep water became apparent, we dubbed her Zenaphobia. Once through that crossing she was all smiles and brimming with confidence!

The entire convoy waltzed through Smitskraal and no one had a bigger smile than Zena. This low altitude part of the Baviaanskloof offers fascinating geology and flora. A short while after Smitskraal, the next campsite (called Rooihoek) makes an appearance. There are toilet facilities and lovely campsites, but booking is essential. We stopped here for an early lunch break, before moving onto the next pass which is the Langkop Pass. [More lower down]

 

Saturday, 03 August 2019 15:37

Nkaobee Pass (A25)

This is another big tarred pass covering 16.2 km. It is one of several big passes along the A25 and connects Seshute in the north with the Katse Dam complex in the south. There are 95 bends corners and curves to contend with, of which 23 have angles greater than 90 degrees, but there are no hairpins.

The altitude variance of 624m means lots of ascending and descending and although the road is tarred, caution needs to be exercised in terms of traffic volumes and the very real possibility of finding livestock on the road. All of Lesotho's passes are subject to winter snowfalls to varying degrees.

The pass offers very good elevated views of sections of the Katse Dam. It gives access to two airports - Katse Airport at the southern end and Seshutes airport at the northern end.

Friday, 02 August 2019 16:00

Naauwpoort (D2730)

Naauwpoort is a minor but very scenic poort located just off the R24, a regional road which connects Rustenburg in the North West province to Krugersdorp in Gauteng. It is relatively close to the Olifantsnek Dam (21 km) and to Magaliesburg, which is 26 km away. The gravel road is in a good condition and appears to be regularly maintained, but an all-wheel-drive vehicle might be required in very wet weather. Like most poorts, Naauwpoort is generally quite flat and only has a height difference of 59 metres. There are 17 bends, corners and curves on the pass, but, other than one sharp corner of 90 degrees, most of these are very shallow and will not cause any problems, provided that you stick to a speed of 60 kph or less.

 

This chat covers the second half of the tour through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.

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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.
 

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