Summits on the Air
South Africa

Katti ZS6KVR at the summit of Magaliesberg GP-008 (Pic: Rudi ZS6DX)

Summits on the Air

Summits On the Air - SOTA for short - is an international Amateur Radio awards program that was launched in March 2002. SOTA issues certificates to amateurs who contact or activate a certain number of mountain summits. It is especially suited to South Africa since although we have relatively few islands we do have plenty of mountains, as well as excellent hiking weather throughout the year.

SOTA encourages portable operations by summit activators. Operations from vehicles are not permitted, and although a vehicle may be used to get to the mountain the method of final access to the summit must be "person powered" (e.g. hiking, mountain bike etc.) and all equipment must be carried to the site by the activator team. QRP operations are the rule, so this is a wonderful opportunity for all you homebrew and QRP enthusiasts to show off your portable equipment and operating prowess. However since all bands and modes are permissible, you don't require a portable HF rig to activate a summit - a VHF HT is quite sufficient. There are a number of certificates for activators, culminating in the ultimate accolade - the "Mountain Goat" plaque.

For those of us who don't relish the prospect of lugging portable equipment to a windswept mountain summit there is always the challenge of various "chaser" certificates, culminating in the "Shack Sloth" plaque, which can be earned from the comfort of your favourite armchair by contacting summits. QSL cards are not required so you can apply for certificates and plaques as soon as you have earned the required number of points.

SOTA International Web Site and Database

The SOTA international web site can be found at It includes an online database containing scores for activators and chasers, as well as summit information for most member associations (including South Africa). There is also an online form where you can enter information about your activations.

SOTA in South Africa

A SOTA Association for Soth Africa was formed in October 2002 to draw up an Association Reference Manual and compile a list of South African summits that can be activated or contacted for SOTA awards. The Association was incorporated by the SOTA Management Committee with effect from 1 January 2003.

This means that South Africa is a fully operational member of SOTA, and South African summits may be activated or contacted for SOTA awards. In order to participate in SOTA, you will need the following documents:

If you plan to activate a summit, then you should also read the one-page Guidelines for Activators. Bernie ZS1BW has also contributed a brief Guide to the Mountain Ranges of South Africa.


The following links will take you to articles and photographs of summit activations written by the activators themselves. They link to external web sites and SOTA is not responsible for their content.

Contact Information

You can email the Association Manager at [email protected].

The international SOTA Web Site is at

The SOTA Email Reflector provides a global forum for enthusiasts to announce summit activations and discuss many issues relevant to the programme. If you would like to receive these emails, then please submit your email address using this form.

Subscribe to the SOTA reflector
Just type in your address and press enter

Links to other SOTA and Adventure Radio sites