Join us for a 5-day journey of adventure, discovery, history and pass driving as we tackle the many challenges of the Ben 10 Eco Challenge through the mountains of the Eastern Cape Highlands. This is the only official Ben 10 Tour available where you are guided and connected by VHF radio. The tour takes all the pain of planning, organising accommodation and meals out of your hands. It’s a case of arrive and enjoy the tour and earn the badge!
If you missed out on the first four fully-booked Ben 10 Tours, this is the perfect opportunity to have your part in this incredible adventure! Travelling under the expert guidance of Trygve Roberts who continued to develop and improve this unique tour, MPSA is proud to announce Version 5 – with shorter distances and more leisure time.
We will, of course, be driving the 10 Challenge Passes, PLUS several bonus passes!
The tour kicks off on Friday 4th March 2022, and finishes on the evening of Wednesday 9th March 2022.
The tour has been designed to provide a perfect cocktail of breath-taking mountain landscapes, enthralling local history, and the very best in thrilling gravel-road driving!
At the end of the tour, you will be presented with your official Ben 10 finishing badge.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Friday 4th March, 2022: Mountain Shadows Hotel – Meet & Greet, Registration, VHF radio fitment, tyre deflation, driver’s briefing, happy hour, dinner.
DAY 1 – Saturday 5th March, 2022
Our route takes along the scenic R58 road following the Sterkspruit via some amazing sandstone formations to Barkly East (ORP – optional refuelling point). We remain on the R58 and traverse the Kraai River Pass and later the Grondnek Pass, whereafter we turn off the tar onto gravel and follow one of the finest gravel roads in the Eastern Cape Highlands through verdant farms, cascading streams and deep valleys. This road leads us to our first challenge pass of the tour – Joubert’s Pass which we drive in the descending mode offering lofty views of the town of Lady Grey.(ORP & Toilets)
We visit Lady Grey and swing back onto the R58 heading south over Benjaminshoogte Pass, where we will see some of old rail reverses and an abandoned tunnel. We turn off the tar onto the R392 and head south to Clanville crossing the Kraai River a second time. At Clanville we turn south-east along a linking farm road where we take a lunch break in a beautiful birch forest. We then join the R396 via Perdenek and change direction again at Clifford, where the road leads us southwards into the waiting arms of the beautiful Otto du Plessis Pass, which is the second challenge pass of the tour. The summit views are exceptional.
Once over the Otto du Plessis Pass, we head east to Elliot (Khowa) accompanied by some beautiful vistas of the southern Drakensberg with it’s towering buttresses and green valleys, to rejoin the tarred R58 and ascend the Barkly Pass – the third challenge pass for the day, to return to the good food and warm hospitality waiting for us at Mountain Shadows at the top of the pass (2000m ASL)
- Ben 10 passes: Jouberts Pass (Ben 10 #1), Otto du Plessis Pass (Ben 10 #2), Barkly Pass (Ben 10 #3)
- Bonus passes: Kraai River Pass, Grondnek Pass, Benjaminshoogte, Perdenek Pass.
- Travel distance: 296km
DAY 2 – Sunday 6th March, 2022
Our route heads north-west briefly, where we turn onto gravel at the Bottelnek Valley – a remote and isolated farming valley with those magnificently tall Lombardi poplars and birch forests, past farmsteads dating back to the late 1800’s. Then we ascend the Bottelnek Pass and join the R396, which leads us to the most anticipated pass of the entire tour – the Bastervoedpad Pass.
It will keep us busy negotiating rocks, ruts, mud and obstacles for several hours before arriving at the Valetta farm at the eastern end. We drive this pass in the west-east direction to maximise on the scenery. The summit views are amongst the best you will find anywhere in South Africa with a 270 degree sweeping vista of the Southern Drakensberg and the richly forested valleys near Ugie.
An easy drive out through the pine and gum plantations gets us to Ugie, where we will offer the option (time permitting) of driving the Langeni Pass. We head back up the Barkly Pass to Mountain Shadows for our third overnight rest and celebration of having conquered the big one.
- Ben 10 passes: Bottelnek Pass (Ben 10 #4), Bastervoetpad Pass (Ben 10 #5), Barkly Pass (repeat)
- Bonus passes: Langeni Pass
- Travel distance: 220km
DAY 3 – Monday 7th March, 2022
Rest Day. This is a contingency day to allow for bad weather, mechanical breakdowns, tyre repairs or, if all goes smoothly, we will use Day 3 as a lay-day to explore the vulture colonies, hike the magnificent mountains, visit Dawid se Kop (2500m ASL) and more! We add this day into the program should we have an adverse weather forecast for Day 2 and might move the days around to ensure the safety of the group over the Bastervoetpad route.
- Travel distance: 50km
DAY 4 – Tuesday 8th March, 2022
We say farewell to Mountain Shadows as we head north west along the R58 to Barkly East (refuelling opportunity) then turn right onto gravel to see the famous Loch Bridge – one of the oldest multiple arched stone bridges built in the late 1800’s and still serving the public daily – We then drive up the Tierkranz Pass for a birds eye view of the 7th & 8th rail reverses as well as the railway viaduct over the Kraai River.
We will traverse Wintersnek as well as Ballochs Pass before joining the R393 near Wartrail. Our route then takes us through the beautiful Wartrail Valley and up Lundean’s Nek Pass which offers jaw dropping views of sandstone outcrops and rushing streams with waterfalls and enough hairpin bends to make you dizzy. This is not a particularly difficult pass (depending on recent rainfall). We drive all the way down to the Telle River, then turn east following the southern bank of the river right on the RSA/Lesotho border and up the mountain to Dangershoek for a group photo and leg stretch.
We retrace our route back to the Wartrail Country Club for our lunch break, then turn east following the delightfully scenic Funnystone Stream. Later we ascend the technical Volunteershoek Pass where your driving skills will be put to the test. This is a dramatic pass and quite long eventually summiting at 2581m ASL.
We continue heading east along the high altitude plateau past Loch Ness and Tiffindell, turning south once more to descend the Carliseshoekspruit Pass. This is without question one of the steepest passes in South Africa where the gradients get steeper than 1:4, but don’t worry, we’ll talk you down safely.
Our overnight venue is the Rhodes Hotel which dates back to 1880 and has only recently been reopened.
- Ben 10 passes: Lundean’s Nek Pass (Ben 10 #6), Volunteershoek Pass (Ben 10 #7), Carlisleshoekspruit Pass (Ben 10 #8)
- Bonus passes: Tierkranz Pass, Ballochs Pass, Dangershoek.
- Travel distance: 182km
DAY 5 – Wednesday 9th March, 2022
The final day of the tour starts after a hearty breakfast at the Rhodes Hotel and begins with the ascent of the Carlisleshoekspruit pass. It’s very different to the descent and is usually tackled in 1st gear from the bottom of the switchback section to the top of the narrow ravine.
Once up at the top of the plateau, we turn east onto the TTT route. The Tiffindell-Tenahead-Traverse describes exactly what this road is all about. It’s the longest, highest contour route in South Africa at 27 km and runs more or less along the 2600m contour line. The road was originally built to provide vehicular access for SAPS to combat stock theft from Lesotho and is also known as Die Grenspad or Die Patrolliepad, both names adequately describing its purpose. Whilst the TTT sounds easy, it’s anything but. There are 7 mini passes along the route and some of the driving can get quite technical, but the scenery is out of this world. We will stop in at the Tenahead Lodge (if they’re not too busy) for light refreshments.
The final challenge pass of the day and the culmination of the tour is Naudes Nek Pass. We intersect the pass at the eastern viewsite (2500m) and descend it’s eastern side towards Maclear, where turn around at the eastern marker and drive back up the way we came (this is to ensure we fully comply with the rules of the challenge). We then head down the western side towards Rhodes for our final evening of good food, revelry, prize giving (there will be Chappies awards for the good, bad and naughty – all tongue in cheek and in good jest)
- Ben 10 passes: Carlisleshoekspruit Pass (Ascending), Tiffindell Tenahead Traverse (Ben 10 #9), Naudes Nek Pass (Ben 10 #10)
- Travel distance: 100km
EXIT – Thursday 10th March, 2020
We will bid you farewell for your journey home after a final breakfast at the Rhodes Hotel.
We will be based at two central points with quality accommodation, superb hospitality and wholesome food, spending a total of 6 nights at our base accommodation, departing again for home on Thursday morning, 10th March 2022.
You pay per vehicle, and not per person, so our tours are ideal for families, friends and couples.
- Total distance: 870 km
- Drivers Briefing & Welcoming Party: 18h00 > Friday 4th March 2022
- Start: Mountain Shadows Hotel – 08h00 > Saturday 5th March 2022
- Closing Function & Prize-Giving: 18h00 > Wednesday 9th March 2022
- End of Tour/Departure: 09h30 > Thursday 10th March 2022
All vehicles will be supplied with crystal clear FM marine quality two-way radios so we can communicate with you.
Our routes are always bespoke and you will be guaranteed the trip of a lifetime, packed with facts, folklore, history and engineering snippets – all of it done in a safe, responsible manner.
VEHICLES THAT CAN PARTICIPATE
- 4×4 only, with low range and good ground clearance.
- No novice drivers. You must either hold a 4×4 driver training certificate or have at least 2 years off-road driving experience, and have done at least one prior Grade 3 route.
- We recommend having 4×4 insurance in place whilst on the tour.
- Maximum of 11 vehicles on this tour.
- Total tour price: R8900 per vehicle regardless of the number of passengers. (Price includes VHF radio hire, maps, tour notes, all stationery, recovery equipment.)
- Cost of accommodation, meals, drinks for your own account.
- We take care of all the bookings.
- Average costs for you to budget with: R1000 per person per day sharing (Dinner, bed & breakfast)
- Please note that prices are approximate.
- MPSA will invoice you separately for accommodation and two meals daily which are inclusive tariffs.
- If you find a replacement to take your place – 100% refund.
- If we find a replacement to take your place – 80% refund.
- If you cancel your booking within 60 days before the tour – We will give you a credit for a future tour equal to 60%.
- We pay all the accommodation and meals upfront long before the tour starts. We will negotiate on your behalf with the hotel, guest lodge or B&B for a refund. In general terms, most of them are willing to give a substantial or full refund. Whatever refund we can negotiate, will be refunded to you in full.
- The accommodation/meals invoice is sent out well ahead of the tour. If you cancel your booking, you are still liable for the accommodation, even if you have not paid the invoice yet.
Please get in touch with us directly with any questions you may have by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The MPSA Shop has a separate login system to the main MPSA website for members.
During your first purchase, your account will be auto-created, using the email address you supply at checkout.