South Africa’s Favourite Passes & Poorts, by Marion Whitehead.
South Africa’s Favourite Passes & Poorts, more than 80 best loved passages. Author Marion Whitehead became a passionate pass chaser when she worked as a tour guide in the Garden Route and Little Karoo.
The magic of mountains
What is it that draws us to the mountains? Is it something that was bred into our genes when we lived as hunter-gatherers, seeking high points from which we could survey the landscape and spot possible prey - and where we could feel relatively safe from being preyed upon? Is it because these unspoiled highlands lift our spirits in a way that the busy bustle of the cities cannot hope to match? Mountains are among the last wilderness areas to escape the farmer's plough and the bulldozer's blade. The rugged terrain is unsuitable for development, and mountain ranges are often protected because they are important watersheds in our thirsty land. Road passes offer quick and easy access points into these wonderful wildernesses. Without them, these lofty heights would be restricted to the fit and the strong, those who can hike, bike and ride the steep and rough pathways to summits and saddles. Today we travel for the pleasure of exploring new places, seeing magnificent scenery and experiencing how other people live. The network of modern roads is so convenient that we seldom give thought to how they came about. Roads develop for a reason - it's not always as dramatic as a gold rush; often it's as prosaic as farmers needing to get their produce to market. A route is an expression of a need in a community. The more difficult it is to build the road, the greater the need has to be before this comes about. Rough tracks through the veld used to do the job, but as transport has developed, our needs have become more sophisticated. Correspondingly, our network of roads has grown. The most dramatic are those that take us deep into the mountains, those barriers that made traversing South Africa from its narrow coastal plain into the interior such a headache for the early explorers, traders, missionaries and trekboers seeking new pastures.
In the tracks of the pioneers
The first roads in South Africa were not built - they just happened. Trails were worn in the veld by people passing the same way and, when it came to difficult mountain crossings, the easiest paths were those already trampled by those most adept at finding the best way: the wildlife, including the 'bulldozer of the bush', the mighty elephant. Roads were not necessary until wagons started trundling across the country. The first vehicle recorded was built for Jan van Riebeeck's settlement at the Cape in 1653. It was a sturdy, two-wheeled carpenter's cart to take timber cut in the forest above Kirstenbosch to the fort on Table Bay. The uneven track was improved by a gang armed with picks and shovels - South Africa's first road. This worked so well that a month later they built a four-wheeled ox wagon to carry stone. The early explorers setting out from Cape Town with wagon loads of supplies often ended up abandoning their cumbersome vehicles because of the lack of roads. Pieter CruythofT's expedition in 1662 to search for the fabled Emperor of Monomotapa and his gold had just six oxen drawing one wagon, which kept breaking down. It was such a hindrance that when they got to the Olifants River at the foot of the Cederberg, they dismantled the wagon, buried it and loaded their supplies onto the oxen. That wasn't the end of their problems, either. [...]
This is an excerpt from South Africa’s Favourite Passes & Poorts, by Marion Whitehead.
Title: South Africa’s Favourite Passes & Poorts
Editor: Marion Whitehead
Cape Town, South Africa 2018
ISBN 9781770269590 / ISBN 978-1-77026-959-0
Softcover, 21 x 21 cm, 312 pages, throughout photograph and map insets
Whitehead, Marion im Namibiana-Buchangebot
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