22 April 2011 by Chris Marais

Across the Great Karoo

One of the finest driving routes - to me, anyway - in the whole wide world is the Cradock to Cape Town run. If you leave early and budget for lots of stopping time, you can make it in a day. Most travellers with some savvy make a journey out of it, and some even do it in a whole week.

We head up the Wapad Pass to Graaff Reinet, then south to Aberdeen and Willowmore, entrance to the Baviaans. Then, after some bracing coffee at Sophie’s Choice, we cut west to De Rust, an estate agent’s dream. Already the weekenders are starting to pack the place, and we head down to Oudtshoorn.

It is the time of their festival, and the town is humming. At the Smits Winkel roadside shop, Mariaan will tell you she’s run off her feet - look out for the cut out metal windmills she sells. They’re great.

Onto Route 62 - the Little Karoo - and Calitzdorp for sweet wines and cheeses, with the mountains shining all around. Through Ladysmith and to Barriedale, where you stop for a cold drink at Ronnie’s Sex Shop and shoot the breeze with the man himself, Ronnie Price.

After Barriedale, onto the Tradouw Pass through tiny hamlets and Swiss mountain scenes and then, finally the N2 lifeline highway that links the whole coast of the country.

Our first Cape Town stop is normally Cotton’s Cottages in Simon’s Town, guest accommodations owned by friends of ours. We kick back on the porch after a long shower to get that Karoo traildust out of the system and rest our eyes on the ocean. Often, a southern right whale lifts here tail up in greeting - and all is right with the world.

Category: Culture & History

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