As we bid goodbye to the Swartberg mountains and The Hell we decided to take the road less travelled towards Hermanus and that decision rewarded us one kilometer after another. We are talking about over 360km of open road, that equates to a whole lot of fun.
The Swartberg pass essentially makes up the R328, leading off this road is the Matjiesrivier and Calitzdorp gravel road. Don’t despair, it’s car friendly and very well maintained. It’s by far more scenic and fun and it connects with Route 62. Which is a road trip in itself, dotted with quaint little towns and, wait for it, the Karoo Wine Route! I mean, who would have thought that in this semi-desert region there would be an abundance of vineyards.
And so, off we went! On the road less travelled towards Calitzdorp, the heart of the Karoo wine land and our first stop en-route to Hermanus.
We popped into two wineries, De Krans and the Calitzdorp Wine Cellar. After a little bit of wine tasting, a light brunch and some shopping to add to our wine collection we hit the road again and headed out towards Barrydale. But first, a stop at Ronnie’s shop.
Now, now, calm yourselves, it’s not what you think. Its the oldest pub in Africa and it serves up the most amazing milkshakes and burgers! It’s also a popular watering hole for bikers. So after some refreshments and a delicious lunch off we were again.
I took over the driving and eventually realized I couldn’t keep the car on the road, not because of the wine tasting, that would just be irresponsible, but because of the view! Such diversity, mountains, open grassland and just sheer beauty. We actually stopped far too often and started running out of time. Sadly most of the photographs we took are unusable due to a dirty lens, another hard lesson learned.
As we approached Barrydale we didn’t have enough time to stop and explore, however the brief drive through showed us that this little town is definitely worth a visit.
Just after Barrydale you will encounter Tradouw Pass. Wow! The road is neatly tucked in-between the Swellendam Mountains with a river running beside it. Taps have been installed along the pass that provide mountain spring water, we saw many locals filling up barrels along the way. As we reached the crest of the pass we were rewarded with the most incredible view of a valley.
All along the route to Hermanus we were met with quaint towns and ever tempting wine farms to visit, so I suppose dedicating a trip to explore the Karoo Wine Route is in order, what do you think?
We arrived in Hermanus late that evening, our accommodation for the night, the Hermanus Back Packers. We were very well received and would recommend them to anyone. After a refreshing shower we drove to the small and picturesque water front for a light dinner, we were treated with the sounds of the crashing waves in the background and a fresh ocean breeze.
The next morning we woke up early and took the short walk to Fernkloof Nature Reserve. We hopped onto the Cliff Path, a 10km trail which runs along the coast of Hermanus, so you have the crashing waves, incredible scenery, rocky coves and beaches on the one side and the beautiful little town on the other. An incredibly unique experience and well worth your time and effort. It’s not a very difficult walk and you can jump off the trail at any point. We did just that and enjoyed a delicious breakfast smoothie at on of the local hangouts along the way. You’ll also be treated to a few art installations along the path, adding a unique element to this nature walk. The Cliff Path is also really popular during whale watching season which starts in August, another reason for us to go back!
Our visit in Hermanus was so very short and so incredibly sweet. A tapestry of natural wonder, no surprise it’s such a popular holiday destination.
As we prepared to head out, slight sadness hit us. We were near the end of our incredible road trip, just over 3000km of travel and beautiful experiences. However we quickly got out of our funk. We were heading to Cape Town, our most favorite place. We are lucky enough to have family in the Mother City and were looking forward to spending some quality time with them.
But first, sand boarding down Blesberg Dune in Betty’s Bay. We were so super excited for this little part of our adventure, it would have been a first for me and I was like a kid, with ants in my pants.
We read about this incredible spot in a Getaway magazine we picked up earlier that week. We assumed that the information provided on how to get access to the dune for a morning of fun was correct, well it was at the time of print. We were not so lucky though. The store that provided the necessary permits and board hire had closed down!
So now what? Well we improvised, we went to a local store, bought a cheap board and basically trespassed, climbed up the dune and tried to sand board down. What an epic fail. The board, you see, well it wasn’t the right kind of board and we couldn’t get enough momentum to ride the dune. Bernie even tried it with a cardboard box, no luck. I was in constant panic mode having visions of being arrested and thrown into jail for trespassing. Bernie was like a care free kid, he just wanted to dominate this sand dune, well he didn’t.
We just got hot, sweaty and full of sand. Climbing a steep sand dune, 250m to the top, in the hot African sun is no joke.
We eventually gave up and headed to the beach for a bit of a cool down. We were too far away from the designated swimming area so we couldn’t venture too far into the ocean, because sharks! Bernie didn’t get that memo, he went wild swimming, while I was screaming at him to get the hell out of the water. He didn’t hear me, 10 minutes later Bernie walks onto the beach, happy and refreshed. It seems the sharks weren’t really hungry for a tall blond Afrikaans boy that day.
We bid goodbye to Betty’s bay and the dune that we didn’t ‘own’ and wound our way down to Cape Town, we opted for the N2 route, this runs along the atlantic seaboard and its breathtaking.
We spent the next few days with our incredible family, relaxing by the pool, having long lazy dinners, early morning hikes and a picnic on the beach to watch the last sunset of 2015. We also visited Kirstenbosch gardens and walked along the recently constructed aerial walk way, informally called the Boomslang.
Thinking back to this incredible journey I realize how blessed we are to live in this phenomenal country. No words can do this extraordinary land any justice.
What we can tell you is that our bucket list of places to visit has changed drastically.
We ‘heart’ you South Africa, like a-lottle!