Ben 10 Eco Challenge Road Trip Dec 2018

Our December ’18 Road Trip was based on the Ben 10 Eco Challenge where the challenge is to complete 10 Mountain Passes in 7 days.

Here’s a map with most of the detail.

The challenge of doing 10 great mountain passes each with their own unique character and challenge, was something Ann & myself just could not let go by. So early Saturday morning, 22 Dec ’18 we waved good bye to Durbanville and set course for Middelburg (Cape).

The death toll on the roads at that time was an all-time high and understandably so because every few kilometers there would be a broken taxi trailer next to the road – some totally off the road, others still partially on the road and dangerous. Luckily as we hit Beaufort West we turned away to Middelburg and encountered a large amount of taxi & trailers and funny enough, lorries. More lorries on this road than on the N1.

In Middelburg our overnight stop was Tortelduif Cottage.

Highly recommended place to stay but I suggest you rather enjoy a braai here than trying to find a restaurant in Middelburg. The restaurant we visited had recently opened on the same premises as a guest house with the son managing the guest house and the Dad running the restaurant. What a joke, the father is dressed in a chef’s jacket parading up and down and claims to hail from Mauritius where he fine tuned his culinary skills. Say what? He won’t be able to make you a slice of unburnt toast I reccon. The Garlic & Cheese Pita we ordered was rock hard, one could not bite a piece off let alone chew and digest it.

We ordered fillet steak with mushroom sauce and o yeez, that mushroom sauce was a blob of light brown gel of something. Tasted seriously crap and not worth a cent. So out of curiosity I asked the staff if our parading chef knows anything about food and in one voice they all said “no”, he just likes everybody to think so. That explains the substandard food.

Sunday morning we left for Lady Grey where we stayed the evening at Millers Wood Cabins. Lazed in the jacuzzi, just chillin…. few drinks…  A very nice place with excellent hosts.

The next day saw the official start of the 10 Passes, i.e. Joubert’s Pass. A very nice Pass to drive – eazy peezy in the Jeep off course, others might find it challenging….

 

Nearly at the top.
Dr Livingstone I presume…
My trusted navigator, Mrs Livingstone

With the first pass completed we are heading for Rhodes which will be our base for the next 4 days. We crossed the Kraairivier and Kraairivier Pass, through Barkly East and then the gravel road to Rhodes.

Wa-Ma-Kielie-kielie?

Barkley East was the final stop for petrol, fire wood and everything you might need as there is nothing in Rhodes – we never thought it could be for real but believe me the only shop that sells bread and milk is Information. In Rhodes we offloaded at Little Leeds and quickly settled in with a quick swig of Melktertjie.

The next day was Christmas so we were out of bed at a Sparrow’s fart and heading for Tiffindell via the steep Carlisleshoekspruit Pass – my favourite of the passes.

Say what?
Now this was nice and challenging and I think the steepest pass we have ever done since we got the Jeep.

Heading for Tiffendell Resort for some coffee and then on to Ben MacDhui.

Tiffendell Resort

While we were having coffee at Tiffendell Resort the bartender mentioned that the drive up to Ben MacDhui is very steep with loose sand and gravel on the road surface because of hefty winds that blew the previous two days. Ann went into a near-crazy fit and started foaming at the mouth – she and steep climbs with loose gravel are not friends at all and that meant the end of Ben MacDhui drive for me. Because it was Xmas and I am a very considerate guy, I did not push the issue with Ann and made peace with not driving up Ben MacDhui. So now we are off to Volunteershoek Pass, but we first had to drive past Loch Ness.

Another Pass done & dusted…
Check out the headgear.

Volunteershoek is in the top 5 technical passes we have done and I really enjoyed it although I cannot say the same for Ann. Poor girl suffered a bit. We eventually found our Xmas lunch spot, somewhere up the Lesotho mountain range and miles from civilisation.

Our menu consisted of 3 salads, stuffed pork belly, apple jelly and steamed rice. Don’t forget Xmas crackers, champagne and the pudding.

And Father Xmas who has been with us since 2001 also popped in.

Lekker geëet en ons moet aanskuif, die son trek water en ons moet nog Lundean’s Nek Pas gaan ry. Hierdie pas lei op na ‘n grenspos tussen SA en Lêsoontoe, sorry Lesotho. Pad is erg verspoel na die afgelope reens so alhoewel dit ‘n kort pas was, was dit nogal hectic.

Was erg warm maar gelukkig was daar koel lafenisse agter in die cooler box vol ys.

Nou is dit terug Rhodes toe maar eers weer deur ‘n hek waar ‘n donkie vir Ann staan en wag. Ou Vaaltyn wil net deur die hek en padvat.

O gonna, toe ons by die hek kom, het Vaaltyn wragties deurgebreek en is pad af, shops toe. Soos ons terugry Rhodes toe sien ons al die groot rotse wat weggebreek het en tot onder in die riviere gerol het. Dit lyk weird.

Boxing Day (26 Des) was ons dag af so ons het lekker holgehang in Rhodes en daardie aand potjie gemaak. Die volgende dag is dit aanskuif en Naude’s Nek Pas gaan verken.

We haven’t even started climbing and see how high we already are

Naude’s Nek het ‘n stukkie interessante geskiedenis. Blykbaar het twee Naude broers gatvol geraak om so ompad dorp toe te ry toe bou hulle Naude’s Nek pas om vinnig anderkant die berg uit te kom. Twee broers, perde en arbeiders – dit wil gedoen word.

Ek sê mos, hulle was nie van hier nie, hulle was gestuur
Familie Begrafplaas

En toe pak Anna klippe…

Then it was off to Tenahead. Around this corner at the very top of the mountain we encountered the strongest winds ever.

The poor sign board has been battered and torn with these strong winds.

We still wanted to walk to the edge of the mountain to enjoy the view but decided against it as the wind would blow one right off the edge rather easily. The Jeep was swaying from side to side just to give you an idea of how it was howling.

And out of nowhere Tenahead appears

Had to stop and enjoy a cuppa coffee

We started the TT Contour Road of 26km leading through farms etc. More of a scenic drive than anything else, nice and relaxing except for the gatekeeper.

Driving on top of the World

And in the far distance Tiffindell appears

From Tiffindell it was back to Rhodes and that was the day’s exciting excursion.

The follwoing day we got up late, packed up “camp” and set off to our next stopover, Conifer Cottage outside of Elliot. Getting there we had to drive over Barkly Pass.

Another Pass completed

Conifer Cottage is very nice cottage that receved 4.5 Stars on Booking.com, 5 Stars from Travelground and 5 Stars from SafariNow.

The following day we had to drive Bastervoet Pass but on the advice of the locals decided not to becasue apparently the recent heavy rains nearly washed the Pass away.

To show that we were there, I marked the spot…

On 29 Dec we ventured out to drive the Otto du Plessis Pass. To me this is one of the most beautifull Passes we did. No hectic driving but just stunning views

Catching up on some Whatsapp messages

This drive was the final one in our quest to drive 10 Passes in 6 days. Had it not been for slippery Ben MacDhui and washed-away Bastervoet Pass we would have suceeded in our quest. But a great Road Trip nevertheless.

The next two days we’d spend in PE with family and visit Kagga Kamma.

Stay Safe.

X