A nice drive to the northern cape, with fun stuff and a broken down car.
We left Cape Town around 1pm on a Thursday afternoon, and headed north for a long weekend. When we got past Klawer (about 3hr15 north along the N7), the agriculture stopped, and the plains stretched before us. In Vanrhynsdorp you turn right, and head eastward, up the Great Escarpment (see Geology section). There are viewpoints along this road, and we saw an amazing sunset.
We stayed in Piet se Guesthouse, in the centre of town. Actually the town is so small, everything is in the centre. We were planning on doing a four day hike in Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve the next days. So early Friday morning we went to the permit office in town. I’d already phoned them (email doesn’t work) to check, and they said just to turn up – though it’s busy in Spring time. But it was raining a lot, and the weather didn’t look good for the rest of the day, so we decided to go back to our place to have breakfast and perhaps start later in the day, hiking a shorter amount this first day.
The weather was not improving, so we decided to visit the Kokerboomwoud (Quiver Tree Forest on Google Maps) to the north of town. To get there, head north on the paved road to Loeriesfontein, then 22 km north of town, turn right along a dirt road, along the northern edge of the Gannabos protected area. The trees start on the right hand side of the road in about 3 km. However, just as we arrived, there was an explosion under our car’s bonnet. Oh dear.
We looked around the trees anyway, since we were there, and they were super cool!!
Then we managed to drive back to the main road, but not much further along it, since the something was making a terrible sound. There was no phone reception either, so we were a little stuck. But, as luck would have it, 5 minutes later some guys driving along the road stop when they see us with our emergency lights on, and tow us back into town – so nice!
Our hotel owner (Hendrik) was really nice about it, ordered us some tea, and then called his friend in the town who does car repairs. The friend assessed our problem, and we needed a new radiator, and the top gasket was wrong so we needed the engine to be skimmed too – which was done all the way in Vredendal (Hendrik very kindly took it down and back for us).
So while waiting, we had a few days to hang out in this town, trapped with not so much to do. Though it was very peaceful, and there are a few nice things. There was a very impressive church in town, with very large surrounding space – I guess for wagons to outspan in.
We spent most of the days reading in the garden. We saw a weaver build a new nest. And other nice birds, including a malachite sunbird visiting the garden.
It was a classic Plattelandse dorpie.
By Sunday lunchtime, our car was repaired, yay! And we left. Via the waterfall 6 km north of town, though it wasn’t following – it only flows in Spring, and if you are lucky. But still nice to look at the rocks and the canyon.
Then we started our drive back to Cape Town. Back down the escarpment….
Through the agricultural land alongside the Cederberg….
And still further….
And finally through the green fields back to Cape Town.