Travel Journal

Route 62 (Garden Route)

(Friday 24 April 2009) by Dopps Family
Garden Route (Heidelberg and somewhere in the hills):
The last couple days have been an adventure and some of the more memorable drives we have since landing in Cape Town. On the 17th we left Arniston and headed for De Hoop nature reserve which required an hour drive on dirt/gravel roads. The locals drive by like it’s a freeway with rocks flying as they pass you – but there isn’t may cars in the middle of nowhere. Best I could go was under 80kph and by the time we made it to the gate of the reserve we decided to settle on lunch at the restaurant of a bush camp lodge (which we would have stayed at if they had space). But with over 100km of more gravel roads we kept moving on. To cross the Breda river in Malagas we had to drive our car on a hand pulled pontoon ferry. It could only fit 3 cars (hard to hand pull more than that). To get across the river two guys latched a harness around their backs attached to a chain that hooks to a cable which spans the river and anchored on each side. They then walk the length of the ferry and effectively “pull” the ferry, cars and passengers to the other side. The river is probably 100 meters wide and they do this 40 to 50 times a day. This is my definition of back-breaking work although they probably make good pay at R30 per car. After another hour driving on gravel we finally made it to tarmac and the N2 and ended up in Heidelberg just as a torrential thunderstorm dump water and hail on us. The locals said it was the first rain in 3 months and it literally dumped for about 10 minutes. However, it posed a slight problem for us… We finally decided on a B&B but when they took Carola to the room they discovered it was flooded with water and mud. So we stayed at “Uncle Happy’s” Fortunately for us this was a much nicer place, probably the nicest so far. It was a large house/lodge that had been recently remodeled and we had the entire house to ourselves. Best of all it had a washing machine AND dryer! Waahoo! First dryer we’ve seen in SA so we washed everything that needed washing – which was mostly Anisa’s clothes (she is sooo hard on clothes, augh!).
We broke our “2-night town” rule and packed up to move on since Heidelberg doesn’t have much to offer and hit the road once again on our way to Oudtshoorn. Rather than take the N2 (major road) we decided to head over the mountains to the R62 scenic garden route. Unfortunately the road thru the pass to Little Karoo winds like a snike for miles and by the time we made it to the straight and narrow Anisa’s tummy decide it had enough and dumped her breakfast all over her and the car seat – ah the memories we’ll cherish!
During lunch (and some laundry of puke covered clothes in the restroom) some locals recommended we take a “shortcut” on the way to Oudtshoorn. Excellent, another gravel road I thought as we made the turn off the haven of tarmac, but the scenery here the Red Hills is amazing and is similar to Sedona in Arizona. Anyway, we ended up in a rustic but very charming 2 bedroom cottage for the night called “Ostrich Palace”, one of 8 cottages run by Red Stone Hills farm. For dinner they brought us pre-made lamb kabobs, lamb chops, 3 different salads and vegetables, set the table and stacked the wood for the fire. All we had to do was light the match. Not bad for R580 for the night and R95 for the dinner. Keep in mind that the SA Rand is about 10 Rand to the dollar, so we’ve been sleeping and eating very well since our dollar is relatively strong here. The owner was telling us that at one time the Rand was equivalent to 87 cents and 2 Rand to the British pound. Back then they could afford to travel, but not now with the Rand doing so poorly.


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